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January 26, 2010 

By: Jeffrey Bilbro

I see the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, clamoring futile

locked in cubicles, staring wide-eyed at shifting, flickering screens that monitor the
pulses of nations,

chained by headphones, cell phones, emails, texts, breaking news, virtual friends,

distracted by science, the assurance of progress, the good of future civilizations,
the swings of the stock exchange,

dulled by the roiling, crowded, insatiable, pandemonious lust for more,

dragged from church to temple, to Washington and back, from Wall Street to

They run to causes, hijacked principles, prostituted politicians claiming to be

are exalted as heroes, applauded, silenced, forgotten in the rush of progress and

Lobotomized, not with drills but with money, not from spite or anger or fear, but

by programs and application forms and credentials and the good ideas of good

by belief in the rights of the individual to his or her self-worth or self-help or self-

by concern for the upholding of truth or morality or tradition or terror,

by diverting desire to ambition and feeding ambition one crooked carrot at a time,

by fame and publication and tenure and promotion and noble drooling ideals.

Yet these are bought at the expense of the un-bought laughter of a man with no
boss and honest friends,

at the expense of gardens and tree houses and long, lingering suppers,

of hand-carved wooden dolls and fine shaped bowls and savored poems,

of quilts stitched through hours by needle-bitten, loving hands,

of moist loam, spring buds, the ice bite of water flowing down a granite mountain

of fresh food, grown and chopped and sautéed – carefully arranged in prodigal

of homes built by their inhabitants, born and died in,

of interstate road trips and camping trips, any sort of family trip,

of mystics and sages and centuries of wisdom,

of open eyes and grateful ears and deep breaths,

of real time, slow time, free time that cannot be bought,

of sunrise coffee and walks in the twilight and drowsy, front-porch late evenings,

of growing old with one wife and lingering kisses and making love.

They run to the ponds, the hills, the mountains to climb in solitude and silence,

scale rugged, glaciated peaks to get closer to God, truth, blue air, clean sky,

fish chuckling creeks as an excuse to steal quiet, thoughtful hours, minutes,

slide down a thousand-foot snow field no one has ever seen and release a howl of
free wonder at the speed and exhilaration and beauty,

pause to delight in the transformed leaves of a solitary vine maple – flaming red.

All these reformed by the fashionable, the confidential suggestion, the dismissive
nod, the bottom line,

their quiet questions smiled out of churches with well-meaning handshakes and
patted backs,

for fear that they may believe “take up” does not mean gaze at, consider or

and may believe “desire” is not a wish to be deferred until their days of listless

and may believe “come after” is not a part-time hobby or a use for their disposable

and may believe “deny” might hurt, might cost, might change the course of every

and may believe “cross” means death and blood and piercing joy, and might not
shy away;

and may believe “follow” involves walking in this hope and not just planning.

So from this fear they submit to ties and buttons and clean-shaven polite,
respectable silence, with a smile,

and go to work and invest in their endowment and save for a vacation to Europe

and have an affair, or two, and raise some kids and buy a boat and take a
mortgage to buy a second home

and read the paper and go to church and give to charity and call their parents once
a month

and get a nicer car, on loan, and watch their son play soccer and their daughter run

and sip a cappuccino and read Tolstoy and laugh at the foolish fashions of the rich

and make their appearance at lunches or dinners with the right people and put up
with their neighbor

and pray with a steady voice and consult qualified, educated authorities and dream
of finding their lives

and never stop and never sit still and avoid the whisper of silence.


3 Responses to “Whisper”
  1. utterly spectacular… bravo jeffrey. i enjoyed the hit of every line.


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