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when i was a kid i was an asshole to my cousin—

me, with a mole the size of the moon sitting beneath my left nostril.

he, 6 years younger than me, taking speech classes.

he always pronounced yellow, lell-low

i died laughing,

then died a second time when he tried to say it again.

my brothers and i called him big nostrils;

those things were the size of hula hoops.

we all died, went to heaven and came back when his nostrils flared when he talked.

eventually he didn’t want to talk anymore,

and i made fun of him until he became mute.

 

i’m 27 years old now—

me, a grown man taking speech therapy,

not because my speech got crumbled up because of a car accident or a near-death stroke.

but i left out the part

where i was ridiculed by everyone else for the mammoth size mole beneath my left nostril.

people pointed and said yeww that big booger beneath your nose;

they pointed until my eyes followed my shoe laces.

i altered the way i said words so the mole wouldn’t move that much

so i wouldn’t stand out like a black flower in a red rose bed.

 

life is just like those hula hoops,

and things come around full circle sometimes.

 

my cousin is 21 now—

he, a tall thing of confidence and can talk anyone’s ear off

while i can barely get my own name out right to people.

now look who’s talking?



Oak Morse is a poet, speaker, and teacher who has traveled across the Southeast as a performance poet as well as a teacher of literary poetry. He has a Bachelor of Journalism from Georgia State University. He is the winner of the 2017 Magpie Award for Poetry for the poem “Garbage Disposal” in Issue 16 of Pulp Literature. Other work of his has appeared in the UndergroundPage and Spine, Fourth & Sycamore, DrylandUniversity of Canberra, and Patch. Oak currently lives in Houston, Texas, where he works on his poetry collection titled When the Tongue Goes Bad, a themed set of work aimed to bring attention to a contemporary speech disorder diagnosis known as “cluttering,” a diagnosis which Oak has worked tirelessly to overcome. You can find more of his work at www.oakmorse.com.
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