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The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  130 ratings  ·  13 reviews
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 pres ...more
Paperback, 110 pages
Published April 1st 2002 by Copper Canyon Press
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Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book of poems. I call them poems because the structure was like poetry but they read more like prose. Rios, is a great storyteller with a delightful grasp of metaphor. I wrote down many of my favorite stanzas and pieces and there were two poems especially that I felt worthy of recitation, something I'd hoped to do before writing this but haven't gotten round to.
Here are few excerpts from some of my favorites:

Intro to and exerpt from "My Chili"
"The Santa Cruz valley lies a
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent poetry book, full of deep narratives and storytelling.
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I truly enjoyed these poems which are primarily set in Nogales, Arizona straddling the Mexican-US border. There's a bit of magic and misdirection and a whole lot of truth.
Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
If only for the first poem, "A Physics of Sudden Light," and this line: "You are not where you were/but you have not moved."
Dec 06, 2009 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars really
Nov 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
There are many good poems in here, including one that has so many of the words I swoon over I wish I'd written it myself.
Thomas M.
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
"Alberto Rios is the man you want to sit next to when it is time to hear a story."
--Southwest BookViews

The Lemon Kind of Baseball
(By Alberto Rios)

Even though I had a six-finger glove
I couldn’t stay in Little League
Because I didn’t have a ride home.

I played it anyway, a game of our own
That came to the hand
Naturally, in time, a friend

With a hundred names and a thousand rules,
Every summer different from the last
So that the game,

The game was new every time.
At home our game was lighter
And cheaper
Susan Eubank
Here is what we did at the Reading the Western Landscape Book Club at the Arboretum Library of the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden on Tuesday, December 17, 2019

As we did with last December's poetry book, the group read their favorite poems from the book and we briefly discussed some of their challenges.
The titles we read were:
The Weekly Morning Meeting of the Town's Civic Band
Mr. Palomino Walks By Again
Los voladores de Papantla
Appointment Hours
Kid Hielero
In Second Grade Miss Lee I
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
This is the first collection by Rios that I have read. I learned about him because he is coming to Oklahoma City as a guest poet in two years. One of his poems that helped my committee decide to choose him is in this collection: "Refugio's Hair."

Other standouts in this impressive book:
My Chili
What We've Done to Each Othe
Rabbits and Fire
Summers, about 1959
The Lemon Kind of Baseball
Holding My Shirts
Writing From Memory
Ambrose Miles
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sometimes 41/2 stars.
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Delighted with this find. I've read "Kid Hielero" to several captive audiences and will not think of watermelon in the same way again.
Jul 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: poems
"Chili: First cousin to the ant bite," (40)

"To get away from the birds, the rain tries a mask: / It becomes snow, a show of wings, the flakes / Drunk moths in an aimless, cool wander." (68)

My favorite: the final poem, "Some Extensions on the Sovereignty of Science"
Malcolm Alexander
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In 1952, Alberto Alvaro Ríos was born on the American side of the city of Nogales, Arizona, on the Mexican border. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arizona in 1974 and a MFA in Creative Writing from the same institution in 1979.

He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Dangerous Shirt (Copper Canyon Press, 2009); The Theater of Night (2007); The Smallest Mus

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