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Paul Hostovsky


That boy was good with animals.
And he was good at animals the way
some hearing boys are good at
making sounds of artillery fire
using only the tongues in their heads.
Using only his face and his hands
he could paint any animal on the farm
on the air, and we’d recognize it
by some detail he’d capture, some
unmistakable physical thing, an angle
or posture, a sideways chewing,
the dangle of a tongue, the puppy’s ear hanging
inside-out like a pocket.

He was the only witness when the neighbor’s dog
got run over, and he told us the whole story
with his whole body, how the pickup
swerved to avoid her, grazing
her shoulder, the angle of impact
throwing her into the woods.
We all stood around, ignorant
of what happened exactly, hoping
and fearing as his story unfolded
and he embodied first the dog running, then
the truck braking, then
the dog then the truck then the dog
so we had the feeling we were seeing it all
just as it happened, and just as it was happening,
but in slow motion and with a zoom lens
and from six different camera angles.

© by Paul Hostovsky.
Used with the author’s permission.

Paul Hostovsky starting writing poetry in the fifth grade, inspired by his novelist father. Today, he is the author of more than a dozen books and his award-winning poems have been featured in a wide variety of print and online journals. Paul lives in Boston, where he is a sign language interpreter. Learn more about him at



Post New Comment:
I work with deaf college students. You capture their language vividly. Every body muscle vibrates a conversation.
Posted 05/26/2013 03:02 PM
Beautiful! Your images prove that showing indeed tells a story ~ the wonders of the hearing-challenged. We can all benefit from expanding our communication.
Posted 09/27/2012 10:08 AM
Beautiful story in this poem, the wonders of people with challenges and how they triumph in life. Maire
Posted 09/27/2012 05:28 AM
Larry Schug:
The second verse is a lesson we could all learn about communicating, about how to tell a story--with our entire being. Thanks
Posted 09/25/2012 01:04 PM
I really like the momentum of this's almost like a book you can't put down. There is a real impact at the end which adds to the underlying meaning of the poem.
Posted 09/25/2012 10:30 AM
the phrase "some hearing boys" does a lot of work. Nice poem.
Posted 09/25/2012 10:12 AM
Kay Sanders:
Beautiful, Paul. Thank you.
Posted 09/25/2012 05:26 AM

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