poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

June 13, 2008 The Academy Offices From the Academy Audio Archive

To the Reader

Jena Osman

There’s a voice in the room and what are you noticing. What are the sounds in the room. Is there a bell that says that the dinner is ready to be served. Is there a bird warming up outside that you are noticing. In what ways does that noticing mean anything good. Is this its own performance or part of something else. Are you listening to someone’s voice while reading this to yourself. Are you listening to the words that the voice sounds or simply to the sound. What kind of sound are you hearing beyond the voice that’s sounding. Do you hear the cars on the road. Do you hear the hum of the fan on the floor. Do you hear anything from the hallway or from the rooms next door. Do you hear the one voice whispering to the other. Do you hear the chairs scraping against the floor. Do you hear a door closing and a latch latching. Do you hear the sound of the breath of the person next to you. Are you noticing your own body as it sits in the chair that may or may not be comfortable. Do you find yourself slowing down, looking up, tracking back.

Are you following words that are sounded and trying to situate yourself in relation to them. Are the words the wallpaper that surround the true activity of someone sitting up straight in front of you and you admire that person’s coat or hairstyle or the meal that they have ordered. Do you feel that the words are about you simply because of a pronoun, or is empathy outside of grammar. Are there clues in a text like a hand intimately clasping. Is the skin there complete sensation. Are there two seeds from an orange on the table.

Does the butterfly serve as some kind of analogy, a quasi-splice for reeving new halyards. Are you noticing. Is this an easy space for capturing your attention. Or is the smoke beginning to get to you. Are you noticing a waver in the over of the edge. Are you noticing a cross-current in the waving having and the come on over here of the wave. Do you wish you had eaten a bit more before reading this. Which tree wavers under the weight of the bird. Did you drop this. Have you forgotten the beginning before my interruption. Does the first person pronoun jar unwelcome and unkind or does it reveal a body that is foreign and only good. Do you remember the aphetic elixir of the waver wavering wave. How straight is your spine. How sharp is your tongue. How is the shoulder, soldier.

Is it a large or small crowd. Would you use the word successful to describe a crowd or a poem. Are you sure you’re in the right location. Have the birds started to warm up yet. Are the lyrics to their songs like oo la la. Are you frapping for lashing drumheads and mousing hooks. Are you surging a line on a wince, then jamming a bight of the fall into the upper block. Could this be some kind of bid for a recently vacated cabinet position. Do you marry the two lines, laying them into each other. Are you the clove hitch, the slippery hitch, the stunner hitch, struggling with your own personalized orange revolution. Do you tie the shoe clerk’s knot, the bow tie, the mermaid’s braid, the bell knot. Have your fingers made even the slightest mark or indentation.

Copyright © 2008 by Jena Osman. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Copyright © 2008 by Jena Osman. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Jena Osman

by this poet

poem

Q. Why is not the air in CITIES so FRESH, as that in the COUNTRY?
A. Because it is impregnated with the breath of its numerous inhabitants…
—from Guide to Science, 1868 by Rev. Dr. Brewer

1a.

there will be three parts.
pay attention to your breath.