A Small Motor

By Alberto Ríos b. 1952 Alberto Rios
The easiest sadness is a boy   
Watching another boy
Walk with a barefooted girl, clean

Perfect feet, that kind of nose,   
Eyes like those he’s dreamed   
In the dream that comes back.

A boy watching another boy lucky   
Gets an ache
That is a small motor.

In me there is an animal,   
And in that animal   
There is a hunger.

I remember the boy   
Watching a boy.   
It was me.

Watching, I was a little bit   
The boy walking.   
I was both of us.

That’s how it felt.   
What I could not have,   
That’s what I was

Inside, an ache   
Coming as I stood   
Too many places.

Alberto Ríos, “A Small Motor” from The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body. Copyright © 2002 by Alberto Ríos. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body (Copper Canyon Press, 1989)

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Poet Alberto Ríos b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Youth

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Alberto  Ríos


Alberto Ríos has won acclaim as a writer who uses language in lyrical and unexpected ways in both his poems and short stories, which reflect his Chicano heritage and contain elements of magical realism. "Ríos's poetry is a kind of magical storytelling, and his stories are a kind of magical poetry," commented Jose David Saldivar in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Ríos grew up in a Spanish-speaking family but was forced to . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Youth

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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