16 April 2009

Barbara Hamby

[from Barbara Hamby's Babel, University of Pittsburgh, 2004]

O Deceitful Tongue

                     You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.
                                                                                      PSALMS 52:4

Rogue slab in the slaughterhouse of the mouth,
you love all words that whistle like bombs

through the delphinium sky. O tongue that sucks
honey from the vinegar bush -- demagogue, street

preacher, cutpurse at the afternoon hanging -- break
my neck a thousand times till I remember the digits

of your prime number. Drunk tongue, warling,
malt-mad forger in the bone orchard, give me

your traitor's code, so I can whistle my psalm
through the sinworm night. Tongue of rough

bread, blues tongue, wolf tongue. Kiss me,
deceitful mouth, smash my curtain of skin, devour

the air wild with bees, swallow their wings,
make me a bloody hive for their bitter queen.

Babel (Pitt Poetry Series)

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