Paul Hostovsky πŸ”ˆ


The sign at the end of the corridor
says Authorized Personnel Only.

Are you authorized? he says.
I’m an author, I say. I have
authored. I am authorial.

Don’t be smart, he says.
I’m not smart, I say. I’m
pretty average, really. A writer
writes. Period. And reads a lot.

You can’t be here, he says,
his finger worrying his holster.

There is no verb “to be,” I say,
in American Sign Language.
Which doesn’t mean that Deaf
Americans aren’t. Or that they don’t
talk about being. And I hold up
one forefinger.

I’m going to count to three, he says.
And he holds up one forefinger.

Your forefinger and my forefinger, I say,
are two persons, two personnel,
two pronouns, two classifiers
in ASL.

Two, he says.

But that’s classified, I say,
hoping it might disarm him.

Three, he says,
and I blow him a kiss.

Breaker 1-9, he says into his walkie-talkie,
staring straight at me. We’ve got
a nutjob here. Do you copy?

That’s when I take out my hand-turned
red cedar pen, and I begin copying
this all down.

Author Reading

About the Author

Paul Hostovsky’s poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. Find him online at