by Zachary Caballero

If you change one letter,
lonely becomes lovely.
When I say cast a spell,
I want you to misspell
the ugliest word
you have called yourself.
Misremember its parts,
take power by the syllable
Grab a letter by its throat.
Every word ever spoken
stays invisible unless written.
Name the shadows in the dark.
Pick your tongue up like an ax.
No, your tongue is an ax.
No, your tongue is a tongue.
Sling the word you have reshaped.
If you change one letter,
wanting becomes waiting.
If you add one letter,
heart becomes hearth.
If you add one letter,
star becomes start.

The beginning is always like this,
metamorphosis through addition,

Listen, each word nothing more
than invention, invocation, invitation.

Again, again, again, my tongue spins
a sentence, a spool of creation,

Silkworm imitation.

Yes, your tongue is silk with blood
Alive with the words you’ve drug
through the mud of love, erasure
is a patient process.

A word, like any earthly body,
must erode, if only to grow again,

Must end in flames, if only to begin.