No, You Shut Up

The world baffles with sounds,
the worst of which is a human voice.
You would think that with a judgment like that
I would hate crowds, but better a pub’s intermingled dozens
than the sound of one fool speaking his mind.
The dozens drum and buzz and hum.
Against the dozens I could ring a wet glass
and sing C above high C,
could settle a bet with bold harmonics,
could stun down the bark of a barracks of dogs.
But against one idiot all another idiot can do is shout.
Imagine a life in which shouting was the precondition
for every action, if you had to shout to step, shout to sit,
shout loudly to effect any outcome.
What when you did speak would you say?
What wouldn’t sound old to you, 
about what could you not say I’ve heard this before?
What a relief it would be to scream yourself hoarse,
to be forced into silence,
the one note you know you can always hold.


Copyright © 2019 by Raymond McDaniel. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 24, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I certainly don't think all opinions are equally valid, but I also don't think we will be establishing clear agreement as to their relative validity any time soon, if ever. That means more conflict and endless din, which is both necessary and exhausting. Sometimes the sheer multiplicity of beliefs makes me want to have none, and this poem is about the likely false or hollow appeal of choosing to have nothing to say in lieu of being another shriek in an infernal chorus of civic pandemonium.”
Raymond McDaniel