Biting in Becoming Judas
It could be said that Becoming Judas is a book about teeth. Many of the poems incorporate mouth images, and these images are constantly devouring each other.
I’ve always had a thing for teeth—I just didn’t know that I was baring this obsession in my work until friends started sending pictures of my book and their mouths closing around it, teeth close to the cover, the pages squeezed by their incisors. In Becoming Judas, I did what poets have done for centuries; I revealed my private obsession, my love / fear of being bitten, of being forced to bite back. I believe that good friends do bite back against the way life wants to swallow you. I believe at our best we allow life to swallow us. There is a tension in this—a tension to teeth. As a writer, my responsibility is to bite back, claim my soul against the culture of my time, claim my writing time, bite back against anyone who tells me it can’t be done.
My friends asked, What’s with all these teeth? Well, there are a mouthful of reasons for teeth—here are my top 32:
1. The etymology of “bite” ties back to “beetles”—leaps to The Beatles. So when I write about John Lennon, I’m alsowriting about biting. This makes me giggle.
2. My most striking feature is my overbite; people know me by my rabbit-mouth smile.
3. “Young of the coney,” that is the etymology of rabbit. Coney can be read as “fur” or “fish” or “cunt,” depending
on how far back you trace its edges.
4. My smile is a furry fish.
5. My smile is a “wedge,” a “hollow place.”
6. When I cross paths with a photo of myself, all I see are those teeth jetting out like the slick edge of a knife.
7. As with any knife, I have mixed feelings about my jagged smile.
8. Also known as a “horizontal overlap,” an overbite is a constant reminder of horizons.
9. It doesn’t take any effort to bite my own lip.
10. I’m biting all the time—the line between here and there, between running and flying.
11. The horizon is pressing against our lower lips.
12. If I really like you, I will ask to know your teeth by my tongue.
13. When no one is looking, I like to bite my own hand.
14. My grandmother always dreamed of toothless women laughing; she didn’t like it.
15. I loved it when my grandmother told me about the laughing toothless; it seems like the perfect secrete shared.
16. The only time I ever ran away from home was to go to the dentist. I was 5. When caught, I grounded myself from Easter.
17. I wanted to understand nitrous oxide.
18. My 4 year-old brother said nitrous oxide is the door to outer space.
19. When my wisdom teeth came out, I fought going under.
20. With too much anesthesia, I told the nurses: I “half” to get out of here. Go to Vegas. Marry David Cassidy.
21. I think I love you, so what am I so afraid of?
22. Teeth are human pearls.
23. The first tooth I lost, I swallowed.
24. My mother claims her first lost treasure, I swallowed.
25. We all carry in us a window.
26. Our teeth give us a view of death.
27. I always look a horse in the mouth.
28. False teeth in a cup look like a happy fish—swimming.
29. Laughter is the perfect secrete shared.
30. Where there are teeth, there is sure to be a tongue—
32. and marrow.
Please consider adding your own thoughts on biting–pictures of biting–bite, bite, bite. Bite and I’ll send you something, something delicious.