Everybody’s talking at me / I don’t hear a word they’re saying /
Only the echoes of my mind – Harry Nilsson


I’ve been paying more & more attention to all the voices
Inside my head – the Swedish chef Muppet; Faulkner reading

Short stories in 1958, pie-pen-dih-culah & plant-ay-shun;
A third grade girlfriend giggling upon breaking my playground

Heart; Hendrix mumbling to Dick Cavett; subway announcements;
The high-talking neck-wattled Wisconsin weatherman, mocking

Our rare snow days, his accent like a piece of dried cheddar
Stuck to the roof of the mouth; the greybearded deafmute

Scratching his balls & barking at the librarian for pen & paper –
Yuh yuh yuh! Yuh yuh! My Winston County snake-handling

Lingerie-wearing charismatic preacher cousin, denouncing
The moral decline of our god-spurning country; a football coach

Laughing & popping his dirty wet towel on the bare ass
Of my developing & fragile ego; Stephen Wright, Bill Hicks;

The back alley lisping hobo, scoring grass from college kids;
My creative writing teacher, a slash pine stump of a man,

Reading Ferlinghetti to a classroom cramped with crackers;
Jesus Christ, Jerry Seinfeld, blessed are the yada yada;

Grandmother reciting family names like Old Testament verse,
Otho, Barnabas, Zebulon, Clefus, her voice thin & reedy &

Hearkening Wednesday night prayer meetings, catfish suppers,
Hot summer afternoons shelling peas, hailstones on a tin roof.