Caught in the ear of the wind, 
silence stretches for an instant, 
then succumbs to summer’s racket: 
children shrilling out a need; 
a doorbell scored by a hawker’s thumb; 
pavements alive with clicking heels; 
the cool white noise of news, urgent 
to natter and bleed through walls. 
Growl of bus, beep of car horn, 
construction sites to eavesdrop on; 
generations making dissent and din — 
whine, groan, roar, moan, hum. 
Sounds spelling it out as song: 
shivery nuances, rising pitches, 
acoustic ripples, transmission glitches, 
snap of teeth and pop of bubblegum. 
The uphill grunt, the glottal stop, 
the hit tune warbled from the shower, 
while the furthest stars since their birth 
have been singing like a lawnmower 
on a fine Saturday afternoon, 
heard from so far away from earth 
it’s almost not heard, no more than 
than absent hiss on a sonic detector. 
Yet we cheer them to their very echo: 
sing you singers — the time of singing 
is not over yet, so sing, echo on echo. 
Sounds of many call over the bay; 
carry me back, they sing to us; 
and in the end all are chosen; 
our songs lifted from below, 
torn from earth to float away. 
Oh that voice of God technique, 
those chords of glory, that grandiose talk, 
those notes raised by an orator leaping: 
Holy musicola, and do-rag promises, 
old hee-haw of the donkey caravan; 
or snicker-snacker-snick of barber scissors; 
Nazi bellow at the Nuremberg Rally — 
a cut-off, chicken-plucking horrid squawk. 
For the dolphin language, they say, 
has twelve thousand semi-tones; 
and there’s a magic drone that blesses 
those who feel it — have you heard, have you heard? 
I have heard monkish choirs, skeletons tap-dancing, 
seventy-six trombones, a hurdy-gurdy that swirled, 
blood’s steady drumbeat, polychromatic cellphones: 
all sounds speaking with the mouth of the world. 


David Eggleton lives in Dunedin, where he is a poet, writer and arts journalist whose work has appeared in the ListenerArt New ZealandNew Zealand BooksArt NewsArchitecture New ZealandUrbisLandfall and many other publications. Soundings is a cascade of images that was triggered, curiously enough, by the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States at the end of 2008.