"Medicated Youth" and "Lingua Epilepticus"
John Davis Jr.
Regular, but not normal:
Morning and night Phenobarbital
doses supplied by Pete’s Pharmacy, kept
in a half-hexagonal amber bottle, black-capped,
imprisoning thicker maroon-tinted liquid.
“Time for Mr. Pheeny,” my mother would chime,
as if personification would cure
the ugliness of it all. Then came
the incantation, chanted over loaded
stainless steel care-carried ounces –
Saccharine, smile-spoken words like that sweet air
sound before a hammer blow to a nail head.
My gullet burned bitter as rivulets
of the unkind fluid coursed downward, inward,
ensuring no seizure would pay us an unfriendly visit.
Everyday episodes of epileptic
childhood measured in
of neurological Castor Oil –
An AM/PM ritual reminder
that stuck in our
The tongue is a flame…no man can control.
-- James 3:6, 8(a)
Because it got in the way,
the tongue was always the worst part.
I’d gnaw it bloody raw, swollen
during those night seizures.
Tooth-sized, spit-filled wound holes
made village idiot speech:
Guttural utterance thick
with liquid breath and rattle.
Cured by time and ice,
my punctured, heart-rigid muscle,
bit and rudder healed could tell
again its clear and eloquent curses.
John Davis Jr. is a Florida poet whose work has been published internationally. His poems have recently appeared in Deep South magazine, Saw Palm, Touch: The Journal of Healing, and other fine journals. He is also completing his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Tampa.