'Phonophobia' & 'Labour Day' || Tom Barlow


by Tom Barlow



A jet flies low overhead trailing a

shadow and I pause my pencil as

the sound lands, frantic and massive.

Please understand, such noises

are hands groping for my throat.

The neighbor with straight pipes 

launching down the street at midnight, 

wind chimes when the sky is bruised,

a cell phone pleading for devotion; all

gut punches. When the death metal band 

rehearses across the alley, I know the devil 

sits in, banging on the crash cymbal.

My whole world bleeds cacophony and

I am thin as a drum skin now; I hear 

only commotion. 

Help me please 

but hush

I can love you 

as long as you don't make a sound.


Labor Day

Sweat stains and blisters

aspirin and ice packs,

scars, a hitch when he walks /

her knees carry the pattern of

the kitchen floor / the cows won't 

milk themselves  / so who makes your

meal / who hangs your drywall / who 

will carve your name in a headstone /

and these days the dying still depend 

on them to ease their suffering /

we dine handsomely on the 

muscle of laborers / stuff a few bucks 

in their pockets and call ourselves 

munificent / so easy to ignore the 

pain of hard work, which, we are assured, 

never killed anyone but look around /

given time, we grind them down so fine 

the wind cannot help but blow them 

away / while we blame them 

when we sneeze.


Tom Barlow is a widely-published Ohio author of poetry and fiction. He writes because conversation requires a great deal of give and take and he's always considered himself more of a giver. See more at tombarlowauthor.com.


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