How to listen

This entry is part 4 of 39 in the series Manual


Download the MP3

Just as the tail bone is a vestigial tail, the ears are vestigial cabbages.

Wear a hat to ward off ear worms, which if unchecked can turn into ear moths.

Listen with the heart. It’s not really designed for that, but it gets bored just pumping blood all the time.

Listen with your skin: each body hair is an antenna.

Turn on, tune in, drop into a really comfortable couch.

That “still, small voice” is neither God nor conscience but a long-deceased great aunt with a few things still on her mind.

Take notes.

All sound can be heard as music, but not all music can be heard as music.

Your life did, in fact, come with a soundtrack—what have you done with it?

The listener, too, must improvise.

One chord is enough for most purposes—don’t be greedy!

Silence can take four basic forms: pregnant, shocked, utter, and radio.

Pregnant silence is the most tragic, since she always dies giving birth.

Compose in her memory a sonata for the ear trumpet.

Series Navigation← How to walkHow to wait →
Posted in , , ,

Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. This series is wonderful. Be sure to collect these poems into your next book.

    “How to enchant readers,” maybe.


    1. Thanks — glad you like these so far. I haven’t resolved to put them in the “poems and poem-like things” category yet, which is kind of liberating, but I guess they are as poem-like as anything else I’ve posted.


    1. Thank you! My only worry with this one is that it veers dangerously close to giving useful advice at one or two spots.


  2. I read a couple of these to Martha, just before we went out the door to something or other, and she said, “be sure to read me the rest of that when we get back!”


    1. Awesome. That’s great feedback. I am trying to write things that might appeal to people who don’t necessarily read poems, too (not that Martha fits in that camp).


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.