Babel by Matt Dennison

The first woman I loved other than  
my Beauty Queen Cousin who walked me  
to the store on a rare visit to her city  
when I was five or my mother who  
slapped my hand from her breast  
when I was six in the presence  
of others was my speech therapist  
in the third grade. Though able  
to read books well above me,  
I lisped, stuttered, struggled  
to speak the simplest of words  
in the presence of others, created  
my first Spoonerism in kindergarten  
when, ordered to speak a story into  
the microphone of the visiting doctor,  
said that a man reached into his apple  
and pulled out a pocket. Gibberish  
bled from me when touched. But she  
was beautiful, there for me and me alone  
every Tuesday afternoon and I lisped, stuttered  
and struggled until the dam finally broke and  
my words flowed like a lava tsunami.


After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans, Matt Dennison’s work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also made videos with poetry videographers Michael Dickes, Swoon, and Marie Craven.