Tuesday, December 3, 2013

the receiving end of ... words?

music has always been a deep rooted part of me. this is no surprise if you're friends with me. but, surely you 500+ folks that visited the page over the last few days are strangers. hello, my name is erin and music is a part of my skeletal system. without it? i'd be a lifeless vessel of skin and blackening organs.

10 years ago i was lucky enough to befriend a local band to us here in Boston. The Receiving End of Sirens. heard of 'em? i hope so. they changed my life for the better. five of the most artistic and creative souls. funny, weird, and absolutely gross. they were five of my best friends, and still are. the band has changed lineups, sounds, states, continents, marital status, and have a gaggle of kids now. but, lawdy, ten years ago? they made me feel invincible, like we'd stay young and perfect forever. completely free of any responsibility and living my life on a state-to-state roadtrip basis, TREOS (for short) brought me a sense of mattering to someone. to five people at least.

the first frontman of the band was a kind, creative, funky fiesta of a soul with the most exquisite nose. i'm sorry, ben, but you do ... you have a great nose. ben collected energy on stage as much as he poured out to his devoted fans. he used to read poetry in between songs, and often invited members of the audience to join and read something. i remember reading once, shakin in my boots, but it meant something to me to get up there and have the words i wrote accepted with loud applause and pats on the back 'good job, great poem'. that night Ben's chosen piece was a poem that has STUCK to me like GLUE for the last 10 years. maybe it stuck with me because it was the night i got the nerve to put my writing out there, or probably it was just the severity of the poem and how beautiful it sounded coming from him, a creator of art himself.

he read a poem by artist Jeffrey McDaniel called The Quiet World. the poem features a dystopian vibe, a la George Orwell's 1984. a place where words are limited, to 167 words per day. the man in this short poem goes about his day dodging words and finding alternatives, all to afford the words at the end of the day for his lover. and when he reaches her on the other end of the phone, she is wordless. but, still, he uses his remaining words to tell her he loves her as much as he can. your heart ... did it just die a little? i know. mine too.

can we talk about this for a minute? a poem written in the 90's that will haunt me. yes, haunt me. words! how we take advantage of them! i've stated this before, in my first post. but my goodness how we do! i talk too much this is no secret. but imagining a world where i couldn't speak as freely or limitless as i do now? crikey. and then to save those limited words for your lover? it makes my stomach twist. i want a love like that! does such exist? i'm sure it does. but this poem is part of the reason you have to believe your person is out there. and for the love of crap ladies don't be as selfish as that broad and spare your lover some of those precious words!


so that was basically a long winded post just to lead up to the poem! here it is ...


The Quiet World

BY JEFFREY MCDANIEL
In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred   
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear   
without saying hello. In the restaurant   
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,   
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.   
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,   
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line   
and listen to each other breathe.
Jeffrey McDaniel, “The Quiet World” from The Forgiveness Parade. Copyright © 1998 by Jeffrey McDaniel.

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