Tag Archives: deafness

Look Inward, Angel: common measure

“As any fool could plainly see,
and you can see it plainly,”
were words my father spoke to me
in jest, sometimes, but mainly

to illustrate a simple point:
that often, a solution
is right in front of us, and needs
from us no contribution.

Perhaps he oversimplified,
attempting to be witty;
but nonetheless, some grain of truth
can be found in this ditty.

We know the truth, what’s right and wrong;
there’s no need of a teacher.
To find the essence of this life
requires no saint or preacher.

The wise men all say look within;
and still, we focus outward.
Is it because we’re deaf, or stupid?
Maybe we’re just cowards.

02 MAY 2011

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Describing Sound to the Deaf

It is more than simply a vibration,
a finite number of beats across time
that enter the senses to resonate
and seek to move against the immobile;

there is a color and taste to it, too,
that fills the mouth with flavor and substance,
plays against the eye in patterns of light.
By turns, it is warm or cool to the touch,

and may fill the mind with joy or with dread.
It is alive, ever-changing, and moves
across great distances; as its echo
fades, it is absorbed in other new forms:

the whir of wings, the rustle of dry leaves,
the drip of a faucet, a tinkling laugh.

Drawing it in, we bring the world to us,
open, undisguised and without deceit –
where vision fails, in its grandiose quest
to reach out, conquer, and quickly discern

between the illusions it is offered,
the ear, with its passive, receptive scan
finds no separations, no division
between the self and the sacred other.

19 MAY 2003

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Songs for the Deaf

Heart strings be stilled, and bring on the noise
that dulls into senseless, hard men hopeful boys;
Just pound on the floor, if you must have a beat,
and perhaps you’ll vibrate the tips of your feet.

We must find other, quiet joys
To fill up the void where the Music once played,
for our audience fidgets and acts quite dismayed
if we take up their space with a moment in time
of anything that might be unique, or sublime,
suggesting the beauty arrayed
In a brief pause of breath, when the talking has ceased,
and like seeds from a flower, our thoughts are released
in the atmosphere, freed from these cages of sound
that we build to protect us from life, all around
(it seems like that to me, at least)
Yet praise of the average demeans genius in man;
we crave mediocre sounds, all we can stand
are the songs that we know, ones we all know by rote
so that even the tone-deaf can find all the notes,
and our Music sounds hollow and canned.
What good is it to sing out from deep in your soul,
if the listener’s ears are beyond your control?

If you must shake the walls, and the floors, and the chair,
soon there will be only a harsh rhythm there,
while the soft melodies that roll
Gently off the tongue, on the faintest of sighs
will be carried off; and then, we’ll all act surprised
when our lives have no meaning, and seem flat and dull,
empty of beauty, and no longer full
of anything apathy has not compromised.

21 FEB 2003

I seem to be fascinated, as of late, by the myth of Odysseus, particularly with his interaction (or adamant lack thereof) with the Sirens. In the book The Third Ear: On Listening to the World, one of the ideas put forward is that the Sirens, having no audience for their song, simply gave up singing (and since their singing was their purpose, they then retreated under their rocks and died). This is advanced as the plight of those who would appeal to the ear, a much more honest organ of interpretation than the eye. In our vision-based culture, where we seek to penetrate outward into the world, rather than listen, and bring the world into us, the hypertrophy of the sense of hearing in favor of seeing causes all sorts of maladjustments and (to use a vision-based word) misperceptions.

“I see,” said the blind;
“I hear,” said the deaf;
“You’re a liar,” said the dumb
— punchline from a joke my grandmother used to tell

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