- for a would-be suicide


You only think it silence---
this sound that breaks upon
your ear, spoiled of all speech---
because habituation deafens us
to what is said most clearly.
But then you always liked
a gentle syncopation,
varied enough to stir delight
though not so much as to startle.
(I think there was some scorn
that split our conversation, when---
with gleeful innocence---I deigned
to name my music 'animal'.)

Four days you prayed, and still
the order is not clear?
I beg you, Joe, retain your seat---
at least until the next movement. 
If you really want to trace 
the score, you'll have to let
the Author's arrangement stand.

I do not ask for quietude
which is only idleness deified.
But if you would taste the truth,
do not ask for meaning.
Rather, fasten on the beat
and with it rise and fall
until you be at one
with what is being played.
Then filled with overflowing tones,
you may find your own thoughts
only static after all
and come to recognize the way
a wordless song alone makes sense..

                                                                     -- Mahlon H. Smith 

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* Note: This poem is a revised edition
of an entry in the author's journal 
dated 14 January 1967
and is published here for the first time.

Collected Poems
Mahlon H Smith

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