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"The poem 'Why is Quiet 'Kept'?' began with its title, which I had written in my notebook in response to another entry: 'The mystic has wisdom but is too wise to express it. Therefore, he or she keeps quiet.' I find it interesting that poetry achieves its famous silence despite the social bustle of words."

Why is Quiet "Kept"?

Paul Hoover

They are crying out in restaurants,
so delighted to be speaking,
they appear to be insane.

But we are the silent types, 
who hold speech within 
like the rustle of gold foil.

We eat our words and swallow hard.
There’s nothing much to say.
The knot’s in its nest, breathing.
A hand thinks it’s a bird.

The world “nows”; it doesn’t know.
The world “wows.” Then it snows.

A word arrives, silent and upright.
It stands in profile against a white wall.
It’s here for safekeeping only.

Keep quiet, mice.
A cat’s patrolling the area, 
with drones and more drones.

The keys we carry unlock us every day
and lock us up again.  Hushed is the ward.
Now conjugate, please, to werd and to werld.

One of us has just conceived 
the sum for infinity:  plus one, plus one, plus one.
In the cosmological phone booth,
there’s always one more.

The fishing report’s too thick to read, 
but its cadence is that of a god.
Waves and ships are passing.
We can barely discern the semaphores
flashing through the fog.

And here are the ones who walk the walk and talk the talk,  
blackening the day with news, with news.

Copyright © 2014 by Paul Hoover. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 17, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

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