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The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body

by Alberto Ríos

Alberto Ríos explains the world not through reason but magic. These poems--set in a town that straddles Mexico and Arizona--are lyric adventures, crossing two and three boundaries as easily as one, between cultures, between languages, between senses. Drawing upon fable, parable, and family legend, Ríos utilizes the intense and supple imagination of childhood to find and preserve history beyond facts: plastic lemons turning into baseballs, a grandmother's long hair reaching up to save her life, the painted faith jumpers leaping to the earth and crowd below. This is magical realism at its shimmering best. The smallest muscle in the human body is in the ear. It is also the only muscle that does not have blood vessels; It has fluid instead. The reason for this is clear: The ear is so sensitive that the body, if it heard its own pulse, Would be devastated by the amplification of its own sound. In this knowledge I sense a great metaphor, But I do not want to be hasty in trying to capture or describe it. Words are our weakest hold on the world. -from "Some Extensions of the Sovereignty of Science" "Ríos is onto something new in his poetry, in the way that the real poets of any time always are." -American Book Review. Alberto Ríos teaches at Arizona State and is the author of eight books of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir about growing up on the Mexican border. He is the recipient of numerous awards and his work is included in over 175 national and international literary anthologies. His work is regularly taught and translated, and has been adapted to dance and both classical and popular music.

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