Mornings, early, others make themselves
at differing levels heard and even felt,
at least, if you can guess the gist
of another life from sound alone.
Like the enviable neighbor couple
Who shift and stir less than an arm’s length
behind the headboard, their murmurs
sifting into consciousness
as though no sheetrock intervened.
It’s the sonic ambient for one last
underwater, shut-eye scenario,
which holds until the alarm starts prodding.
Downstairs, would that be a he or she
who in chilled gloom grinds french roast
for the day’s first espresso?
And not just once but vibrantly again
after what must be a caffeinated interval.
Alertness has its downside, though,
delivering this thought: the practice
of selfhood turns into addiction.
Heavy boots not muted by rugs clunk
about on the floor above. Months
of obstinate slogging guarantee
their pace would instantly anywhere
be recognized, if not the pacer.
Odd moments in the day he launches
his campaign with a ruckus that feels
coercive, sure, but on behalf of what?
No choice but to tune in when an amped-up
boom of heavy metal from across
the landing detonates after nightfall,
puffs of cover-up sandalwood incense
stealing in under the door. Nirvana:
who knew that howls would signal its arrival?
Hi’s or goodbye-I-love-you’s ring out
every time a door opens, then slams,
but the cocked ear can’t detect either
sequels or concluding flourishes.
Our hive’s improvisations amount
to a sound-track, hum and buzz
emerging from angular cells
hospitable to the general detachment.
Or think of it as a single body, limbs
and nerves sending bulletins
to the brain bent over its clipboard.
Overloaded, dutiful, the thing wonders
what to do with this daily repeated
and recklessly partial information.
poem by Alfred Corn; published online with permission of the author; copyright 2013.