You know what I mean, all those ugly sounds
we hear each day, that make us hiss and flinch,
and set our teeth on edge: those piercing tones
that permeate our lives. So, you might think
we’d choose a mellow, pleasant resonance,
but no— we pick the most annoying pitch.
We suffer every day: why don’t we pitch
a fit, and outlaw these obnoxious sounds?
The ponderous, dopplering resonance
of air horns; the shuddering bang and flinch
of garbage trucks, so loud that we can’t think;
the yowl of sirens— all ubiquitous tones.
These are noises that break glass; nasty tones
that pierce our eardrums with their evil pitch;
the garbled game-boy harmonies we think
are up-to-date; the cheap, distorted sounds
of cell phones at the movies— we all flinch,
but somehow still allow this resonance.
Suppose it causes cancer? Resonance
that erodes tooth enamel: high-tech tones
that go dah-dee-dah till there’s no flinch
left! I dare you to find a loathsome pitch
more penetrating than the squeal that sounds
at gas station doors! So, what do you think?
What stubborn, stupid reason makes us think
that we’ll adapt to sonic resonance
that curdles milk, that hurts our ears, that sounds
like a goosed banshee? We could choose soft tones
instead; a comforting, amiable pitch
to make us calm— instead, we twitch and flinch.
Imagine a harmonious and flinch-
free world, where there’s a peaceful place to think,
uninterrupted— the melodious pitch
of birdsong; the relaxing resonance
of wind-chimes in a breeze; kind, grateful tones.
We’d be refreshed each time we heard such sounds.
But no! our sounds just prove we like to flinch
and cringe at toxic tones, and I still think
our resonance is foul— we’re wayoff-pitch.
Author’s note: This is a poem form called a “sestina,” and it’s a blast to write!
A sestina follows a strict pattern of the repetition of the initial six end-words of the first stanza through the remaining five six-line stanzas, culminating in a three-line envoi.