a wandering woman writes

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Poetry Thursday: a spoken poem

Poetry Thursday's prompt this week was "a poem read out loud". I find poetry much more powerful read aloud; I believe poetry is meant to be spoken. A truly elegant poem lets its shape on the page tell you something the words can't, (don't you think?), while gently handing you the sheet music - the line breaks, the rhythm, the musical counterpoint - that takes you through the poem just as the poet would have read it aloud. So much of poetry's power, for me, is its musicality, the way the words roll off my tongue, the sounds they make as they leave my mouth, the contortions the poet sends my tongue into.

My poem for this week has yet to find its elegance on the page, but it is a poem I love to say. I've posted it here once before, but I couldn't resist repeating it when the prompt started me reading aloud.

I picked up an Irish tin whistle one day last winter and set my overachieving musician self to playing it. Didn't work. But it did teach me just what I needed to learn that day. I tried my best to reproduce the (sometimes painful) aural event in words:



A tin whistle tries to teach me to live softly.


In.
I attack
Lips pursed
Arms taut
Eyes focused
Ambition engaged.
A reel walks across the page.

Out.
She fights
back, a sleek black
tunnel of iced
metal a shot-up
tube a hole ridden backpocket
pipe.

In, hard and fast

Out.
Screech!
The piercing shriek
of an orphaned tea
kettle the doubletoned hiss
of a referee’s
warning

STOP!
STOP! Something’s wrong.

I sigh, discouraged.

Whistle coos.

Down here
Under your breath
It’s a whisper
of acceptance
an end of day sigh
a puff
a baritone cloud
a soft ceili breeze

In.
Shhhh
sings her bass string purr

Softly.

Forget everything you’ve learned.
Breathe

Out.
And just stop trying.

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