A Word to the Wise

By Peter Halstead

The voices that surround the room,
discussing who said what to whom,

rising on the ocean wind and falling,
riffling through the fronds and squalling,

don’t condescend to let me in
on their airy conversation,

knowing that the sleeping me
thinks of this as MP3,

as skittering sea breeze
being insincere with leaves,

or lightning in the sheets.
But as ghostly light accretes

and specters form around the edges,
so words infuse the rustling ledges

on nights like this, when foggy seas
produce their own mythologies,

and banging door and dead man’s moan
grow a nature of their own,

until I come to feel the voices
have started making certain choices,

timing the important parts
for when rationality departs,

humming, chattering, and carrying on
in a spirit being talkathon,

inversely to my consciousness,
so spectacles can reminisce

in the corners of my ears
where corroboration disappears,

and the music of the atmosphere
remains garbled and unclear

(try as it will to convince
us with a night of hints,

with a will of the wisp or
a lost love’s eerie whisper).