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Tag Archives: sounds

found poem: everyone’s

found poem: sounds

found poem: July

autumn, ring

found poem: my phone

found poem: a wave

found poem: autumn

we heard…


rooflineTypical for its vintage but atypical for the neighborhood (and the climate), my house has a flat roof. For the passing gulls, crows, squirrels and cats, this presents an expansive parkland — a vantage, rest stop, conference center, dance floor.

From inside, I hear the crows and gulls arguing, the thud of their heavy, hopping bodies and the echo of small feet thumping across the roof. After dark, a cat launches itself onto the fence and from there onto the roof, then gallops the perimeter. In a mad-flung circuit from tree to tree, a squirrel makes a daring and speedy traverse of the roof edge.

A raucous squawking and hammering draws me into the covered patio, where a skylight is covered with a sheet of glass. A pair of frustrated crows peck madly at the glass to get a bug that flits safely on the other side. The crows are ruffled, persistent, dogged in their certainty that the next peck will deliver a morsel.

Last night, I awakened around 2 from a vivid and unremembered dream to the familiar thump of small feet above my head. A lot of feet. Rising more fully to consciousness, I realized it was not critters, but rain — huge, hard, widely-spaced drops hammering onto the roof in what might have been the sound of hundreds of scampering squirrels. The sound was so unusual, I had to get up and look out the window to make sure it wasn’t hail. But outside, the patio was freckled only with rain and the squirrels hunkered silent wherever it is they sleep.

Another fifteen minutes of intermittent rain punctuated by lightning and thunder from a not-very-close electrical storm (the second in a week) and I too was hunkered back into silent sleep.

sounds of childhood…

K card by j.i. kleinbergIn the evening, we might hear the garage door creak open or thump closed, but usually it was my father’s whistle — low-high-low — that announced his return as he walked up the sloped driveway along the side of the house. Sometimes he’d add a few extra notes to make a little song of it; more often just those three notes marking a change in the day — my mother drying her hands and walking to the front door to greet him with a kiss, I, coming along the hallway from my room for a hug.

Then the pieces of the evening would tumble into place: his nap, our dinner, cleaning up, retreating to our separate work — woodcarving, reading, homework — then bed. And after the settling creaks of the floorboards, the next thing I’d hear would be my father’s voice, calling softly at my bedroom door to wake me up, his made-up sing-song names — Toodle-Poodle, Schnutzi-Putzi — crooned into the dark until I spoke a word or two to let him know I was awake.

…Those sounds bookending our days, morning and evening, year after year.

night sounds…

The trains are busy at night. Lying in bed, I can feel their vibrating rumble, their night poetry, even all these blocks away. Their warning horns blow a solo into the darkness, some hoarse and rude, heavy-handed, some lyrical. One, I discover, is Q, the Morse code dah dah dit dah audible from one end of the bay to the other. Q, it says, I’m the Q train. Coal train, quatrain, Coltrane, Q train…

across the street…

newspaper deliveredI’ve stepped outside to fetch the newspaper in the first gray light of chilly pre-dawn. Across the street, a runner and a dog. The dog is very small, maybe a chihuahua, with perky ears and long white hair and legs that move so fast they’re a blur. The person, slender and fit and moving at a good clip, is dressed in a dark jogging suit and a white knit cap.

In this light, it’s impossible to tell from appearance or footfall or gait whether it is a woman or a man. Either way, the runner makes a quite-audible plastic swishing/squishing sound, as if, under the jogging suit, s/he is swaddled in dry cleaner bags.

I pick up the paper and slip quietly back inside.
photo by =Tom= on flickr

fragments…Kendra ~ 2

Kendra stirred, not yet awake, rude chirps bruising her sleep. Her wakenings were often accompanied by birds, the sparrows and starlings chattering in the large oak that shaded her bedroom window.

But this was not the friendly gossip of birds. Her ears now alert, she opened one eye. 3 a.m. Footsteps pounded across the bedroom floor in the apartment upstairs. The chirping stopped. The phone. The family calling from the old country. Loud conversation in non-English cadences.

She knew so little of these people, her neighbors, Hamill sinewy and intense, Lila still afraid, shy about her English. Kendra had heard talk of disappearings and escape, Lila huge with the twins. But they had never shared a cup of tea, or a conversation on the bench by the playground. Only occasional hellos and smiles by the mailboxes or on the sidewalk.

To Kendra they were an unfinished concerto: Hamill’s heel-heavy steps and rumbling baritone, Lila’s afternoon weeping and sweet soprano calls to the children, the muted timpani of the boys scampering, running, jumping. Scrapings of chairs on linoleum, flushings of water through the pipes. And sometimes, in the quiet of the evening, the soft resonance of their voices joined in prayer, and once, the apartment a cacophony of footsteps, in rising and mournful harmony, a song.

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