Dustbiter Ben Thomas Poetry

local_library Dustbiter

by Ben Thomas

Published in Issue No. 288 ~ May, 2021

At some point, you stop trying to twist

your scissors between the vacuum brush 

bristles to loose a decade’s worth

of lost hair. The blades slip

more than snip. It’s all wrapped 

around the axle. 


Memory and morbidity are easy to come by here. 

Has anyone ever solved a murder

by dredging DNA from the killer’s Hoover?

you wonder.


The fact is, the vacuum’s shot.

Lately, it’s been picking up nothing

and kicking up particles of your dead dog, 

leaving your living room stale-smelling 


and nostalgic for hours after.

This half-hearted hack-and-slash 

is just your last-ditch stab at salvage

before you drag that sucker upstairs


and chuck it in the dumpster.

Still. With a fingernail, you pick one strand—


once—free of the dust-caked tangle.


Tease out a loop large enough 

to hook with a pinky like a bur

barbed into your old dog’s fur,

how at pity parties you said you should have

knit yourself with him, or her,

and yank—


stay up all night like this, 

pulling hair in the dark.

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Ben Thomas is the assistant editor at the Frist Art Museum in Nashville. His work has appeared in Nashville Poets Quarterly and the Belmont Literary Journal.