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Having never spared a thought that it may hurt this much
were I to strain my voice against a stricken & starless sky,

I strain my voice now against what stars a sky
gone dark, navy blue radio silence, a hollow psalm

gutted for what seemed too dark & silent, this open psalm
spread out in penitence. What I’m trying to say is that,

thinly spread—a pittance—to say that,
I struggle. Not because this poem ought to be quiet—it’s not—

but because the old gods & masters want the quiet. They teach it’s not
about their own worlds speaking the quiet part out loud

but that every other worlds’ refrains refrain from this quiet-out-loud.
I miss the gentle strength of language palpably taut,

held with what little strength my language holds before snapping, taut.
I want to sing in variable volumes, decibels hardly thought

possible, a whisper’s whisper, having decided a hard thought
has neither sparred with softness nor risked that doing so could hurt this much.

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash

Jacob Schepers

Jacob Schepers is the author of A Bundle of Careful Compromises (Outriders Poetry Project 2014) whose poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in Verse, Heavy Feather Review, Burning House Press, Midway Journal, The Indianapolis Review, and elsewhere. He is a founding editor of ballast and teaches at the University of Notre Dame.