Friday, May 13, 2016

Three Silence Poems


I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own.—Chaim Potok, The Chosen

Two o’clock in the morning.

How silent is the room…

Just before a motorcycle roars,
Chopping the air into jagged chips of din
Thrown round and round a flywheel,
Spiraling into the orifice of the outer ear,
Noisy swirling water inside a gurgling drain,
Bowling ball rolling heavily down wooden planks…

Then it fades...
Sawdust bursting in air,
Settling, a fine layer of manna,
Powdery film on the workshop floor.

You cannot hear anything again.

Silence is thick bread—
It lies on a plate and makes a crusty whisper
Only if perturbed by buttering.

Solid door of heavy beams tightly riveted by iron knobs,
Slammed shut and bolted,
Sealed even in its tiniest crevices,
Stands guard at the portal to the strange habitation of another world.

Sparkling river of silence…

Sparkling river of silence,
Traveler along a shadowy forest floor—
I drink deep draughts, lasting,
Of your overflowing stillness!

Tipping your goblet,
I taste your darkness
As floral wine
Swirling inside a crystal

And breathe in perfume.
Fingers of a spellbound existence         
Stop my ears.
Awe, black thief, steals my voice.

Bereft of noise, I am
Transfixed as the blood moon
Hovering, windless night,
Balanced on the sword tip of time.

The world is motionless
As my spirit moves
And my stumbling heart is filled
By a presence…and quiet…

A quiet presence.


I am a lover of the moon and silence,
Silence milky as the moon,
Moon radiant as silence.
Silence is silver fish in black water,
Moon, bright flour and hot yeast,
Rolled into a fist,
Exhaling as it rises.

Push night against day,
Leave a small opening
—the moon.

Feed the wind
So it lies quietly,
Rising with effort

Faraway plume of white smoke,
Twilight crossing the border,
Comet in exclamation,
I see, not hear.
Heartbeats quickened by grief,
Engine roar beyond the wall,
Secrets spoken in a dream,
I hear, not see.

Blinded by the moon, I call out in my heart to silence striding into blackness beyond earshot.

Silence: Communication without Words by Ian McCall


  1. Credits - original publications:

    “Silence,” Boston Poetry Magazine (September 4, 2014)

    “Sparkling river of silence…,” On the Rusk (Issue 7), page 1

    “Nocturne,” Boston Poetry Magazine (September 4, 2014)


  2. Image courtesy of Ian McCall

    Image link: