Wednesday, January 21, 2015

See Me Feel Me


Silence has the edge.
My hearing started going but I don’t get
Monsters, like a real artist.
Of course I think of Goya when I think
Of going deaf, I can’t help it,
It’s a reflex, it’s how I was raised,
For comfort, I turn the pages
Of Los Caprichos, think thank god,
It’s not just me.
They really do look like that,
The heads of asses, the gaping mouths
With no sound. It’s not just me.

My hearing started going, and I don’t get silence.
Some get oceans, some get bells,
Some get the test of the Emergency Broadcast System.
I get crickets, I get distant sirens.
Where is the bug, where is the accident?
In the other room? A few blocks away?
Inside or outside? Here I am,
In a state of perpetual alarm.

Oh and also Poe, the prince of auditory hallucinations.
Some hear things that never were, and think
Why not? They turn their shame into a heartbeat
And scream and give themselves away.
I bet you heard that alright! Here come the cops again.

You could look at it this way, there must have been at least
One time in your life that you were alone
In a house, even just a room, just a bed, and you hear things
You’re not sure, was that a thing, and you think:
Someone’s in here. Someone’s coming after me.
Your mind turns the random creaks and pops
Into a pattern, and then into a person.
You just want the sounds to make sense.
But there’s no one there. There’s no one after you,
No one following you, no one spying on you,
Reading your texts, researching your movements,
Trying to find out your next move, building an altar to you,
Filming you, filming you everywhere, nobody.
You’re alone. It’s OK. You’re completely alone.

Silence, like any other weapon, depends
For its effectiveness on range, the skill
Of the one who wields it, and the quality
And care put into its manufacture.
I’d say you’ve got these covered.
You’re no toddler in the supermarket cart,
Taking mommy’s gun out of her purse to play
With and shooting the cashier. You’re trained.
You know what you’re doing. But I have to tell you--
(I shout into the night, at the treeline at the edge
Of the yard, because I can always say I’m drunk,
If the neighbors say it’s a problem, if they say
She needs to see somebody. Calling out,
Talking back to the ones who aren’t there,
Who have never talked to me,
That’s my weapon.) --I have to tell you,
I know you’re out there. I can’t hear you,
But I know you’re out there.

Crickets are prized for their singing
Or for their fighting. The nobleman holds
An exquisite cricket vessel in his portrait. I feel him hearing
The papery crinkle of the cricket hopping,
The surprisingly rounded thud against
The walls of its molded gourd.
The cage is designed to amplify sound.

I get sirens. I wish I’d get the ocean.
I’d like to duck and plug my ears
And hear the resounding boom. Close my eyes
And breathe water. Oh salt, salt, clear me.
Some people pay a lot for this kind of treatment.
I want the ocean. It doesn’t drown out the crickets.
In their cunningly crafted gourds, they bob
Out on the tide and into the stream.

Photo: Ann-Margret gets sudsed.


Anonymous said...

Thank you

Slothrop said...

This is my favorite poem by you, ever. If (as I heard once) a poem is an encounter w/ the sacred, than this is poetry in its purest form. I love the urgency, imagery, pun on "gourd." It's a picture of a feeling bursting from its frames.

The sacred is something that transcends our senses (bodily apparatus). Doesn't help to close your eyes w/ holy dread.

I drove eight hours to my in-laws', braking for possums on pitch-black winding country roads. The house was deserted, everyone out for dinner. Five minutes after I went to bed I heard, clear as a bell just outside my door, my daughter's voice declaring "So CUTE!" Against a rumble of people settling in. I jumped up, opened the door, one. Totally empty.

Can longing, as well as fear, manifest as phantoms?