Bruce Beasley

“behold, i am against
the prophets,” saith
the lord, “who with
sweet tongues say,
‘the lord saith’”

As once a six-winged seraph lifted, on the altar’s tongs,
a lit coal to sear

a prophet’s unpurged mouth,
& Ezekiel chewed a papyrus scroll

written outside & in with oversweetened
words of lamentation & song & woe, & slow-

of-tongue Moses,
holy-inhabited, still

stood before Pharaoh quavering
through his uncircumcised lips

so, betongued & vatic, speak of this

spotted rose snapper: through its gills
crawls a parasitic crustacean

tongue-bug, c. exigua, hard-
segmented, white-shelled, to fix

its seven pairs of hooks
into the mouth’s artery & blood-

suck the fish’s tongue down to a stub
to supplant that shrivel

from now on with its own
fastened-on & tongue-rhymed body—

Let the Spirit of the Lord

speak through thee, and His word
be in thy tongue,

what tongue thou have,
exoskeletal, lingual & occupying

(Son of Man, eat
what thou findest,

eat this scroll)
. Peering
out toward incoming

scraps of sustenance
through the snapper’s pink, possessed gape, those black

teeth-encaged eyes, that mouth enmouthed…