- The Memory of Teeth
You know that when Tojo tried to kill himselfhe had a doctor first mark the spot of his heartwith charcoal, but the bullet still missedand lodged in his stomach, right?You know they had surgeons aroundto patch him up but not enough gasolineto get an ambulance there right away, right?You know that in prisonthey gave him new dentures, the enameletched with dots and dashes:"Remember Pearl Harbor." You know his war medalssit on display in a Pensacola museum?You know his nickname was "The Razor"?You know, toward the end, when the Nazishad the first jet fighter in history and no fuel,they had to hitch cows to its noseand roll it onto the runway?You know that, right? You knowthat in Mie Prefecture they tear downthe Shinto shrine every twenty yearsthen rebuild it, so that the knowledgeof how to build it survives?No one, as far as I know, taught mehow to destroy the way I do. [End Page 81]
Brian Michael Murphy's poems have appeared in Narrative, Waxwing, Birmingham Poetry Review, Queen Mob's Tea House, and elsewhere. He is a faculty member in Media Studies at Bennington College and an instructor in the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop. He holds a PhD in comparative studies from the Ohio State University, where he was a Presidential Fellow and is currently writing a nonfiction book titled We the Dead.