Spoken Word


I open my mouth and speak

and it means something.

but someone is watching my mouth

ears moving up and down

vigilant, a large grey wolf.

A breath of wind

stirs his ears

like the plucking of strings,

a musical sense

sets his ears moving.

Moving left, moving right

a playful fan



So I open my mouth to speak

– and close it

– and open it again.

My tonsils shift, my uvula shakes –

a shame nobody understands

I don’t understand myself.

Sometimes I actually sing

a burbling kind of song,

sometimes with a melody

like a popular tune on the radio,

but sometimes tuneless

like a wailing ghost. 

Nobody hears me sing.

Understanding isn’t what I mean

so I sing secretly,

sing when no one is there

on moonless nights, to empty streets

I sing, and if someone comes by

I stop.


Even a cough has meaning

issued from the mouth –

the loud hack of an old man

the thin yelp of a puppy.


So, speaking, I say,

I cough once to show I’m in earnest.

But the thing about speaking,

there is this problem with it,

which is, in fact, the speaking –

it’s the speaking aloud.


His eyes flickering dimly

the grey wolf slinks away,

his ears upright now

unmoving, his receding back

monumental as if carved from stone,

his pointed ears sharp against the sky.


I don’t make a sound

not a breath, silent,

looking left, looking right.

I try a small gulp –

no response – no one speaks to me.

Fine, I will sing then.

I won’t say a word.



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