Alberto Rios

Dentist, Mexico, 1959
February 14, 2012 Rios Alberto

Dentist, Mexico, 1959


The room was big, not small.

The noise was big, not small.


The light was small, not big.

The light


Caught me as I sat, a spotlight

I had seen in the movies, aimed


At those prison escapees running

As fast and as hard as they could.


I thought about it.

I looked around, starting a plan.


But then I saw el señor doctor.

He would have been the ringmaster


Had this been the circus, and had

He not looked the way he looked.


This man was sad first, a sad man,

A doctor second,


A dentist now.  He did not want

To cause me the certain pain


He was about to cause me,

Be the tiger-lion he was about to become


In the eyes and mouth of a little boy,

In the long-lingering roar of imagination


He knew and I knew

We were at the edge of.

Alberto Álvaro Ríos is the author of eleven books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir.  His books of poems include, most recently, A Small Story About the Sky.  Ríos is the recipient of the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award, fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Walt Whitman Award, the Western States Book Award for Fiction, six Pushcart Prizes in both poetry and fiction, and inclusion in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, as well as over 250 other national and international literary anthologies.  His work is regularly taught and translated, and has been adapted to dance and both classical and popular music.