Trouble Deaf Heaven

By Bin Ramke b. 1947 Bin Ramke

Sonnet 29

Is there a sound? There is a forest.
What is the world? The word is wilderness.
What is the answer? The answer is the world.
What is the beginning? A beginning is happiness.
What is the end? No one lives there now.
What is a beginning? The beginning is light.
What makes happiness? Nothing.
What makes an ending? What does not.
What is her skin? Her skin is composed of strange clothing and clouds of butterflies,
          of events and odors, of the rose fingers of dawn, transparent suns of full
          daylight, blue loves of dusk and night fish with huge eyes.
                                                                                    Max Walter Svanberg
What makes a question? Birds in the evening.
When do birds die? When it is complete.
What makes a world? The leaves shimmer in the wind, they
          reverberate with small heat and large wind and they cannot be counted.
What is music? A man lives there with his sister, they count the buses passing
          their window, and they count the small-winged insects which die on that
          windowsill.   
Who is happy? Nothing is necessary, everything that is is.
When does it end? A green delight the wounded mind endears
          After the hustling world is broken off.
                                                                                     John Clare
What is the beginning? The completion.
How does it complicate? In that it dazzles.
When does it matter? Blue loaves of dusk.
Who perishes?   
Who listens? There will be prizes.
What is a child? Blue lives of dusk.
Where does dust come from? From tropical skies.
When is it over?...into childhood...into fantasy...through the streets of New   
          York...through tropical skies....into the receiving trays the balls come to rest
          releasing prizes.
                                                                        Joseph Cornell
What does a child do? Listens with his body, with her body.
When does it end? Listens with the hands.
Does it end? The hands which are small and wide.
Where do children come from? White pebbles.
Who suffers? No one returns from there.
Who suffers? There was once a small forest with a path of white pebbles
          and a tame group of frights and follies; whoever entered knew
          the path would carry them to the other side, but that it would be
          scary and fun at the same time. No one who entered was ever seen again.
Is there a sound? There is a forest.
Who listens? The large lady with the small dog, she leans into the   
          neighbor’s yard to sniff the hydrangea once more hoping   
          this time it will have an odor, a sweetness which she feels
          such a desperate need for she is near despair, she is thinking
          of killing herself except who would care for the dog, who could know
          what he feels what he needs what his smelly bed in the corner actually
          means to him.
What matters? There is a forest.   
Who listens? Another theory of the origin of the universe holds that
          “matter” is a way of thinking, a little like love, actually, if you think
          of it that way.   
What matters? There is a forest.
What is the word? There is color, and no one know what to do with it.   
          We would be happier without it is one theory; we are irresponsible
          and full of angers like colors.
What does the child think? The child.
What does the child think? Happiness.
What child? A word is a small part of itself, it is round at times, and it satisfies
          only itself.
Does it answer? It does not.
What is pain? A small island, or perhaps it is a large island, the adjective is   
          merely relative and a convenience. There are a few inhabitants—one,   
          actually, ever at a time—and the sky’s red would perhaps be beautiful if
          there were another even a single other inhabitant, alas.
What is pain? A man turns and locks his door with exactly the same small
          dance of hands every morning at the same hour and pockets the key
          followed by a pat of the pocket with the hand which just locked the
          door. Unknown to him it is his life, it is the center and source of what
          he calls his life. It makes him what he is happy to call happy.
Who suffers? Oh, it is true, there are causes of cruelty, it is that kind of world.
What is geometry? It is how we know, and what.
What is the purpose of memory? Blue lines of dust.
What is the cat when she yawns?   
What is dust?   
Does the child suffer? The child is suffering.
Is the child cruel? The child crushes the world at will, the child destroys
          with angelic decorum, the child bleeds into his own drinking water
          and smiles to see color a demon and delirium the child is born knowing   
          and screaming and there is pain in his fist when he enters and there is   
          pain as if the atoms which whirl mad in their completeness were tiny   
          childbirths and it is the cruelty of children which presses upon the   
          innocent earth and coal turns to diamond.
What is to perish?   
What is to choose?   
What is to crush?

Bin Ramke, "Trouble Deaf Heaven" from Airs, Waters, Places. Copyright © 2001 by Bin Ramke.  Reprinted by permission of University of Iowa Press.

Source: Airs Waters Places: Poems by Bin Ramke (University of Iowa Press, 2001)

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Poet Bin Ramke b. 1947

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Youth, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving, Time & Brevity, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Bin  Ramke

Biography

Bin Ramke was born in south Texas, spent time in Louisiana when he was young, and attended the University of Louisiana. Once a student of mathematics, Ramke studied literature as an undergraduate and earned a Ph.D. from Ohio University. Ramke combines these typically disparate interests to inform his poetry. Of Tendril, Ramke’s 2007 collection, John Ashbery wrote, “Bin Ramke’s poetry presents itself as the product of curious . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Youth, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving, Time & Brevity, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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