Dimitri Reyes

Dental Impressions: An Elegy for my Teacher

Dimitri Reyes, poet in the streets of Newark

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     Open your mouth only if your words
     are more beautiful than your silence

     –Arabic Proverb

Thank you,
Ms. Vonetta Hunter.

The spirit is a Goodwill receipt
where we print things we see on paper.

Where words we speak are worth
less than what they mean.

When you saw me it was always an
Ahhh, Mr. Dimitri

because you taught teeth
but knew I was a poet.

Offering check / check minuses
on a clipboard. White satin gloves

tracing the slightest of hands.
but you preferred purple

as we did. All glam- like and softer,
crest-scented and amalgam powder.

Holding a mirror to a mandible
like a stainless steel scepter

dilated eyes in lights singing
Hail Mary’s into a gaping cavity.

Opening one’s mouth wasn’t
a search for crowns rather than

the entry point to a book.
Reading the ridges of molars

like the lines of a palm,
dental charts and abscesses,

concerned with what was under
the gum. How some thing
could be dying beneath a thumbnail

and teeth, alive as posies.
You’d tell me from behind your mask,

just imagine them blossoming
inside your mouth.


Dimitri Reyes is a Puerto Rican multidisciplinary artist, content creator, organizer, and educator from Newark, New Jersey. He has organized large-scale poetry events such as #PoetsforPuertoRicoNewark and read at The Dodge Poetry Festival, Split This Rock, Busboys and Poets, and the American Poetry Museum and elsewhere. Dimitri’s forthcoming book, Every First and Fifteenth is the winner of the Digging Press 2020 Chapbook Award and some of his other work is published or forthcoming in Vinyl, Kweli, Entropy, Duende, Cosmonauts, Obsidian, and Acentos. He is the Marketing & Communications Director at CavanKerry Press and is an artist-in-residence with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Learn more about Dimitri at dimitrireyespoet.com/

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