“A Banished Sound”

A Banished Sound

by John Kaufman


Banishment has this benefit:
Art becomes your argument. You’re free
To dabble in the resistance of language,
Rebel in babble, decorate the walls
With something human that will last or have
To be furiously, futilely erased.
Exhausting to elaborate the facts,
Explain thisness of this, thatness of that
To people who put on power like a hat
That covers eyes and ears but not
The mouth: to hear themselves they have to shout.
Call it the drowning out of doubt,
Conquering of conscience, clearing a forest
That will come marching back– Macbeth’s
Nightmare. Better to be a witch,
A soothing sayer of spells casting doubt
In riddles and rhyme. Be lyrical, then,
Be underhand to undermine, eschew
Fury and cultivate a banished sound.
Despite doubt, you are signifying something.

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