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Here’s the church and here’s the steeple.

The Deaf students have barricaded the door,

hot-wired the school buses, moved them

in front of the gates and let the air out of the tires.

They’ve shut the campus down, and the police

can’t do anything about it because they don’t

know sign language. And neither does the president

of the college. And neither does the chairman of the board

of trustees, and neither do the trustees themselves.

The trustees can’t be trusted with this college, this

church, this school, this blessed sacrament…


In the Deaf world Deaf people marry

other Deaf people, and live in Deaf houses,

and do not throw Deaf carpenters’ telephone numbers

away, but give them to other Deaf homeowners

looking for a good Deaf carpenter, because Deaf

is a good and trusted name all over the Deaf world…


Here’s the hospital and here’s the urology unit.

Open the door and see all the doctors

with their deft fingers and expensive educations.

Here is one performing a vasectomy

on a Deaf patient who has elected to have it

because he doesn’t want any more children.

And the surgeon has a slight accent, maybe

German. And the sign language interpreter

has a professional code of ethics,

and is signing what the surgeon is saying

but not what the interpreter is thinking

about German-speaking surgeons and vasectomies,

about Aryans and eugenicists and the forced

sterilizations of the congenitally deaf

in Europe only 40 years ago, about the protests

going on right now at Gallaudet, and about

cochlear implants being performed in this very hospital

on Deaf children who haven’t elected to have them…


Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

He was a teacher of the Deaf. He had a Deaf mother,

and a Deaf wife too, and he knew

that Deaf people marry other Deaf people

and live in Deaf houses. And he deplored that fact.

He deplored Deaf people. He urged Congress to act,

to prohibit Deaf marriages, to reduce the risk

of more Deaf babies. He wasn’t a Hitler,

or an Eichmann, exactly. He didn’t advocate

killing the Deaf. He loved the Deaf. He taught the Deaf.

He was only trying to eradicate the Deaf

for their own good, for the good of the world…


Here’s the church and here’s the steeple

and the Deaf students are burning

their oppressors in effigy. They’re saying: Look!

To anyone with eyes to see, they’re saying: Look!

And the interpreter’s fingers are flying,

and the surgeon’s fingers are snipping, and the nurse is

adjusting the light above the Deaf patient

lying on the table with his johnny hiked up, his little

Deaf penis the center of attention. And the interpreter

who has been trying all this time not to look at it,

looks at it. Takes a good long look.

Originally published in my DEAF&BLIND by Paul Hostovsky (Main Street Rag, 2020).