At the Lakeshore

Thoreau spoke of a quiet desperation:
a sad affliction borne by other men,
whose lives are filled up, not so much with silence
but with a never-ending dulling din,

the calling card of progress and its engines,
whose pulse and throb churn on into the night
and rob the world of any moment’s stillness.
With engineering, we would prove it right

that idle hands seek evil, free from working;
that contemplation breeds unrest and doubt;
that in a second’s peace, there is a lurking
malaise so foul that noise must drive it out.

What genius, to encourage entertainments
that thrive on a cacophony of sound
and into pensive hours, inject such vigor
that even philosophic minds are bound

to see in growing deafness, evolution;
amidst the constant murmur of machines
to hear a mantra granting absolution;
and find in silence only the obscene.

As if truth is transmitted by loudspeaker
not needing other volumes first turned down,
instead of lapping, quiet at the shoreline
where we must either learn to swim, or drown.

Lake Catherine, Arkansas
29 OCT 2006

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