top of page

dwaine rieves

how to intubate the trachea

Align your head with that of the body

on the table, lifting your eyes above

the mouth, assuming this is a controlled

process, narcotic in and last, of course,

a paralytic, so muscles hang limp

as you thumb up the chin, your fingers now

spreading the lips until the blade impales

the base of the epiglottis, which looks

like the spry bill of a little baseball

cap, that odd guard quaintly curled and stiff as

if also hardened from the welding sparks that

flew when your father bent close to the torch,

but you can’t dwell on what he had to do,

for you must lift the blade, must lift that bill

of this baseball cap above the body

that’s yours to keep going, for the pillars—

two cords parted but still touching upfront—

welcome you into this body, its breath

yours to control as if your own, no steps

to undo before implanting the tube

between the walls of the only process

you were ever really looking for.

Dwaine Rieves lives and writes in Washington, DC.  His novel Shirtless Men Drink Free has just been released.  His collection When the Eye Forms won the 2005 Tupelo Press Prize for Poetry.  He can be reached at

bottom of page