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Patricia Smith – Ⅳ

Speculum orisThe Speculum Oris was a scissor-shaped instrument inserted into the mouth of a slave to force the jaws open. The crew of slave ships would force captive Africans to eat so that they couldn’t escape servitude by starving themselves to death. 


the requisite tunnel

teeth in the way, tapped out

of the wailing




the weeping horn,

iron hammered thin

stretches face bone to bend,

tongue flails,

signs scream

in this cave of stunned



rusted screw pierced cheek

twist, tighten,

gums stretched bloodless




fat flies,

not believing

their bounty, explore,

dizzied by whispers

of oat rice threads of fat


woe is


snap shut

thoughts of swallow,

snaking head of possible

in the throat


you will eat. you

will live. eat. knees scissor

and knock no

to warm water,

shredded meat. last tooth

leans, relents,


skin welds

around this

iron, becomes this



around this

iron becomes this