Sound Poems

These poems have a strong or total sonic emphasis, often based on syllables, with conventional meaning usually of secondary or no importance. Play and playfulness tend to be the norm.

Click the arrows to listen to poems with audiofiles. Sometimes the text of a poem and its recording will differ somewhat. Apologies for the uneven and occasional poor quality of the sound, which also is often too loud. At some point I hope to re-record the poems. 

Following this group of poems is additional material, including Sound to Sound: (En)Chanting Techniques, an essay/article on my sound poetry.

Ah Kiss Me

[Note: The recording differs somewhat from the text.]

1
ah kiss
toess me cahsih oat
sah
eemohc sitah see mah
icsaho toe eess ahm
ik

so eat
ahss ihm oaksee toe
see
mahkist sohmeaks ah it
oh-see-mak sit
oh

2
seem
kahst iss omyah sik
moat
see
kassi stoee ahm ik
tossmeass ik
so ah
kiss me

Axioms

1. Tao Is Out

OUT<—>TAO

2. Illusion of Self
I AM<—>MAYA

3. Everything Changes
OFF ON<—>A FAWN<—>OFF ON

4. Everything Is Connected
MOM<—> MAO <—>OM<—> MAO <—>MOM

5. X Sex Is Hex
X<—>SEX<—>HEX<—>SEX<—>X

Note. Repeat word or words until they transform into next word or words. One-directional arrow indicates one-way transformation; two-way, two-way transformation.

Badlands Dan

badlands dan was a bad bad man
badlands dan had a whale of a tan
badlands dan was a sad sad man
badlands dan was a mad mad man
badlands dan had a spanish fan
badlands dan danced the can can can
badlands dan drove a hot pink van
badlands dan was a flash in the pan
badlands dan ran ran ran

badlands dan
badlands dan
badlands dan was a bad bad sad sad mad mad man

Note: The original was lost or never written down, but this is the gist of the poem.

California

if california calfornia if

if california if california

california cali california
cali california california cali

if if cali cali if if
cali cali if if cali cali if

if if cali if cal if if
if cal if cal if if cal
if cal if cal cal if cal

if if
if
if if if
if if if if if if if

Colorado

Colorado
Colorado Rado
Colorado Rado
Rado Colorado
Rado Colorado Rado
Rado Rado Colorado Rado
Orado
Orado
Orado Colorado
Orado Colorado Rado

Color
Color Colorado
Color Colorado Colorado Red
Color Colorado Red
Ored
Ored Colorado Red Colorado Red

Red Colorado Colorado Red
Colorado Rado Colorado
Colorado Rado Rado Colorado
Rado Colorado
Rado Colorado
Colorado
Colorado
Colorado Red

Don Ann Dan til Dawn

ann
ann ann ann ann ann ann ann ann ann

ann
ann in ann
ann on ann

ann and dan
ann in dan and dan on ann
dan in ann
dan in ann and dan in don

on
on and on
on and don and don in ann
and don and don and don on ann
don in ann
don in ann and don on ann

don
ann on don
ann on don and don in ann
on and on and on

don and ann
don on dan
dan in don
don in dan
dan on don
dan and on in ann and ann on dan and don in ann on dan in don on ann in dan and don
ann on don and ann dan don
dan don dan dan don don dan
and on

ann
ann on don and don on dan
ann on don and don in dan
ann on don and don in ann and dan in don
ann on don and don on dan and don in dan
ann and dan and don and on and on and on

don
don on ann and dan in ann
don on ann and dan in dan
don in ann and ann on dan
don in ann and ann on dan
don in ann and dan in ann
don on ann and dan in don
don in ann and dan in don
don and dan and don and on and don

and dan
dan in ann and don in don
dan on ann and don in ann
dan in ann and don in ann
dan in ann and don in ann
dan in ann and don in dan
dan on don and don in ann
dan in don and don in ann
dan in don and don on ann
ann on don and dan on ann
ann on dan and don on ann

