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January 2017, vol 12 no 4

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Ray Rasmussen

Life after Floss

After lunch you wander into the bathroom and, blast it!! you can’t remember whether you’d flossed this morning! It’s on your mind because just last week while picking away at the plaque, your dental hygienist led off with, “Do you floss morning and evening?”

Why ask? She already knows the answer. At times you suspect she's deliberately careless with the pick because you've scheduled your yearly visit a bit late . . . okay . . . two years late. You dare not answer "I dunno, I forgot" because Ms. Dominatrix has already angled the spray such that there’s a light rain in the room, water is dripping from your nose, and the pick is poised for further punishment.

Just as past generations of parents tried to encourage good behaviour by warning their children of the boogeyman, she too predicts gloom and doom. Were she more adept at cautionary tales, she might model the practices of the clergy who scared generations of boys with the threat that masturbation leads to blindness, or worse, causes hair to grow on the palms of the hands. You kept your hands in your pockets for an entire week for fear that their meanderings in the shower would reveal your nefarious practices. Ms. D might, for example, suggest that not flossing will lead to hair growing on your tongue. At your level of memory loss, the tactic might even work a second time.

So should you floss now when you may already have? Were you to lose a tooth before something else goes, would it be so bad? Given what’s happening to guys your age, if that’s all you lose in the next few years, you’d feel blessed.

radio news –
a man found wandering
without his pants

old wastebasket
floss container tossed in

1. Originally written in the first person and published in Bottle Rockets, 2013. Rewritten in second personas an experiment in form. Comments welcome.
2. The second poem is a failed attempt to communicate with Basho’s old pond and frog.