Ear cage

Oh rare & wild ear, translate until bright
my rival making, my restlessness.
The river bears thousands of planets
& the church lifts an elliptical wine,
reminding us of lust on old records.
Up, bird! Bring pieces of ticking meat,
traumatic presents to fill with our losses.
Carry an uncanny whisk-broom,
utter sparse desires, jump.
Time extends beyond the ornate
lip & jar. One turns, wants, composes,
part human, part gyroscope,
raw twigs exposed together.
The ear spans ignored masters
& incorporates sheer guises of a cage.


For a Read Write Poem prompt, using the cut-up technique. I dug out a Copper Canyon Press catalog (Spring/Summer 2009) and took a few words from each of the book blurbs, none from the poems themselves. I used the list randomizer at Random.org to shuffle them into a new order, arranged them into lines of 4-6 words for easy viewing, and then did the bare minimum of rearranging, addition and subtraction necessary to make some kind of coherent sense out of the whole. What does the poem mean? Hell if I know. But there are a couple of phrases I might be able to use in more coherent contexts, I think.

13 Replies to “Ear cage”

  1. oh elliptical jar of ticking meat
    church lip, part planet, part cage
    ignored twig master, incorporate.
    (while you still can)

    1. This makes me think maybe I should’ve just posted the list of words and asked readers to see what they could do with it (before posting my own final version, “Earful”). Next time, that’s what I’ll do.

  2. I think the concept of an “ear cage” comes through for me, despite the randomness of the method and prompt, something that captures and limits the unfathomable and diverse in the world, that measures (love the line about the gyroscope) and deconstructs (dissects to understand) but then constructs from the materials (composes).

    1. Thanks. Yeah, that’s basically what I was getting at; glad it came through. Hearing is such a neglected sense — i mean, I realize primates are exceptionally visual, but still. I’ve been very influenced by Walter Ong’s phenomenological analysis in Orality and Literacy — have you read it? Wonderful study.

  3. What it means? It doesn’t need to mean – it expresses! Very nice.

    I especially liked:

    The river bears thousands of planets
    & the church lifts an elliptical wine,
    reminding us of lust on old records.

    Oooo, yeah!

    1. Thanks, Paul! As you may have gathered, I go back and forth about the importance of clarity. Certainly, “difficult” poems can sometimes do a better job of conveying an ultimately recondite reality.

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