ann and dan and don and on and on til dawn

The Fawn

on on in a wood a fawn
a wood dove a wild away
away it walks
into the wood
glen
on on into the glen
onto some grass a fawn
the fawn lies down
and sleeps

you and i
see the fawn
and
when the sun goes down
we
when we go
we when the way is slow
because
our eyes are closed but why

come
my lover tells me
more than the meandering river
is cold
the fawn shakes its head
blending in with the glen

a fawn a fawn a fawn a fawn a fawn a fauna fauna fauna

1975

Heated and Cheated

he did
he did and he did
he did
he did and he did
he did
he did and she did
she did and he did and she did and he did
she did
she did and he did
she did
he did and she did and he did and she didn’t
he did
he did and she didn’t
he did
he did
she didn’t she didn’t
he did
he didn’t she didn’t
he did
he didn’t he didn’t
she did
he didn’t he didn’t he didn’t she did and she did
she did
he didn’t he didn’t
she didn’t he didn’t he didn’t she didn’t he didn’t he didn’t she did and he didn’t he did
and she didn’t he didn’t he wouldn’t
she would
she would and she would
he wouldn’t
she would and she would and he wouldn’t he wouldn’t she would
he would
and she wouldn’t she wouldn’t he wouldn’t he would
he would and he would and he would and he would . . .
he would and she would
she would
she would
and he would and he would and she would and she wouldn’t she wouldn’t he could
and he could and he would and she couldn’t she couldn’t she couldn’t
she wouldn’t she wouldn’t
he would he could and he did
and he could and he would and she couldn’t she wouldn’t she wouldn’t she  didn’t he did
she didn’t he wouldn’t he wouldn’t he couldn’t he couldn’t he didn’t she did
she would   she would   she would
he wouldn’t he wouldn’t he wouldn’t he shouldn’t he shouldn’t he couldn’t he didn’t he did
she did and she should
he should’ve
he should’ve he couldn’t he wouldn’t he didn’t he didn’t she did
he had and he was and he didn’t he didn’t she had she was and she did
he couldn’t he couldn’t he should’ve he wouldn’t he didn’t she did

Honey Honey

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Horus Becomes Isis

Horus Horus Chorus
Horus Horus Chorus
Chorus Chorus Hoarse
Chorus Hoarse Hoarse
Hoarse Hoarse Coarse
Hoarse Coarse Coerce
Coarse Coerce Chorus
Coerce Chorus Whores
Chorus Whores Horus
Whores Horus Hoarse
Hoarse Source Source
Source Sore Sore
Sore a Sore a Sore
Tsuris Tsuris Tsuris
Service Service
Service Service
Service Tsuris
Tsuris Sore
Sore Source
Source Hoarse
Hoarse Hórus
I Saw
I Saw I Saw
I Saw a Saw
A Saw Saw
Saw Saw
Saw Sauce
Sauce
Sauce So
So So
So Zo
Zo Zo

Is It

Note: The recording stops before the end of the poem, and the poem text continues beyond what is recorded. Feel free to experiment with reciting the unrecorded part of the poem yourself. Additionally, you will notice a part III at the end. What was supposed to go here, I do not remember, but again, feel free to create your own.

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Kola Joe

kola joe
kola joe
kola kola kola joe
kola joe
kola joe
kola kola kola joe

coconut joe
coconut joe
coconut coconut coconut joe
coconut joe
coconut joe
coconut coconut coconut joe

kola joe
kola joe
kola k kola k kola k joe
kola joe
kola joe
kola k kola k kola k joe

jokola joe
jokola joe
jokola jokola jokola joe
jokola joe
jokola joe
jokola jokola jokola joe

jola k jole
jola k jole
jola k jola k jola k joe
jola k jole
jola k jole
jola k jola k jola k joe

joe conut
joe conut
joe conut joe conut joe conut joe
joke a nut joe
joke a nut joe
joke a nut joe a nut joke a nut joe

Lava Lover

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Miami Maya

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More Rain

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On a Fawn

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On Off On

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People Dancing

Everyone is dancing, all kinds of people.

