I find myself each evening, while commuting on the 101, or when the blue barns and silos within shut down and darkness lifts me to sleep, repeating commonplace words I had heard earlier that day, or entire phrases from conversations I had with acquaintances. And I twist my breath over a syllable or sentence like a fin slicing water toward trawled dolphin, or the dregs of a bog dripping from the faucet in a marble bathroom. While driving home, I sweat from netting in an innuendo uttered that morning from parking-attendant or tourist, a code which, after originally sinking in the swamp of consciousness, has surfaced, its skin brackish and green. Later, I sit up in bed, water-bucketed awake with the chill that I had not listened to someone’s plea, that there is a fire-alarm in everyone’s voice, that the foundations are buckling, and though the sidewalk is glazed with moonlight, the remaining deer are bucking up the hills; if I were to stop, I would smell these lands burning; if I were to drink, I would taste water heavy with smoke. The voices rise, converge within my stifling fields, until I fumble out of bed to pace my apartment and beg that they are only echoes and not the petitioners themselves, echoes that have inhabited me so that I might listen to their squabbles, their women giving birth, their cocktail parties, diners, their salesmen crying hysterically in motel rooms, the deafening hiss of prayers.
by Anthony Seidman
from Autumn Sky Poetry Number 8, December 2007
Photo by Christine Klocek-Lim