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Monday, December 8, 2014

Voice III

The Cry Bone's Connected to the Why Bone                       Jenny Browne
Cold front blasts a train through
the bedroom, one long roar
above late talk of distant war.

Numbers and names I don't recognize
climb, drift, pile higher.
There are exactly twenty-seven

bones beneath the skin of a hand.
There are not as many words
for snow as I was once told.

It's almost morning.
If you're not with us, you're dew.
If you're dew, you disappear.

If you're me this week you see
a baby learn she has hands,
the bilateral little declaration

of a common axis, grip and find.
Put your hand in the air if you've heard
the one about the hokey pokey man.

He may die but you can't bury him.
And if the whole self was never in?
Keep moving        keep moving

towards a voice you still recognize.
If you're not with us, you're a fist
and if you're a fist, you can't reach

that collection of wishbones
rattling on
the quietest shelf in the room. 


The Wounded Angel, 1903                   Amanda Auchter
     after Hugo Simberg

                             Walk the treeline, higher
than before, where the frost covers each rootbed. Dig
         for the rotten fruit, lay it in your hand. Touch
         the red berried hips of the branch's cradle. Dusk,
and the sky irons. Listen: a bird-stir and the build
of God in your breath. In the garden,
         the wind knocks you into blind
slumber. Each torn wing folds into
                             the arms that rescue it. Two children
wait for the earth to grow
         back into you, bring your sorrows
                                                    to the shore. There,
they reed-wash your halo, tie onion blooms
to your wrist. There is nothing they miss—
how the current moves through you,
                      sweeps mud into your throat, brightens
each bruised eye. Look away from this, your river-

         locked voice, the threat of the far bank.

 The criticism, no matter how virulent, has long since ceased to bother me, but the price of this is that the praise is equally meaningless. The positive and the negative are not so much self-cancelling as drowned out by that carping, hectoring internal voice that goads me on and slaps me down all day every day.  ~Will Self


The Shout                               Simon Armitage

We went out
into the school yard together, me and the boy
whose name and face

I don't remember. We were testing the range
of the human voice:
he had to shout for all he was worth,

I had to raise an arm
from across the divide to signal back
that the sound had carried.

He called from over the park — I lifted an arm.
Out of bounds,
he yelled from the end of the road,

from the foot of the hill,
from beyond the look-out post of Fretwell's Farm —
I lifted an arm.

He left town, went on to be twenty years dead
with a gunshot hole
in the roof of his mouth, in Western Australia.

Boy with the name and face I don't remember,
you can stop shouting now, I can still hear you.


Already the Heart                        A. V. Christie

The spinal cord blossoms
like bright, bruised magnolia
into the brainstem.
         And already the heart
in its depth — who could assail it?
Bathed in my voice, all branching
and dreaming. The flowering
and fading — said the poet —
come to us both at once.
Here is your best self,
and the least, two sparrows
alight in the one tree
of your body.


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