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A Quiet Poem
My father screamed whenever the phone rang.

My aunt often screamed when she opened the door.

Out back, the willows caterwauled.

In the kitchen, the faucet screamed

a drop at a time.

At school, they called screaming “recess”

or sometimes “music.”

Our neighbors’ daughter had a scream

more melodious than my own.

At first, Col. Parker had to pay girls

to get them to scream for Elvis.

I didn’t want to scream when I saw The Beatles,

but I did. After that, I screamed for

even mediocre bands.

Late in his career, John Lennon

got into Primal Scream.

Many people find it relaxing to scream.

Just as crawling precedes walking, so screaming

precedes speech.

The roller coaster is just one of many

scream-inducing devices.

The ambulance tries, in its clumsy way, to emulate

the human scream, which in turn tires to emulate


Wind is often said to shriek, but Sylvia Plath

also speaks of “the parched scream of the sun.”

Jim Morrison wanted to hear the scream of the


With ultra-sensitive equipment, scientists measure

the screams of plants they’ve tortured.

It’s proven that if you scream at a person

for years, then suddenly stop, he will hear even

the tenderest words of love as violent curses.

And to anyone who speaks above a whisper, he will

say: “Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare raise your

voice to me.” 

Elaine Equi’s most recent book is Sentences and Rain. A new collection, The Intangibles, is forthcoming in fall 2019. Both books are from Coffee House Press.