June 28, 2021

J.R. Solonche

GO OUT AND LISTEN TO THE FROGS

Go out and listen to the frogs, he said.
They speak for you.

So I went out to listen to the frogs
as he said, for he was a poet and spoke 

with passion and audacious authority.
And in the moonlight at the pond,

I listened to the frogs speaking to one another,
and after a while I decided that the frogs

were not speaking for me but for themselves,
and after a little while longer, 

I decided that I wanted the moonlight
to speak for me instead of the frogs,

the moonlight, which was so much louder
than the frogs, the moonlight,

which was not confined to seasonal speaking
but which spoke through the year,

the moonlight, which was so much clearer
than the frogs, so much colder and more silver.

So I went out to the moon-pond and listened
to the moonlight speak for me.

And now, when they ask me, I will answer,
with passion of my own, and with my own

audacious authority: Go out and listen to the moon. 
It speaks for you.

from Rattle #71, Spring 2021

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J.R. Solonche: “I write poetry because I can’t write music and I have to write something. In my poem ‘Go Out and Listen to the Frogs,’ the ‘he’ who said, ‘Go out and listen to the frogs. They speak for you’ was Galway Kinnell. It was during a Q & A session after he read at the community college where I taught in the Hudson Valley. I didn’t have to take his advice because we hear thousands of frogs in upstate New York whether we want to listen or not. I wrote my poem as an answer both to him and to the frogs.”

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