Poetry & Prose

a lesson on homonyms

Art by Marisa Sparacio

“you” pronounced /juː/
rounded in the mouth
is a polite address even though
second-person is always rude

yuu pronounced “yoo”
is an example of the elite language—
articulated in a flat tone, like land discounted
then re-owned as shopping rewards for the loyal

魚 pronounced yú
is the same in mandarin textbooks
and at home when mama dishes out
soy sauce steamed garoupa

瘀 pronounced jyu2
is an embarrassing stain on
the face that hurts more
than a bruise to your own soul

如 pronounced jyu4
not rú nor jyu(1 ≤ x ≤ 9 | x ≠ 4)
is the conditional if—
if only true trilingualism was attainable

pronounced jyu5 and yǔ
the same way as yú and jyu4
speech 言 and the self 吾 make up 語
that is, the character for