Oct. 28, 2008


by Christine Rhein

I try to tune out the boom! boom! boom!
  from the shooting range two miles from my house,
    and think of the people who live next door

to the targets, or in the din of London and Berlin
  where nightingales now sing fourteen decibels louder
    to be heard by mates, quintupling the pressure

in their lungs. I've never heard a nightingale,
  but I know noise came from nausea, and bulls-
names the goal for some blurry desire.

Bullseye is a band in Norway playing gung-ho rock and roll,
  like the kid down the street whose car speakers rumble
    through his closed windows and mine,

drums pummeling our insides. If I told him I once hiked
  among redwoods, heard ghostly calls in the stillness,
    branches somewhere in the canopy sky

moaning as they swayed, would he say Cool
  or Whatever, the way my sons have mumbled it,
    intending that I shouldn't—or maybe should—hear,

all talk target practice, ricochet and sashay, headache
  and heartache, duck and cover. In a fable, Lion realizes
    too late his vulnerability, the tunnel of his ear,

tiny Mosquito zooming in. Out beyond Pluto, Voyager's
  golden disc offers mud pots, thunder, footsteps,
    a Brandenburg Concerto and Johnny B. Goode.

Was the very first song a hum or a shout, laughter
  or weeping? When my friend, at forty, praised
    her cochlear implants, she complained about work,

the ringing office phones—How do people concentrate?
  I consider her vacations—wind surfing, rock climbing,
    marathons—how different now that she hears

each splash and scrape, the huh of heavy exhalation.
  I wish I could adorn my ears the way warriors in India did,
    with metallic green beetle wings, an iridescent

clacking and tinkling at the Feast of Courage. Imagine
  if we could hear bread rising, dew forming, the budding
    of raspberries, the tear of a cocoon, a minnow's pulse,

our own cells growing, dying. When my husband
  kisses my ear, I love the swoosh, the quiver, his breath
    sand driven by wind, my whispered name.

"Tuning" by Christine Rhein from Wild Flight. © Texas Tech University Press, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It was on this day in 1636 that Harvard University was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just 16 years after the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth.

It's the birthday of the poet John Hollander, (books by this author) born in New York City in 1929. His newest book, A Draft of Light, was published this year (2008).

John Hollander said, "I want my poems to be wiser than I am, to know more about themselves than I do."

It's the birthday of Evelyn Waugh, (books by this author) born in London, England, in 1903. He's the author of Brideshead Revisited (1945) and Decline and Fall (1928).

It's the birthday of the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, born in 1955 in Seattle, Washington. When he was in 8th grade, the Lakeside Mothers Club had a rummage sale and used the money to buy computer equipment for the school. Gates and his friend Paul Allen got completely swept up in the excitement of this new technology. They rummaged through dumpsters at the nearby Computer Center Corporation to find notes written by programmers, and with that information, they wrote a 300-page manual. He and Paul Allen moved to Albuquerque and started Microsoft in 1975.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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