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Published: Tue Jul 1 2003
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.

If, as Kit Smart said, toads have compensation
_     _for being toads, “since there are stones whose
constituent particles are toads,” this particular
_     _Algonquian helps constitute a granite range
whose high inflections interweave. He flows
_     _between subject and object, neither and both.
He is, as the linguists say, non-configurational,
_     _and like the wind up there no one can tell
whence he came or where he goes. He’s all
_     _action, all tiny jerks whose frames overlap
so quick they almost look seamless, impulses
_     _received and renewed just about at the
same time and at the same fast speed but
_     _as if that is too slow and he could go faster
if he really tried. Impulse and impulse,
_     _each thought an impulse tried successfully
many times over. Try saying him.
_     _Try thinking him with no words.

Brian Swann has published many books in a number of genres: poetry, short fiction, children’s books, translation, and Native American studies, including Words in the Blood: On Translating Native American Literature (University of Nebraska Press, 2011) and his most recent poetry collection, In Late Light (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). He lives in Manhattan and Vega, New York. (updated 10/2013)

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