Ode to Tin Snips

This entry is part 19 of 31 in the series Odes to Tools

Scissors with an overbite,
blades like quotation marks
devouring the text —
some lost codex from
the Aluminum Age —
& leaving in its place
a jagged rent: massively
buck-toothed myself,
I know how elusive
a clean break can be.
Despite what orthodontists
would have us think,
a naturally straight bite
is a rare thing.
Most of us learn early
how to compensate,
squaring the circle,
holding our heads over
whatever plate, baring
our lips in the inevitable
tin grin.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

8 Comments


  1. Most of us learn early how to compensate… wonderful, powerful ending.

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  2. Thanks, lissa and marja-leena. The weird thing is I actually ended up using tin snips this afternoon. It wasn’t the poem’s influence; they were the only possible tool for the job (removing some old gutters from a high roof).

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  3. Another fine addition to the list. There’s a chapbook in the making here.

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  4. Oh, this is terrific! My favorite. Except for the other ones I’ve designated my favorites. Or maybe not even them. “Some lost codex from the aluminum age” — !!!!!

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  5. I laughed out loud at “the aluminum age.” I HATE using tinsnips – always injure myself and always do a bad job cutting – makes me feel like I’m back in first grade.

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  6. Two images from the poem of snips with an overbite came to me. “Codex from the Aluminum Age “—One long ago Mother’s day my cub scout actually gave me words laboriously cut from aluminum cans nailed to a wooden plaque. It said ‘Home Oh Home’. For years I worried that our home was not sweet enough. I finally asked him. He said “Mom, there wasn’t enough room on the plaque!”.

    The second was farther back when I and a 12 year old pal not realizing they were not hedge clippers “borrowed” my father’s tin snips to trim our way into a heavily vined alcove in a nearby cliff. Dad was not pleased, although I failed to see how shrubbery could “ruin” something meant for metal. Anyway, grindstone to the rescue where “A gleaming new moon would rise from century-old rust.”. (and some pollen)

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  7. Thanks, all.

    sarah b – “makes me feel like I’m back in first grade” – I agree. They’re pretty much designed for hack jobs, though, that’s the thing.

    Joan – Those are great stories; thanks. Interesting that both involve children, given Sarah’s observation.

    I’d love a plaque like that – it’s so much more poetic than “home sweet home”!

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