Posts Tagged ‘voice’

Today I Realize

I can still call your phone
and hear your voice mail.
And so I do, I call it,
and the low tones
of your familiar voice
reach all the way in
and squeeze my lungs.
This is you know who.
We are you know where.
Leave your you know what
you know when.
I hang up at the beep,
and then I’m gasping,
choking, making sounds
I don’t recognize.
And then the house is quiet.
The ache is like a time lapse
of a rose in bloom—
first clenched, then
opening and opening
and impossibly opening,
then fading, then dropping away.
Every day a new bouquet
of ways I miss you.
Today, I miss the deep
song of your voice
how it opens in me
fragrant, like home.


this poem has been published in ONE ART

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It was this day, eight-nine years ago,

that Otto Frederick Rohwedder,

a jeweler from Davenport, Iowa,

got to see his invention in action—

yes, in Chillicothe, Missouri, a baker

used the bread slicer. Everyone said

it wouldn’t sell. Everyone said

the bread would go stale. Everyone

said the idea would fail. It’s compelling,

sometimes, what everyone says.

But sometimes, perhaps like Otto,

I hear the voice beneath the others.

It tells me to believe in improbable things.

Like poems changing the world.

Like Keatsian love. Like the immeasurable

pleasure that comes when the lever

goes down and all through the kitchen

floats the warm and earthy scent of toast,

the morning improving two slices at a time.


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The sound of your breath is the quietest of songs.

—Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening



Maybe on that day

when we think, I forgot

to sing, that’s when we

realize that all day long

we harmonized with the world

in the quietest of songs—

joined in without any effort,

no striving at all,

and maybe that is the day

when we stop trying

to be heard and start

to notice the song

inside every other song,

the song inside every other being,

how perfectly in tune we are,

how easily we join—no conductor,

no notes, no beat, just one perfect

air. Maybe that’s the day we hear

the metronome of our own

steady heart and say to it,

I will trust you, feel the truth

of the song as it slips

from our lips, then

rushes in to fill us again.

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I teach my sighs to lengthen into songs.

—Theodore Roethke



There is a secret music

that fills us from within,

a clear song that rises

as the mud of our thoughts

settles out, how quietly

it arrives at first,

our own true voice.


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Who said your real voice is not the choir?

—Steven Nightingale, “Who Said, Who Decided, Who”



and if you are not only the melody

but also the baseline, the harmony,

the descant, then who’s to say

you’re not also the quarter rest,

the fermata, the coda, the clef—

and perhaps you are also

the hand that wrote the score

and the woman who loved

to take that hand in her own

and wander the halls toward bed.

And perhaps you are also the rumpled

sheets, the ones that never made

it to the choir, the sheets that fell

to the floor while the notes

made their way uncomposed

into throats of the singers,

the air full of such improvisational grace

you’d swear the angel choirs

were singing, too.

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One Unlearning




peeling away the film—

discovering how to sing

in a voice I can’t call my own

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Here, voice, speak
for my thighs.
Speak for my fists.
Speak for all the places
I try to hide. Speak
in cobweb. Speak in rust.
Speak in siren. Speak
in fog. Speak ugly.
Speak rancid. Speak
lost. Speak sour. Speak
stammer. Speak red dress.
Speak busy signal. Speak
fool. Here, voice, take
your slippers off. Take
your apron off. Take off
your corset. Remove
your belt. Consider me
your vessel. Use me up.
Speak it all.

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I wish you were writing this poem
about those two days you hid in the woods,
partially scalped, your legs broken, your two kids
with you, hiding from the man who promised
to kill you when he came home.

I wish you were writing this poem
about the places you go in your mind
when the men mount you and start
their furious pumping.

I wish you were writing this poem
about the day you knew for sure
that you were not beautiful.

I wish you were writing this poem
about the look on your child’s face
the moment you slapped her
for calling you Bitch. And another
poem about the moment after.

I wish you were writing this poem
to the woman who slept with your husband,
asking her everything you know
you will never understand.

I wish you were writing this poem
about the way the light hit the empty room
just after you packed all your things to leave,
and how in that light for a moment
you thought you could stay,
loving in that moment the room, the potential,
and still you knew you would go.

It would not comfort you, this poem
that you are not writing, would not make
one thing better. Would not fix, not heal,
not redeem nor transform.

But something would happen,
something unnamable and mysterious—
and from that broken, torn,
shredded place, you might create,
surprising yourself, a little more space.

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one of those days tanka

forgive me
for not hearing today
beneath the wailing
the boy who just wants
so desperately to be heard

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