"Nail Broth"

"Nail Broth"

"Nail Broth"

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A weekly poem, read by the author.
Dec. 3 2002 11:06 AM

Nail Broth

Listen to David Barber reading this poem. Rusty, twisted: scrounge one from a scrap-heap plank. How long did you say you've been down on your luck?

Rasping groan, out it comes: crude thing, fang-like.
Exactly how low are you intending to sink?

Lockjaw's no picnic. Look sharp: don't get pricked.
Wouldn't it be simpler to stick with the tin cup?


There's an old crone I know—a classic skinflint.
Doesn't she ever get wise to your act?

When you live by your wits, you go with your gut.
How do you sleep with such sham in your heart?

Root cellar, spice larder, bomb shelter, ice box.
Does it really help when you smack your lips?

Stir like you mean it. Keep up the sweet talk.
Do you know in your bones when she's ready to crack?

Steam up the panes. A round stone also works.
Are you trying to say you'll do whatever it takes?

David Barber is a staff editor at the Atlantic Monthly and the author of The Spirit Level, a book of poems.