Karen Greenbaum-Maya


The true way to brush your teeth is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge. One side
always gets more fluoride than the other. When you reach Marin’s scrublands, you head
back to the Presidio, to the green lawns where you started. The job takes seven years,
what with the wisdom teeth and cables and all. Start again, near the suicide hot-line
telephone, where they tell you there is hope. They plead with you to wait. You must
not wait. You must go on brushing. You try to mend defects, the overlapping teeth, the
little pits. The middle of the bridge, halfway there, is where people jump. Their organs
burst when they hit the water, their bones liquefy on impact, but not their teeth. When
you arrive at the middle, at the top, polish and polish, try to remove the stains. You
must brush for seven minutes. Seven years. Again.

carpet, v., n. : as in bombing,
laying down death, hot and bright,
covering with orange turning
to the black that erases, smudges
like punch spilled
onto carpet, the happy host
pouring, not looking, laughing,
missing the cup, a wet sticky rope
of sweet black tea and orange sherbet,
the stain that rises and rises again,
that Poe story retold, never weary,
a blow that keeps pummeling,
a blue-black stain cleaning cannot touch;
carpet woven by hands
100,000 knots of silk
tied tight, meant to last.

KAREN GREENBAUM-MAYA is a retired clinical psychologist, former German Lit. major, and Pushcart nominee. Her poems have appeared in many publications, including Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Lilliput Review, The Prose Poem Project, Convergence, dotdotdash and The Centrifugal Eye. Her poem “Dreams, Ides of March” was nominated for the 2010 Pushcart Prize. Her second chapbook, The Burrowing Song, is forthcoming from Kattywompus Press in 2013.

Read more by Karen Greenbaum-Maya:

The Dirty Napkin
Psychic Meatloaf