Deaf Bachelor Party                                                                                         —Paul Hostovsky

They've blindfolded one among them.
Now they're fingerspelling in his hand
and marching him dizzy round Quincy Market
where our little crowd of onlookers has formed,
drawn to the sight of their uproarious
silence. We watch their sign language, try to follow.
Presumably he's the one who, hungover,
dies into marriage in the morning.
But tonight he's theirs, their sport, the ball
of banter flying from hand to hand,
and each hand seems to add a different twist,
a new and inscrutable spin to this game of catch,
the whips and throws of their signs as noiseless
as their laughter is loud. And it grows louder
as they guide him to the horse-and-carriage tours
at the curb, place his hand on a horse’s ass
and watch his face for a sign: he feels around,
sniffs, tilts his head at a listening angle,
then signs some untranslatable pun, sending them
howling, boneless, weaving in wobbles and reels
till they’ve reached the solemn statue of Josiah Quincy.
They snap to attention, salute, park the bewildered
bridegroom face-front, guide his hand down the aquiline
marble nose, lips, chin, cravat, down to the inevitable
crotch! All hands on! Which cracks them up all over again
and even coaxes some titters from us, their emboldened
audience daring closer, having trailed them from horse
to statue to the doors of the pub they file into, leaving us
out. Which is where we were all along, we suddenly realize.
A few of us clap, then look down at our hands a moment
before thrusting them back in our pockets
where they seem to belong.

Paul Hostovsky

Paul Hostovsky is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently The Bad Guys, which won the FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize for 2015. His 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. He was a Featured Poet on the Georgia Poetry Circuit in 2013. He makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter. A new book of poems, Is That What That Is, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press in 2017. To read more of his work, visit him at

ISSN 2472-338X
© 2016