The Busy City: Playing with Noise in Poetry

 I want to share something really cool that formed in class today. We had been talking about noises in poems — noisy things, words we liked the sound of, onomatopoeia — and decided to write a group poem about a crazy, noisy city night. Everyone, including me, was given a small slip of paper. We each wrote one line. Then I put them in the best order that occurred to me.  The poem it formed was really exciting, and the class thought so too. There was a kind of wildness and unity, and of course a real noisy, visceral liveliness in it. But enough talking about poetry like an abstract wine taster — you can read it yourself.

The Busy City

I can hear the peaceful sound of the city. Honk! Honk! Honk! Honk!

I hear a sound that sounds like somebody going flop. No, a car.

Up the escalator, down the very tall stairs. Honk goes the cars. Well goes the man, why’d you hit my bumper.

Basher — THWACK! Crack! Gun — RAT-A tat tat. Plink, Jink, SLAKT! Freedom! Boom!

Honk, crash, boom, eeeoooeeeooo.

The town was noisy. Boom, crash, splat. Everything was noisy. Creak, bang. Too loud, too loud. The town is too loud.

Hewwwph…. The wind of the storm. Honk, honk, whew. A traffic jam. Stop the! — bang, bang. The guns in a riot. Croak, criou, criou. Insects in the night. Hewwph. Honk, whew, bang, croak, criou. The city.

There were rock bands playing and pots slamming together. Tornado!

Creak, squeak, creak, squeak, wipers sweep the splashy glass the splishy fishy puddle washing wheels crossing hills heading home through the rain beat streets.

The moths are buzzing with their golden wings under the light of the moon.

Boom crack. Sound. My heart beat goes on and on. On.