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Begin to retreat. Make
a steady return to silent comforts—
make hearing a sense that squints.
There is nothing else but
this to acknowledge—
His voice, impossible.

The first time it sounded
middle-ranged, aimed
straight ahead. In time
it grew wider, a voice
incorporating hundreds
of characters. It became
heavier than the initial
surface it carried, colored
and hot, now buoying
everyone who waded
into it. The voice
of a loved one, holding
its notes into the next measure—
where at first, it had been
just a single note.

His voice was meaning
without content—lines
not sentences. Listen to
the way it would sound,
falling into illness, into
sleep, into anything that
changes a voice—age,
coldness, degrees
of seriousness. Listen
to it whisper, in a language
that is not understood.
It whispered nothing.

Admit to having never
heard it, to not having
listened closely, or
to simply not having understood.
It will not be listened to
any longer if a voice
that beautiful
cannot sing on demand.
If it shuns, it should be
shunned. If it lies,
ignore it. If it cracks,
his voice shows him
to be someone delicate
and vulnerable and
unable to say the right

Listen to anything else—
the shiny pulse of the inner ears,
blaring hum of their music.
Return to older voices
that have changed so
much they have circled
back to their first state.
His voice, like all voices,
will not last. Remember
this loss, and retreat
to a previous deafness.

David Zaza lives in New York where he runs a design studio specializing in arts publications. His poetry has been published in print and digital magazines since 1992, including The Quarterly, Medusa’s Laugh and The Perch among others. Recent multidisciplinary projects include The Goldberg Variations, an audio project which presents his recited poetry with piano accompaniment; Before and After, or At The Same Time, a series of one poem and three illustrative fine art drawings; and [unreliable], a poetry/drawing collaboration with visual artist Mark Fox. With Fox, he created two puppet plays: A Criminal’s Story, produced by Saw Theater, Cincinnati; and The Kiss, produced by Franklin Furnace, New York.

NOVUS Literary and
Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN