Babel

Every single tongue on the table
makes a part of talking,
as if licking a cosmic brain
to demarcate the contents
of its different languages.

Your accent is the Holy See,
each utterance ex cathedra,
buttressed by millennia
and crude fingers steeped in relief.

Admire the architecture,
not its fateful rhymes.
Stones aren’t notions,
but more like slaving traces.

Your finger is a hot knife
through historic butter.
You churn after the fact of it.

They said avoid inflation.
You keep it simple,
turn away the memo speak.

He’s hot for the all of it
and wraps us up in the shawl of it,
lingua longa, small words,
quivering heart.

Mi corazón
sounds noble,
alone, like a whistled song
whistled along the iron
casing cemeteries,
hands wrapped around fallen branches
sliding dry on what is wrought
as you pass nervously along
this purchased world.

Joseph Helminski teaches English at Oakland Community College near Detroit, and has published poems recently in Sweet Tree Review and The Tulane Review. Five of his poems will appear in the next issue of Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts & Letters.

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