Sweet Tweets

Breathing Space: ruminations on veiling and unveiling the rent –

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings
to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds.

– Percy Bysshe Shelley

Inside Voices – listening intently, I hear purring: the refrigerator swoons. The heater wheezes – forced air’s labored breathing. My computer hums a white noise cover song over the soft, constant drone of its hard drive. Surrounded with so much comfort, you’d think I’d be inspired, but the presence of all these “soothing” sounds lulls me into uproar.

Sensory Register – in order to take in stimuli and effectively process it, a calm environment is necessary. Lured into complacency, my “central processing unit” gets all snuggly, and near torpidity I find myself uneasy in “paradise.” I feel a hyper need to “rage against the machine,” rather than just sit here and be quiet. Too much stimuli, and “ooops!” (there goes the neighborhood) I feel restless, anxious, and eventually, depressed.

Groundhog Day – does this scenario sound familiar? How easily bored we get with our sped-up lives. We have become a society that has moved indoors, which cuts us off from the natural world (and ewww! don’t bring that in here). Simultaneously, we’ve learned to occupy ourselves more and more with “communication” technology – the more we devote our attention to our technological devices, the more we actually cut ourselves off from the sensory perception of our immediate surroundings. Think, for example, of all of the accidents caused by distracted driving, (or, for that matter, distracted walking) due to the “advances” in technology which allow us to motor on while texting, receiving a wireless signal, or listening to music within an insulated buffer zone in the privacy of our own ear buds. And how about all those unsettling cell phone conversations we’re inadvertently held hostage to in public spaces? Ironically, it seems all of our newfangled “communication” gizmos cut us off from having to deal with the discomfort of direct, visceral communication with one another.

I’m talking about in your face, one-on-one communication:

conversation – carried on within eavesdropping distance, quartered tightly, in close enough proximity to another person to inhale and smell his/her character. Yes, dialogue – that messy, but necessary (sometimes awkward) method of getting to know one another better: an antiquated, time consuming, “low tech” solution to a lot of what ails us and our world today. The only problem with conversation is that it requires listening before speaking, hearing the other person correctly, (without reading too much in to what’s been said) and processing a message completely before formulating and offering a thoughtfully crafted response. (Ewwww!)

Chinese New Year – 2011 ushers in a lunar New Year of the Rabbit, a lucky sign that focuses our attention on diplomacy and introspection. The Year of the Rabbit is the calm after a Tiger year’s storm, a good time for dialogue to take place. Often, a good way to start a dialogue is by sharing some tidbit from the news that we might have both witnessed. This gesture directs our attention to the things or ideas we share, rather than stressing our differences.

In stressing the things we have in common, I find the idea of poems being “one inside talking to another” via the medium of sound (to quote Donald Hall) another appealing way to “break the ice” or start up a conversation. I guess it’s one of the reasons I write: to instigate a dialogue, strike up a conversation, give us (communicants) a precipice from which to jump into the “air” that surrounds us. Poems are not just a matter of the words that we use, or the “spin” we give any particular subject or situation. Poems are also about making things from sound.

Old-Fashioned Love Songs – in order to collect sounds, I can sit in front of my computer screen and listen to the buzz my speakers make (or for that matter, the myriad of electronically generated sounds all around us at any given moment).  Even in outdoor, public spaces we may find ourselves conversant with all sorts of technologically driven babble. Or, taking a cue from Eric Clapton’s gesture toward acoustic (rather than “amplified”) sound, I can unplug, boldly go where few before have dared, and be opened!

One morning, recently, I decided to do just that.  After I’ve detached myself from all of my “umbilical cords” — my phone, computer, and tv screens —  I venture out. The desert, I discover, teems with sound, especially early in the morning. The air bristles with songs waving “over the wire.” I overhear conversations that absolutely chatter, “Alive!”

Conversation Hearts

Conversation Hearts

Free DownloadHamlet’s Blackberry in hand, I listen (in the manner of so many poets before me) to nature’s “twitter feed.” The “file space” of my central processing unit begins to decompress. Relaxed, with a different set of sounds on record, I start making sense of my surroundings: organizing sounds in time – a matter of breathing space. Defragmenting my “hard drive” gives me the down-time (i.e. introspection) required to hear “conversation hearts” – inspired lines from which to leap into a fresh (perhaps even startling) inquiry.

Valentine’s Daywhile we’re speaking of conversation starters, I offer up the resulting Valentine. There wasn’t enough room to inscribe it on an elfin, heart-shaped confection, so I’ve engraved it here, on this space, instead:

Twitter Feed

"Twitter Feed" (2011). Anne Yale. Brushed Air.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Sweet! What great connections! I absolutely love Borges’ poem at the end of hirsch’s essay; and don bogen’s “among appliances” is telling and so rich! What tweet confections.


  2. Posted by clint on February 14, 2011 at 10:01 am

    great post, anne! loved the poem!
    i just read a little essay by ed hirsch about nightingales in poetry: http://ow.ly/3Wb1v

    and the Inside Voices reminded me of this, http://ow.ly/3Waso (scroll down to the poem on page 28).

    also, tony bennet released a sweet unplugged album with mtv in ’95,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: