Winner of the Puerto del Sol 2018 Poetry Contest
selected by Farid Matuk
The language in question is criminal // like a shark it ate a license plate // and it ate the shark // well the fins it poached anyway // it gorges like a gorge // the river flowing like a scarf someone kept pulling // it ate away the deposits of clay // like a sink hole the language in question // ate a chateaux and the family inside // it pickpockets the stranger with gusto // it barters with bards // pays in counterfeit // money is no object // the tongue desires // the language acquires // the language in question likes conquest // moves west because it hungers like locust // like the larvae of the caddisfly // this tongue makes a shell of what it pilfered // it’s the apex predator in the food pyramid // it ransacked the pyramids // tours the spoils of theft to the country of origin // but only on loan // a paper wasp that makes its home from what it chewed and spat back out of your own // and it stings you if you get too close // too close // stung // I told you the language in question is the S-shaped tongue of the anteater // the so-called worm tongue // it warms itself at the fire it made from other people’s scrolls // codices // tomes // it entombs and embalms and lights bombs // the language in question thinks its Billy the Kid // the language in question is shooting up the saloon // the language in question is shooting up meth // dope // coke // whatever’s on hand is the drug of choice // the language in question is corrupt // it’s poison and salve // savage and sage // it’s honey suckle and bitter oleander // only a lawyer could make sense of it // and sell it to the highest bidder// like a snake that ate a parrot whole // spits out the bright feathers // without a bird to hold them together // that’s what it’s like when the accent doesn’t even come close // the language gets twisted // the tongue gets tired // I’d bet it’s kinky and likes to be tied // likes every bit of itself bit // this tongue bids adieu //
holed in the mouth // ah-dee-ose // ah-mee-goes
Benjamin Garcia is a Community Health Specialist who provides HIV/HCV/STD and opioid overdose prevention education to higher risk communities throughout New York’s Finger Lakes region. He had the honor of being the 2017 Latin@ Scholar at the Frost Place and the 2018 CantoMundo Fellow at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, Lambda Literary, New Found, Boston Review, Kenyon Review Online, Best New Poets 2016, and Gulf Coast.