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This poem is from the Spring 2015 issue of The Antioch Review.


by John Witte

No one remembers with certainty when we began to hate
our voices cold quavering while the voices of others

though we could not understand their language sounded
supple and melodious our own tongues lifted and fell

like hammers she hated her strangled voice he clanged
and pealed a voice not his own as the Romans must have

heard in the palaver of the Greeks a voluptuous music
and fallen silent pierced by their own brazen voices


Witte5AJohn Witte’s poems have appeared widely, in publications such as The New Yorker, Paris Review, Kenyon Review, and American Poetry Review, and been included in The Norton Introduction to Literature, among several anthologies. He is the author of LOVING THE DAYS (Wesleyan University Press, 1978), THE HURTLING (Orchises Press, 2005), SECOND NATURE (University of Washington Press, 2008),and DISQUIET (University of Washington Press, 2015). He was for thirty years the editor of Northwest Review, as well as of numerous books, including THE COLLECTED POEMS OF HAZEL HALL (Oregon State University Press, 2000). The recipient of two writing fellowships from the NEA, a residency at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and numerous other grants and awards, he lives with his family in Eugene, Oregon, where he teaches literature at the University of Oregon. More may be found on his website: http://www.johnwittepoet.com



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