The arm is an exclamation point
And strengthens the phrasing as if to confront
In body language, fleshed out and blunt,
Vows to annihilate or to anoint.
Two exclamation points the Spaniard keeps in sight
Before and after the words themselves —
Poniards raised and lowered, left and right;
Rapier wit attracts and repels.
So which is the dot — the fist or armpit?
The shoulder or the palm? O soldier and psalm,
This fine calligraphy lies so clenched and calm,
As if no bolder hand can harm it.
NOTES for Students of English
“Two exclamation points the Spaniard keeps in sight” – In Spanish punctuation, an exclamatory phrase is both ended by an exclamation point and preceded by an inverted one; for example: ¡Qué horrible!
Poniard – (Pronounced PON-yerd) A dagger.
Bolder hand – A play on two meanings: 1) a stronger physical hand, and 2) a darker handwriting (as in boldface type).