I couldn’t go to sleep without it, the music

of those voices in my head, surviving or dying

as best they could among the sound effects

of footsteps in a hall, city traffic in a cab,

women older than my mother talking like girls,

The Shadow’s Orson Welles, or an imitator actor

pretending to be him, who knows what evil

lurks in the hearts of men—my own child’s heart

already damp with sin—the sometimes rain

of static interrupting what a murder means

or awful love or a dummy mouthing anger like

it’s comedy, until the stroke of midnight’s


then birdsong at first light to keep me company.