Possibly my favorite quote of all time comes from a book called Live From Earth by Lance Olsen:
“You wanna hear a new poem?” he asked. He took out a crumpled scrap of paper from his back pocket and read a poem about a dentist fighting a miniature radioactive Godzilla in the mouth of one of his patients. Every time the dentist would try to drill the monster to death it would slink behind a tooth, so in the end the poor patient had a mouth full of holes and raw nerves, plus the monster which finally ran down his throat…*
I read Live From Earth over the course of several lunch hours in grade 11 (when I didn’t feel like going down to the caf and socializing, I would curl up in a corner of our school library with a book). It is quite an odd little novel, and probably the greatest regret of my high school career is that I didn’t steal it before I graduated. I was completely taken with the idea of this Godzilla running around in a patient’s mouth at the dentist’s office. But I wished that Lance Olsen had included the actual poem itself. I always wondered how it went. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, and I imagine it as a lengthy, epic tale — a sort of poetic equivalent of Ahab vs. Moby Dick (with the patient representing the crew of the Pequod).
On the other hand, I was pondering it the other day and visualizing it as more of a rock opera – a contemplation on the themes of society, man vs. beast, and dental hygiene, set to music:
“Tiny monsters are quite rare —
You don’t see them just anywhere.
It seems my luck has headed south,
For one has popped up in my mouth!
My dentist, he is quite perplexed,
And I myself am feeling vexed.
When shall this tribulation pass?
I think I need more laughing gas…”
“Though I possess good looks and grace,
I’m hunted by the human race.
Misunderstood — alas, that’s me,
But I’m a decent guy, you’ll see!
I’ll stop tormenting this poor man,
Run down his throat, that is my plan…
Please don’t shed a tear for me –
There’s honor in nobility.”
I don’t know, you guys. I feel like the possibilities here are endless. How fun would it be to stage this show?
*Olsen, Lance. Live From Earth. Ballantine Books, 1990.