[Issue 1 / May 2012]

Listening by W. F. Lantry

“I said to my soul: ‘Be still…'”

~ Eliot


A thousand voices clamour in my head

I banish each in sequence. Some persist

until I breathe them out. Their calumny

makes peace seem unachievable today

but still I chase the silence. As they go

they leave an emptiness that’s quickly filled


with any music I have lately heard

and then with lyrics I remember from

songs of my early years. They fall away

and instrumental melodies confuse

all my intentions towards their vanishings,

and then the tones of ancient instruments


come crowding in, almost as if to drink

their nourishment of me, so they can speak

and these I scatter back to wandering

with just a simple, half imagined wave,

and finally, the silence fills me: now

a tranquil emptiness can overflow


the vessel I’ve become. Then I can hear,

and only then, her voice. Not whispering,

almost as if a breath within me spoke

in unsubstantial syllables remade

by my own breathing into earthly sound

and set down in these lines to resonate.



W.F. Lantry [2], a native of San Diego, received his Maîtrise from

_L’Université de Nice and holds a PhD in Literature and Creative

Writing from the University of Houston. Recent honors include the National

Hackney Literary Award in Poetry, CutBank – Patricia Goedicke Prize,

Crucible – Editors’ Poetry Prize, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry

for Peace Prize (inIsrael), and Atlanta Review International Publication

Prize. His chapbook The Language of Birds (Finishing Line Press 2011),

is a lyric retelling of Attar’s Conference of the Birds. He currently

works in Washington, DC and is a contributing editor of Umbrella: A

Journal of Poetry & Kindred Prose.