Sound Traveler

May 10, 2014

You listen harder at night—
your veins squeeze,
together—
the nameless neighbor,
the police car/fire truck/ ambulance sirens
as they cross on to the FDR Drive,
the lonesome/ frightened barking dog
the groan all buildings make when they breathe.
You listen to the voices talking to you—
though they don’t know your name as yet
or the sound of fog your breath makes
against the mirror glass—
so much like blood as it hits the porcelain floor.
You listen to the sounds your ears must make
as they shear off the words, themselves the kin to words—
by being there, so to speak, to listen.

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5 Responses to “Sound Traveler”

  1. John Stevens Says:

    Interesting that you posted them in that order and not in the sequence of writing them.
    I wonder what the result would be if you worked up a third version, further away from the raw subconscious – more ‘cooked’.

  2. extrasimile Says:

    Hi guys. I’m thinking these two poems are my ‘the raw and the cooked’ experiment Sound Traveler being the raw, The Sleepers…well, you know…
    Sound Traveler is pretty much The Sleepers first draft. I liked it as is. ‘The coherence of the mind’ and all that. Either you hit it or you don’t—sort of like the painting [coloring?] that I’ve been doing.
    To get to The Sleepers I followed my usual practice of working it to—well, not to death but…let’s say to ‘completion’. When does a poem end anyway?
    The two poems derive from the same situation./ mental state/ experience but ended up as two very different poems—or did they? John, your perception that they both come from the subconscious is perceptive indeed—but I had to put the sub-consciousness back into The Sleepers, where as it never left Sound Traveler. Isamu Noguchi’s thoughts on his sculpture might be useful here: I left [ I paraphrase] the wildness I found in the stone—and simply added some of my own wildness.
    Likewise Anna: that they are both unsettling is interesting to hear; I think it’s fair to say they are both about being unsettled. The subconscious becoming conscious is unsettling—is my conscious mind really that fragile? We don’t really need too debate this, do we? The social definition of madness verses the biological one is fascinating, but….’Lear must not be mad’ still sums up most of humanity’s situation, yes?
    And Tom: yes ‘pushing’ and ‘pulling’ you is much different [and much better] than saying it simply ‘moved’ you. This also might account for that unsettled feeling. And you know, I hadn’t quite realized I’d given the poem ears. It’ll be wanting fur and teeth next. ‘The better to eat you with, my dear.’

  3. Tom D'Evelyn Says:

    Lovely lyric pushing me pulling me … What I like most when I get there is the unidentical return to the listening now as being heard by the poem and by us. Both Anna and John register surprise. Me too. Good paradoxes retain value of shock.

  4. John Stevens Says:

    Anna puts it well: the two poems are indeed unsettling. They have a dream-like quality as though they have come largely untamed from the subconscious. “You listen harder at night” – yes, that’s true, in several ways. That’s a very magnetic opening line Jim – and I thought the previous poem closed with a similarly resounding line. Two resounding poems.

  5. Anna Mark Says:

    (I don’t like being the first to comment here…) It’s been a while since you’ve written. Both poems are very unsettling. Caterpillars creeping all over the dreamers, demanding their rights…and the silent knowing that I have of their wings. And this poem for the fog that is like blood, but what being has foggy blood? blood like fog? a ghost? And if those ears are listening…why don’t the voices that talk to you know your name? unless you’re listening without them knowing it, and so you are, sort of, like an unnamed, ghostly presence. And I like the idea of ears being kin to words, but almost by accident, not by choice, but because it is their function, duty. And how do ears shear off words? I’m listening, too.


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