Kind Surgery


Your father had an ear infection
so I lit a cigarette and blew
smoke into his ear and like a
damn fool started smoking
again and playing those
Hawaiian background
music records until
I got the scrof jaw
which you can see has

been removed through a
bit of kind surgery at the
Home for Incurables.
Just the right side,
I believe. I touch
nothing when I touch it.
And yes there was my
side-family thought to be
hidden, but with your
grandmother fresh off the boat
from Sweden or somewhere
and dropping those babies
was tough being a cop and
a lumberyard cook—so consider
your father’s galvanic eye-squeaks
a rich source of magnets and
call it a day.

After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans (street musician, psych- tech, riverboat something-or-other, door-to-door poetry peddler, etc.), Matt Dennison finished his undergraduate degree at Mississippi State University where he won the National Sigma Tau Delta essay competition (as judged by X.J. Kennedy). His work has appeared in Rattle, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, A Cappella ZooGargoyle, and The Emprise Reviewamong others. He currently lives in a 105-year-old house with “lots of potential” and can be reached at