George Washington

The first President of the United States owned slaves

& although he did release them upon his death

while he was alive he would take their teeth

& attempted to graft them into his gums

undergoing bold & radical surgery

even by today’s standards


It is doubtful that anyone willingly

had their teeth pulled

not even for old George Washington

whose discomfort can be seen in photographs yellowed & cracked

like the wooden dentures making his face pucker in pain

as if sucking on a lemon or trying chewing tobacco


Just as the mouths of slaves puckered around tong

& pliers, trying not to scream while they suffered

egregious indignity and barbarism, to have teeth

harvested only to see them go to waste

Jason Arment

Jason Arment served in OIF as a Machine-Gunner in the USMC. He’s earned an MFA in CNF from VCFA. His work has appeared in The Iowa Review, the 2017 Best American Essays, The New York Times, among other publications and on ESPN. His memoir, Musalaheen, stands in stark contrast with other narratives about Iraq, in both content and quality. Jason lives in Denver, where he coordinates the Denver Veterans Writing Workshop with Lighthouse. Much of his work can be found at

Contributions by Jason Arment