Life on Loud St.

well at 4:30 it is still dark
the frozen food truck comes up
air brakes and beeping
the guy on his cell phone
the truck door and this other noise
i can’t explain it
like a convergence of flamingos
more air brakes then he goes
it is fitful rest for me up in the garret
what with my neighbour’s alarm
minutes later the janitorial staff
for the bar below me
are out smoking the one guy
he’s wanting to grow a Mohawk
“but those days are gone forever,”
he says stoically, as though he’s
mayor of Oak Bay or something
they are an energetic duo those janitors
and so they smoke three or four each
then they get to tossing the patio furniture around
for exercise or form or function
they go inside and turn on the house stereo
so what I get through the ceiling/floor
is a repetitive beat and some watered down melody
—which I’m sure is beautiful
if you’ve eaten some narcotics—
this is when I usually put the earplugs back in
but it sounds like a car accident
the roads are wet oh it’s nothing
my neighbour’s smoke alarm or his regular alarm
now the coffee junkies are out there
and it sounds pretty important
the girl has a new kite surfing thing
and the guy is pretty certain, “it’s awesome,”
and she agrees, it is, like, “awesome.”
they are below my window
and it sounds like love
but I’m not sure what happens to them because
the recycling truck has pulled up
—it’s Saturday, but I guess the bar
has a special deal with the city
so the dude is out there operating
the special robotic arm
which was designed originally for the
space shuttle but they shut that program down
I guess the arm is silent in space
anyway there are hundreds of jars
and bottles and cans
and what sound like cannon balls
but that’s silly who’d throw away cannon balls
on Loud St.? why just think what you could use them for
but the recycling guy isn’t happy
with where he’s positioned the truck
so the reverse signal blares out
and it’s quite loud because the
insurance company that decides
how loud it should be
want to make sure
if someone is sleeping under the truck
that he or she will have time to not sue
the truck the city the dude the robotic arm

there goes my neighbour’s alarm clock

I figure I’ll get up around this point
and have a cup of tea
usually 7 or 7:30
Loud St. falls into a torpor of silence
an eternity of taciturnity
this drags on for three or four minutes
so much so I begin to think,
“it’s happened, the apocalypse,”
but then, no, the Bubble Man has
arrived in his rad hippie van
and it sounds like a parade or,
well, what is that sound?
I guess it’s super difficult to find
mufflers for those old vans
but, so what? that guy makes bubbles!
giant bubbles which thrill the children
—sure, those kids are still in bed,
but, later…
oh, wait, a group of guys are singing
on the corner, or chanting,
I guess they are in a fraternity
or a choir or they are on the same
medication—whatever! such voices!
and such passion: I wish I had been more interested
in hip-hop as a young man; the urbanity!
the poetry of the black, disenfranchised,
former slaves! the music of the oppressed
sung by giddy white, affluent males
—only they can bring out its true colours
only they can—but wait, they’ve moved off
out of earshot
oh I think all their phones
rang at the same time
yes! that’s it! they’ve managed to
call each other on a conference line
oh, this is hilarious! these jokesters
through my neighbour’s alarm
I can hear them plainly
I can see them through this grimy window
oh, some young ladies are watching, too
this is a parade! imagine, only on Loud St.

but this is tragic: someone is strangling
a crow, or two crows, or… no, wait
it’s just the crows around the dumpsters
well, talk about music!
there must be a disagreement
but I don’t speak crow or…
oh, my neighbour’s smoke alarm
or sleep alarm or a bank is being robbed
in the next door apartment
he must be really tired to not hear such a…
oh, he’s gone out, or simply not come back in
whichever is correct
he’s not at home
but the alarm doesn’t care about who’s home
it’s an alarm, is all
I heard it said this alarm was also
designed for the space shuttle
the first shrill audio pulses ever distinguished
in space

because they’re so jealous
it can’t be right
the total calm
of that endless night
—someone is dancing on the ceiling—
people down here have generated a petition
to get more sound into space
to communicate is the thing
to get all the phones to ring and ring
join in all human voices hand in throaty hand
a noisy petition
a trembling, sharp, throng-ed song of
what we’re talking about down here
and if people don’t want to join in
well, we may have to force a few hands
because of the importance
of this idea
don’t worry
people will get into the spirit of the
talking and singing and chanting and horns
if we have to stick ‘em in dungeons to do it

and I heard the Bubble Man say
they just might yet build a Loud St.
on the moon
upon the frozen tympanic membrane,
the dusted, auditory ossicles,
the sheer lunacy of unholy, ancient silence


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