Volume 68, Number 2 · Spring 2019

poems from crosspost(s)

Whether you want to admit it or not, everything has a sound. Everything vibrates. Look at that yellow teapot. It’s so alive with possibility you can barely remember its name. You may even feel like you have traveled to this point cupped within a trough of ambient noise, trembling in a modality that has yet to be explained. That’s not uncommon for a listener like you.

We’ve discovered some comical overlap between what our newsletter will report and what really happened earlier today, and then there’s like this whole other story completely. It’s as if the closer you listen, the laws of acoustics don’t even apply: melodies emerge out of unknown corners; harmonies oscillate between never-before-heard registers; and songs you knew as a child, and then forgot because of their platitudes, take on a new kind of significance. You’ve tried so hard to complicate this idea you have about yourself. It’s okay to admit sometimes that you’ve been lying this whole time.

Before we get into why this isn’t your favorite song, we need to ask you a few questions to help us focus our content. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers:

1. Are you always the first person to answer a ringing telephone?
2. True or False: The world is a compassionate place.
3. Are you rational during your leisure time?
4. Do you like to isolate yourself from outside noises?
5. Please complete this line of poetry: Beer before liquor, never been sicker;/ liquor before beer, ___________.”
6. Do you often ponder humankind and its destiny?
7. Do you feel like there’s a tight rubber strap around your head?
8. True or False: Clydesdales are erotic.

  —after Jon Anderson
Do you remember the first time you heard this song? We do. You were driving a Mazda 323 through a cemetery screaming, “The dead have no rights! The dead have no rights!” as you bounced over the graves. Your passengers—several of them stuffed into the shitty little hatchback—were both terrified and amused. You recall it differently, though, don’t you? You’ve never even heard this song before. Another song has taken its place: an oratorio by some seventeenth-century Italian librettist nobody’s ever heard of, and you were driving so slowly through an Iowa cornfield that stalks folded under your front bumper without snapping. There was nobody in the car but you.

Remember when you tried to explain that vision you had— something like an ocean above another ocean, under which a multi-tailed, snake-like creature was having a dream about another snake or worm in yet another body of water—and then later inside the Gravitron 2000, the world turned into a disco ball with many faces, all of them blinking in and out of existence like flowering universes? We think there might be something to that.

We’re running a thought experiment right now where we imagine that all our listeners are dead. So far, our team seems distracted. Marge is on vacation and no one has heard from Yazu since the last collective imagining.

Michael Brooks Cryer teaches writing at Arizona State University. His poems and reviews appear in Quarterly West, Ecotone, DIAGRAM, Hayden's Ferry Review, the Cortland Review, and other journals. He is also an occasional freelance music critic for Phoenix New Times. Four Chambers Press released his chapbook, Channels, Frequencies & Sequences, in the summer of 2017. Cryer’s poetry collection, Selected Proverbs, won the 2016 Elixir Press Antivenom Poetry Award.