(with apologies to
Omar Khayyam)

I sat across from her fascinated,
no, hypnotized, as I watched her mouth
gnashing up and down on her food,
moving two scrunches per second.

She had thin lips, maybe an inch
beneath her long nose that looked
like an arrow pointing to a mouth
that never stopped masticating..

When she halted long enough to talk,
her mouth opened like a sewer grate,
the salivary juices running down
the sides trying to escape her teeth.

If we could see ourselves as others see us,
would there exist idealistic poetry?
Would Omar Khayyam in his Rubaiyat
have changed “The moving finger having writ . .”

The masticating mouth does chew
and having chewed gnaws on, nor all
its gnashing nor its grinding shall eradicate
one morsel from its culinary function?

(In the 2012 Senior Poets Laureate Contest,
“The Masticator” won the Indiana Honor Scroll Award)