Recently I realized all the words I spoke
that bounced off other people’s ears,
rebounded back upon my shoulders
and that weight adds pounds to my frame,
which slows me down as I walk from here to there
and threatens the collapse of my bones
if this phenomenon goes on for an appreciable time.

I started speaking to people
only through my smart phone
confident it would buffer any rebounding words.
Instead of weight, an electric current
began to tickle me and itch
and I felt compelled to look up the word tased
to learn if it was spelled with an S or a Z.

I became speechless. Intentionally.

It is odd how the weight of unheard words
falls back upon your own shoulders and remains there
even when you are asleep, prone, horizontal,
instead of falling off into the sheets
to be washed down the drain on the next laundry day.

The more this phenomenon affected me,
the more I saw how it affected others as well.
Our politicians suffer a vertical compression
equal to Wile E. Coyote under a sky-fall anvil.
Our preachers stand only two or three inches tall.
Our teachers look squeezed
like a single atom black hole formed inside them.

I decided to practice listening,
so more words went into my ears,
instead of rebounding
onto the speaker’s body.
As my practice improved my skill,
the words stacked upon my shoulders
sloughed off in direct proportion
to the words I fully heard.

copyright © 2019 Kenneth P. Gurney


Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you.