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English Flavors

by
  I love to lick English the way I licked the hard 
round licorice sticks the Belgian nuns gave me for six
good conduct points on Sundays after mass.
Love it when ‘plethora’, ‘indolence’, ‘damask’, or my new word: ‘lasciviousness,’ stain my tongue, thicken my saliva, sweet as those sticks — black and slick with every lick it took to make daggers out of them: sticky spikes I brandished straight up to the ebony crucifix in the dorm, with the pride of a child more often punished than praised.
‘Amuck,’ ‘awkward,’ or ‘knuckles,’ have jaw- breaker flavors; there’s honey in ‘hunter’s moon,’ hot pepper in ‘hunk,’ and ‘mellifluous’ has aromas of almonds and milk .
Those tastes of recompense still bitter-sweet today as I roll, bend and shape English in my mouth, repeating its syllables like acts of contrition, then sticking out my new tongue — flavored and sharp — to the ambiguities of meaning.

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