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By Ricardo Pau-Llosa

As a boy he had trouble speaking,

past three before a real word preened

from his lips. And for the longest time,

malaprops haunted him. His older sister

did what she could to train the bitten seal

of   his brain to twirl the red ball

on the nose of eloquence, and his grandmother

tired of   insisting he utter the names

of   toys or foods — for every desire

was coded — and gave him whatever

he grunted and pointed to.

O, the man then a boy

thought, when I tower among them

I should invent my own speech

and leave others empty and afraid

that they did not know it, could not ask

or plead their case in the one tongue

that mattered. I shall have them

look upon the simplest things,

the man then a boy thought,

and fill up with stolen awe,

and point with their faces,

their pupils wide as blackened coins,

and hope with all the revenue

shattered heart-glass can muster

that someone had grasped

their need as need and not

as the monstrous coupling

of   sounds in a trance of whims.

Then, the grind of   his teeth

vowed, then the plazas of my city

will fill with my name,

and their blood will matter

as little to them as to me.


Source: Poetry (February 2013)

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Living
  • Relationships

Poet Bio

Ricardo Pau-Llosa
Ricardo Pau-Llosa has published six books of poetry, the last four with Carnegie Mellon University Press. He is also a widely published art critic and curator. See More By This Poet

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