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Page 232

Why is this? Because silence, blankness (when abhorred)
acts as a vacuum and tries to suck us inside out.
Because in the past, when we've been caught up in vacuums
(as when unconscious, a way to escape pain), the voices
of those surrounding us (panicked parents, blaming
each other, joking surgeons, curious classmates...)
rushed in to fill the void; one of many ways self
becomes infested with voices that go round and round,
applying themselves to everything and nothing,
emerging in vacuumous moments (those moments when,
like vacuum, you have two you's) – emerging to take over,
bringing with them old pain and an increasing sense
of emptiness, which stirs up yet more desperate voices
from deeper vacuums. We bring our own blanknesses along
when we face blankness, and our own past efforts
to fill in the blanks. This is our world, our light and shadow,
our textures, warmth, cold, colors, smells, tingles, pressures,
space, duration, form, heft, hardness – all ours.
But when we are supplanted by these voices not our own,
these usurpers, desperate solutions to ancient silences
that we clung to because just beyond those silences
(the unconsciousness that is our attempt to make time
hold still) we would be swept up in horrible motion,
confusion and pain – long vanished, but held in our mind
by our attempt to stop them by stopping time. The turmoil
keeps the silences adrift in time, always with us, along
with their sucked-in, borrowed voices (everything sticks
to pain-enforced silence), forever alive, all held
in endless suspension lest we slip back into too much motion,
too much pain, the sudden tree where highway should be...

The more we are supplanted, the less we, ourselves
can reach out to anything or anyone, the less we can have
a world in which to be; and the more we talk, the less
we are there, the more we are supplanted by increasingly
dire voices until we have nothing, almost nothing, are, perhaps,
not dead, but doing a good pretense of it in hopes
that all the voices will just go away.

(Vacuum has two you's. And weewee has two
we's [WHEE! Oui oui!] And, like most of us,
Hawaii has two I's. I was saying important things.
Why am I being silly? Just tuning up: me me me me...)

Note: That last stanza, say my critics, is a perfect example of what's wrong with Blehert's poems. Or maybe not. Maybe I thought, I've been talking a long time, and dire voices, however profound, are taking over, so nyah nyah nyah. Or maybe I was taken over briefly by the Marx Brothers or, worse, the Three Stooges. "Yes, but there's a time and a place for everything." I never agreed to that.

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