Palate of the Babel Fish

by Todd Dillard

It’s too simple to say I subsist on brainwaves;
it’s the words that flavor your thoughts
I truly crave: the sizzling char of a “cataclysm,”
the way “mantequilla
sexes the tongue like a knife
cutting through a cold stick of butter,
then spreading the spat across
a slice of bread. Even the names
of earthling gods are delicious: how
“Fenrir” elicits a gasp,
then snarl, or how “Zeus”
jolts the tongue. Give me the sour
surprise and scream of your “yokai,”
the spicy choke and purr of your “tiger.”
Because my kind are universal translators,
they say we’ve started more wars than any
creature in creation. Know this:
language has always been the bloodiest
of battlefields. But also know this:
without war, a babel fish’s favorite food
would be in scarce supply: “hope,” that sweet,
single bite, how it swells to fill the mouth,
how it seems to end suddenly, as if too soon.


Copyright © 2018 by Todd Dillard


Featured Poet of the Month  Todd Dillard

Todd Dillard's writing has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous publications, including Electric Literature, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Strange Horizons, Barrelhouse, and Best New Poets. His chapbook "The Drowned Hymns" is available from Jeanne Duval editions, and his flash fiction was recently nominated for the Best Small Fictions 2018 anthology. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and daughter, and can be found on Twitter as @toddedillard.