Social Justice Poetry

A Toothache during the Bombing of Baghdad | A Social Justice Poem by Larry Schug

The throbbing wisdom tooth kept me up three nights
with three days of pain between,
each throb followed by another heartbeat of hurt,
but that’s all it was; just pain, plain old pain–
no misery, agony, anguish or torment, just pain.
It was just a toothache that hurt like hell
but I thought that there’s probably some poor bastard
hiding in a bombed-out basement in Baghdad
whose wisdom tooth is throbbing just like mine
and he has no shot of blessed novocaine, no laughing gas,
no pretty nurses, lifting his shirt, fitting him with monitors
before they put him under for the extraction.
All that man has is prayer to ease his pain
and a gun that he’s thinking about using on his tooth.
All he can manage is half-awake sleep
but no pretty nurse wakes him
after a while to tell him he can go home now,
his pain is gone.

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