Jack teaches English at the University of Massachusetts and Bristol Community College. He is a 2007 Pushcart Prize nominee, and History Press will release his latest book, The Cape Cod Canal: Breaking Through the Bared and Bended Arm, this spring. He lives in Assonet, MA.
© 2008 Jack Conway
Zen and the Art of Dental Hygiene
My father kept a monk in the house
all the time I was growing up.
He had a close shave in Burma
during the war and the monk saved his life.
His head was shaved and everyday
he wore the same orange robes.
"You'll never get to Nirvana
wearing pajamas," he told me.
Sometimes he strapped on a parachute
while burning incense and claimed
that his fall from grace would be a short one.
He was my father's spiritual advisor
and a part-time dental assistant.
Most days he stayed locked away
in his room meditating
and trying to master the art of levitating.
"Gravity is a travesty," he complained,
although he did maintain
that levitation was not a reliable
form of transportation.
As monks go, I reckon he was
someone to be reckoned with.
In a moment of blissful enlightenment
he proclaimed that refusing Novocain
was the only true way to
transcend dental medication.
All work is copyrighted property of Jack Conway.
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