Al Young title

NOW IN SILENCE, MUTE (‘Where I Write #26’ at The Rumpus)


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Ernest Lawson: “Spring Night, Harlem River” (1913)


Where I Write #26: ‘Now In Silence, Mute’


Now in silence, mute, a place still quiet

within reason, ear-protected, I hear

the flow and pump of blood. My loud

and your soft heart beat out as dance

stun and shush us where equipoise


and noise don’t mix. Unsteadying, a diet

of uninvited cell phone monologues, big

overseer helicopters, TV screech and

media preachments, ambulance, paramedic

rescue shrieks, the way too-trafficked


hum and squall and scream of barriers

that mask the sound of handcuff clicks.

Anointing to me, annoying to some, silence –

soundtrack to our native zone – serenades.

As every trembling star and particle feeds


on space, so every song and utterance

leans against silence: a resource so

unheard of, we can’t help but kill it. Dead.

The silence of a smug, unthinking nation

– that’s something else again. Citizen


as pathogen. I write through those ears,

too, from silence breathed as nourishment

that charges and changes. Consider the kiss

in which we find and switch each other on

– the silence I write from recharges this.

©2014 by Al Young
This poem, commissioned by poet-editor Corrie Greathouse, debuted at the online journal in celebration of the author’s 75th birthday



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