The Perfect Toothbrush

While visiting Santa Rosa recently the whole group went to a local bookstore, and, even though I have a Wishlist full of books at Amazon to read, I couldn’t resist browsing through the poetry shelf, knowing full well my addiction would never allow me to leave the store without buying at least one book. Hey, what’s retirement for if not to read everything you’ve ever wanted to read.

I knew when I looked at the cover

Book Cover

that Padgett’s How to Be Perfect must have been written especially for me. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I’d also been reading cummings and had thoroughly enjoyed the humor of his poems, a quality even too many of my favorite poets lack.

This short poem struck something, hopefully my funny bone:


As the whisk broom
is the child of the ordinary broom,
which is cousin to the janitor’s broom,
I am a toothbrush
when it comes to bristling,
insufficiently angry
or maybe too angry
to keep my bristles intact
since I know the debris
of the world is too great
for me to handle.
If I could save the world
by being crucified
I certainly would.
But who would nail
a toothbrush to a cross?

Sometimes it’s depressing when you see things in their proper perspective, other times it may seen as liberating.

Despite all my aspirations and a lifetime spent trying to improve the world, I doubt I’ve even stopped even a single case of dental decay.

9 thoughts on “The Perfect Toothbrush”

  1. I love this poem, and the cover is perfect for you. Anyway, since you were a teacher, I’m sure you made a difference, to someone, somewhere. (And probably a multitude of someones, really.) I hope so, because if you didn’t, then I don’t, and in that case I’ll just have to quit!

  2. You make a difference daily with your beautiful photos!

    That poem has a “haul you up short” quality to it….LOL

  3. It takes a poet to make me look at a toothbrush in this way 🙂

    And then there is “mental floss.” See April 1 at

    Looking forward to hearing more of Ron Padgett. Beautiful cover and book title. A good find from your Santa Rosa trip.

  4. A beautiful cover, and a poet I am not familiar with. Today I will be googling Ron Padgett and reading poems. People who fear the freedom of toothbrushes will always nail them to the cross. There is no bristle too insignificant that it shouldn’t be dealt with swiftly and with extreme prejudice.

  5. The term “mental floss” creased me up, am. I loved it! Beats “mental dross” anyday – which the media and routine life subject us to most of the time.

  6. Loren – Wow, I’ve missed visiting here (been distracted). I like Ron Padgett a lot, and felt tickled and bristly along with the toothbrush. Embarassed and insignificant and armless. Thanks for spending some time on him.

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