Elaine Equi

1953 / Oak Park, Illinois

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
nature.

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
butterfly.

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."
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