by

February 20, 2013

From the collection of poems Whiteout, published by ECW Press in 2012.

This is only a test. At the long tone
we will begin. At the long tone we will end.
At the long tone it is time for the news.
At the long tone you may begin to write.
When the bell rings you may rise to leave.
When the bells ring you may choose to flee.
The strike of the clock marks another birth.
The strike of the clock leaves welts shaped like hands.
Striking the clock marks another morning.
As the short tone sounds, events will unfold.
As the short tone sounds, the time will be right.
At the bell you will begin to salivate.
The experiment will begin when the toll
reaches all ears. The experiment will
begin when the topless lady wrings out
the last of her clothes. The experiment
involves pealing and will be double blind.
There are two strips of cloth for each ding you hear.
Please put them on, then record and report.
Ignore the mewl of the cat in the box.
The mewl of the cat in the box has no
relevance. Whether alive or dead
at the end of the experiment, you
must ignore all complaints from the cat.
Your first responsibility is to
the sound of the tone. Forget the cat.
Focus instead on the topless lady.
You have been provided with paper for notes.
You must take only the notes that are sung
to you. If you cannot hear the notes, you
may be shocked by the provided visuals.
The visuals will provide some context,
but will be shocking for some audiences.
The boom of the howitzer may make you jump.
The boom of the howitzer will connote
importance. The silver trumpets’ peal will
announce a king arriving or leaving.
The chime will call you in for tea and cake.
The chime is pleasant, but cannot be ignored.
As the chime sounds, birds will fall dead from the trees.
The chime will signal your imminent passing
from one bicycle lane to the next.
The klaxon will sound loudly in warning.
The klaxon also cannot be ignored.
The klaxon will note the start of the baggage
carousel. The horn will give you the fright
of your life. The ringing of metal means
swords have been drawn. The ringing of metal
can never be good. The trolley’s clang
might remind you of something fond and sweet.
The trolley’s clang might remind you of your
forgotten suitcase. The whistle of the train
means all are aboard and accounted for.
The whistle of the train used to be
in the distance. The whistle of the train
now comes with a bright light. At the long tone,
the experiment is set to begin.
At the long tone you may begin to run.
Each pulse of your blood will count for one beat.
Each beat of your blood will be considered
a long tone. For today’s purposes,
each pulse of your blood will be a starter
pistol in the distance, through water,
and echoed. Remember, this is only a test.

by

February 20, 2013

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