Mistranslated Valentines

by Matt Mason

It’s time to just admit
I don’t speak the language.
I’ve traveled through relationships
like a man walking the Champs Elysees

wearing peach shorts and a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt
who, in each boutique, shouts:
“One.  I.  Want.  One.  Of these.  Comprende?”
while seeming to pantomime the drama of fencepost digging.

People around me break into squeaks and ululations
like high-society dolphins; and the only words
I recognize as words ask:
“You know what I’m saying, don’t you?”

Well, I finally suspect
it may not have been adoration in her eyes
when I tried assigning words to what my heart pounded out
in the beats of this romance

language, as I opened my soul
and gushed: “You
are stuffed with bugs,
vowels, and perpendicular intersections;”

when I asked her
to be a deep excavation blown from a mountain;
or those times I kept insisting: “Spring months
ejaculate at the hotel, you who goes great with hashbrowns.”

Women turn away, run away
as if I’ve gotten the words jumbled
when I gush how she is the most
overweight object held by gravity,

tell her: “Oh bee vomit,
oh elk, you
are the opening in a boy cow,
you are the front door in the letter ‘G.’”

I’m beginning to suspect
that maybe
this isn’t the accepted way
of expression in this complicated language.

It seems I’ve been saying beautiful things.
Until they come out of my mouth.
I suspect I’ve gotten cocky
when I can speak eloquently

about movies, can read poems,
examine art and politics, touch
religious passions and inspire
a crowd to laughter;

but then, there I am
on her doorstep, unconcerned
that my phrase book is back in the glove compartment
as I lean close to whisper:

am so fond
of the lady sheep.”


Matt Mason has won a Pushcart Prize and two Nebraska Book Awards; was a finalist for the position of Nebraska State Poet; and organized and run poetry programming with the U.S. Department of State in Nepal, Romania, Botswana, and Belarus. He lives in Omaha with his wife, the poet Sarah McKinstry-Brown, and daughters Sophia and Lucia.


Filed under Poetry

2 responses to “Mistranslated Valentines

  1. Pingback: New Poem in Hawai`i Pacific Review | midverse.com

  2. Pingback: New Poem in Hawai`i Pacific Review – Matt Mason

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