Speaking in Tongues / paul dickey

Maybe it was the drool and drawl of God
on Deanu’s lips. Shun dala kalandiai.
That was as far as I could ever get.
My tongue stuck on consonants, clicked
to the same sound over and over — Kali,
Kali, until elders told me: maybe beseech God
next week; tomorrow is a school day.

Little Deanu Allen received the Spirit
that Sunday night, only three weeks past
his thirteenth birthday. The congregation
talked. His mother told my mother
what a blessing it was for Deanu to be
anointed, whom she admitted was often
a tad slow, not so good at his reggae.

the Lord does have a calling for Deanu,
but I was fifteen. Wasn’t it my time?
On Mondays through Saturdays, I prayed
to grow up to play in the American League
with the Yankees. No doubt God figured
me for a pagan and so I wasn’t going to get
the gift. The thing was I had heard Deanu
praying and heaving and bawling like we do
at the altar after preaching, and his tongues
sounded to me like my little brother getting
crazy in the house, going Kowabunga, dude,
Kowabunga, dude —
before Mom civilized him.


Paul Dickey‘s poetry is forthcoming or has appeared in print and online journals including Rattle, Mid-American Review, Free Lunch, Swink, and Crab Orchard Review, and he is the author of two chapbooks, including What Wisconsin Took (2006). Further information can be found here.