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FURTHER READING
Poems by Paul Hoover
Edge and Fold, sections 15-49
Don't Kill Yourself
Driver's Song
Poems We Can Understand
Poems About Silence
A Silence
by Amy Clampitt
Bone & Silence
by Gerald Fleming
Ghazal: In Silence
by Mimi Khalvati
Silence
by Marianne Moore
Silence
by Thomas Hood
Sonnet—Silence
by Edgar Allan Poe
The Silence
by Philip Schultz
What are the consequences of silence?
by Bhanu Kapil Rider
Poems about Voice
Coming and Going
by Tony Hoagland
Hearing your words and not a word among them (Sonnet XXXVI)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
If My Voice Is Not Reaching You
by Afzal Ahmed Syed
If the ocean had a mouth
by Marie-Elizabeth Mali
Lift Every Voice and Sing
by James Weldon Johnson
Meeting at Night
by Robert Browning
Mrs. Cavendish and the Dancer
by Stephen Dunn
On Silence
by R. Zamora Linmark
Prayer from a Mouse
by Sarah Messer
Silences
by John Montague
Speedway
by Cedar Sigo
The Keeper's Voice
by Mike Carson
The Little Mute Boy
by Federico García Lorca
The Man Whose Voice Has Been Taken From His Throat
by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Voice
by Thomas Hardy
Time
by Chris Martin
Voices
by Sharon Olds
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Why is Quiet "Kept"?

 
by Paul Hoover

They are crying out in restaurants,
so delighted to be speaking,
they appear to be insane.

But we are the silent types, 
who hold speech within 
like the rustle of gold foil.

We eat our words and swallow hard.
There’s nothing much to say.
The knot’s in its nest, breathing.
A hand thinks it’s a bird.

The world “nows”; it doesn’t know.
The world “wows.” Then it snows.

A word arrives, silent and upright.
It stands in profile against a white wall.
It’s here for safekeeping only.

Keep quiet, mice.
A cat’s patrolling the area, 
with drones and more drones.

The keys we carry unlock us every day
and lock us up again.  Hushed is the ward.
Now conjugate, please, to werd and to werld.

One of us has just conceived 
the sum for infinity:  plus one, plus one, plus one.
In the cosmological phone booth,
there’s always one more.

The fishing report’s too thick to read, 
but its cadence is that of a god.
Waves and ships are passing.
We can barely discern the semaphores
flashing through the fog.

And here are the ones who walk the walk and talk the talk,  
blackening the day with news, with news.
About this poem:
"The poem 'Why is Quiet 'Kept'?' began with its title, which I had written in my notebook in response to another entry: 'The mystic has wisdom but is too wise to express it. Therefore, he or she keeps quiet.' I find it interesting that poetry achieves its famous silence despite the social bustle of words."

—Paul Hoover






Copyright © 2014 by Paul Hoover. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 17, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
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