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Poetry and Medicine
April 11, 2012

Buy New Floss

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to jamapoems@jama-archives.org.

Author Affiliation: Seattle, Washington (medjyers@hotmail.com).

JAMA. 2012;307(14):1465. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.341

Remember, tomorrow: Trim nails,
shred sales slips, shower,
call that lawyer who tells it
like it is, restring your guitar.
Better not wait on the bills.
When you shop, think fiber.
The letter you wrote your daughter
last week, left on the seat
in your car—mail it. Take an hour
walk after dinner. Regard
the moon and Jupiter, should they appear,
and even if not, while you're looking,
take a breath and forget who you are.
If that proves difficult, go
have a bourbon with a splash of water
at the alehouse. Take a seat
at the bar and meditate—stare
at the graying man in the mirror,
if it hasn't gotten too late.
You do need your sleep to work
the list. Get to the barber,
call your mother again
while her carotids are still open,
talk to your father as long
as he’ll stay on the phone, forget
the tumor taking his brain over.
The following evening, maybe
Jupiter will grant you a breath
of its pure anonymity. It requires
no report of you. You're not
on its list. Renew your passport.
Vacuum. Buy new floss
while your molars are still yours.
The moon is a terrible dentist.