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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.

Purchase a framed print of this poem.

When he's not writing award-winning poems, Bostonian Paul Hostovsky makes his living as a sign language interpreter at the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He is the author of five chapbooks and four full-length poetry collections, including his latest, Hurt Into Beauty. To read more of Paul's work, visit


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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