Seen Not Heard


Seen Not Heard

Any strange voices who’d call her, she was quite sure,
would just dial Cherry 8
for she did not see herself
as a girl who heard voices,
even as she leaned the much-loved bio
against her plate (her fork in the road
an actual fork, her road, the re-read
even as she lived beneath their cover
in bed and bath,
felt a certain loyalty
to royalty (mispronunciation tending to imbue the Dauphin
with the sweetness of Flipper),
she knew that Joan’s was not
her path, her retinae too weighted
by suburban streets to glow
so gonzo–

Only knew that she craved a life
that moved in circle, shaped
a plot (narrative not
pit), tick audible,
where halos might be dialed down
to shackles, yet still keep
their shine,
where she would be
both onlooker
and star–mouthpiece and that dark bit
you held up to
your ear–
where others too
would surely be on the line–had to be, honestly,
to make the whole thing

it didn’t have to be Joan–
printed words coiling connection
to Jo March too, and sickly Beth,
Abe Lincoln, Scarlett, Juliette,
Madame Curie,
even Beethoven (who looked so sad in the pictures,


Very very very drafty poem for Shay’s prompt on rotary phones on Real Toads

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11 Comments on “Seen Not Heard”

  1. hedgewitch Says:

    A wonderful slew of girl’s reading references in this, and sense of being a girl, which is also sometimes being a bystander, the odd kind who reads her way into a life and has it always remain some part of her, even if it is only ‘that dark bit you hold up to your ear…” I love how you blended in the element of the old telephone with the other metaphors so smoothly.

  2. Ah.. what a talk that would be, but who else than Joan we might ask.. escaping into the past. The telephone comes lines comes in so smoothly tying it all together.

  3. Mama Zen Says:

    This speaks to me right down to the cellular level. Marvelous, K!

  4. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    There is a kind of universality here, perhaps in the mention of so many iconic and tragic heroines, perhaps because the readers may imagine themselves as the one described in the poem:

    where she would be
    both onlooker
    and star–mouthpiece and that dark bit
    you held up to
    your ear–

  5. gillena Says:

    Fact of the matter. Joan should have used a phone (smiles) for call backs

    Much love…

  6. “where halos might be dialed down
    to shackles, yet still keep
    their shine” Just one of many lines in this piece I love…Tragedy seems to have a universal connection

  7. Susan Says:

    Wow. I had to read this several times to remove my own associations and find the through-line before putting my associations back in. It’s the most worthwhile challenge and journey I’ve had in a long time! This line is where I stumbled, but it is now my favorite: “where halos might be dialed down
    to shackles, yet still keep
    their shine” Shackles. That’s so slavery to me that I forgot for a minute the lure of belonging that makes all sacrifice seem worthwhile and being center of focus a redemption–Joan, Beth, Madame Curie … to be part of that circle, characters who will never die even if they are real. It would be sad to be deaf and not have someone to turn you around so you could see the applause.

  8. I remained an observer throughout the whole poem and loved it all the more for it. Thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  9. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    I was that girl! (Except that I knew how to pronounce Dauphin – yet those are some of my favourite lines here).

  10. coalblack Says:

    Oh my gosh, I am stuck on the Flipper-y Dauphin! 😀

  11. M Says:

    where halos might be dialed down to shackles. fantastic line. also the one Shay notes. ~

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