The vocal apparatus kicks like a sleep-spasm –
a thigh muscle settling into the autopilot.
Windows, rhumbaing in the wind,
the rainstorm tick of the old gas-pipe,
nothing whispers to the hairs of the inner ear,
nothing irritates a sleeping voice to half-wake
but a counterpart – now, spasming
these half-human frequencies.
It monologues overloud at nothing.
It lacks its gists, just
a memory of talking left in a milky snail’s slick
on the articulators: larynx, pharynx, palate,
tongue, teeth, lips.
Nothing irritates like a voice:
nothing is as inconsiderate as talking.
The reply is half right,
half-asleep. Voices know only how to respond.
Only voices can accuse, can cause of other voices;
voices are the only pronouncers of silence.
The argument teeters, stumbles,
totters into slumber.
Copyright © Nick Ascroft 2015
Nick Ascroft is a New Zealand poet who has published two collections through Victoria University Press, and has appeared recently in the anthology Essential New Zealand Poems.