Open 2023 Poems - Paul Hostovsky


By Paul Hostovsky


How is it possible
to have fond memories
of the pain,
to smile warmly
to remember
the suffering?
It’s a strange alchemy
that has turned
my first broken heart
at sixteen
into this cherished thing
I caress now
like a stone in a pocket,
taking it out
often, looking it over
turning and turning it
in the light
of today.


This Smile


I don’t speak your language
and you don’t
speak mine but
there is this smile,
the one that means I wish
I knew your language,
this shy, innocent, ignorant,
helpless smile that says
This is all I know how to say
in your language,
this smile I imagine
someone among the first
explorers might have smiled
at someone among the first
Indigenous people they encountered--
just might have–
before all the violence began.
This smile
that somehow survived
all the violence,
and all the ignorance,
and blossoms here on my face now,
and on your face.


Paul Hostovsky from U.S. has publsihed a number of poetry collections. His latest book of poems is MOSTLY, FutureCycle Press, 2021. He lives in Bostonand works as a sign language interpreter.


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