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Butchered Tongue

As a child it was the place names
Singing at me as the first thing
How the mouth must be employed
In every corner of itself

To say "Appalacicola"
Or "Hushpukena" like "Gweebara"
A promise softly sung of somewhere else
And as a young man

Blessed to pass so many road signs
And have my foreign ear made fresh again
On each unlikely sound
But feel at home

Hearing a music
That few still understand
A butchered tongue still
Still singing here above the ground

The ears were chopped
From young men
If the pitch-cap didn't kill them
They are buried

Without scalp
In the shattered bedrock of our home
You may never know your fortune
Until the distance has been shown between

What is lost forever
And what can still be known
So far from home
To have a stranger call you darling

And have your guarded heart
Be lifted like a child up by the hand
In some town that just means
'Home' to them

With no translator left to sound
A butchered tongue
Still singing here above the ground