They’re dancing in the aisles
After weddings. Frolicking
In the fields after harvest. They are
Dancing the Lindy Hop
In ballrooms under the stars, by
Moonlight. People
Dance in the dark, close,
Among the breaking waves
At the beach. They dance
The waltz, shimmy, twist, and bop,
Mash, monster mash, tango, mambo, limbo, hambo, rumba, and samba.
They breakdance, hippity hopping, fast and slow,
Dressed in shimmers and sparkles,
Square and contra dance. Doing flamenco, tap,
Ballet, jazz, modern, and oh don’t forget the polka,
They twirl, whirling dervishes,
Moons around planets, planets around the sun. Lined up
In line dances, going round and round
In circle dances in faraway places. Stepping, clogging,
Kicking, leaping, all day, all night, every day, around the world.
Dancing.
People dancing, all kinds of people dancing.
Throughout the solar system,
On Venus, Mars, the moons of Jupiter,
To the ends of universe.

Note: Not quite a sound poem. Originally intended for children.

Short Poem

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structure two

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susan

rides her bike bikes to ensenada

nods her head her thin wan face nods
up and down up and down her shapeless cotton top white so white so what no socks! shy and quiet shy and quiet nodding

turns eyes away
hands i didnt
catch a fat black cat
toes white she smiles still and serious
jeans blue and baggy baggy blue too short too this too that so what from Iowa
shy pale and white young and tiny tiny
ears that cover me and see

hands
eyes i missed the yellow ten speed bike you pedaled fast and sleek
fast sleek and light so light you light a cigarette and nod
nod and nod you nod a knot

(Note: Pre-chanting sound poem.)

Take a Deep

breathe
breath
death
dearth
earth
hearth
heart
hear
ear
are
ra
a
ra
are
ear
hear
heart
hearth
earth
dearth
death
breath
breathe

Thor Speaks

AT
AROT OR
AT AROT RA

AT
AROT OH
AT RA ARO

AT
AROT AT
RA ARO OH

AT
AROT A
RA ARO OR

AT
AROT RA
ARO ORA A

RA
AROT AT AROT
RATA ATA TA

TA ARO RO
TOTR

RO
OTR OT
TO RTO RO

Torah Tarot

tarot ro
tarot tarot ro arot
to aro ro
to aro ro
tarot tarot ro
tarot tarot ro
to aro ro
to aro ro orah
to arot ro orah
ro orah orah rah torah
rah rah torah rah
rah torah rah
torah torah ro
torah torah ro aro
ro aro ro tarot
ro aro aro ro tarot
tarot tarot tarot ro torah
torah torah torah rah tarot
tarot tarot torah rah torah rah torah
tarot

Two-Voice Overlap EWRs (Evolving Word Repetitions)

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Utah

tah tah utah utah tah
tah tah utah utah tah
tah utah u tah tah
tah utah utah tah
tah utah utah tah
ah utah utah tah
ah tah utah utah tah
tah
utah
u utah
hah
utah
utah tah hah
ah hah
ah hah
ah hah hah hah
utah

wichita falls 1

wichita.
wichita falls.
wichita falls fall.
wichita’s fall falls fall.
wichita falls’ fall fall falls.
wichita falls falls.
wichita?
wichita falls.
which falls?
wichita falls.
which falls fall?
wichita falls fall.
which fall falls?
wichita’s fall falls.
which wichita falls fall?
wichita falls fall.
which wichita?
wichita falls.
wichita falls?
wichita falls.
which wichita falls?
wichita’s.
wichita?
wichita.

wichita falls 2

wichita.
wichita falls.
wichita falls wichita.
ta wichita ta wichita falls.
which falls?
wichita wichita wichita falls.
which wichita wichita ta?
ta wichita wichita ta.
which ta?
ta ta wichita ta ta wichita ta wichita ta wichita.
which falls fall?
wichita falls fall wichita ta wichita falls wichita falls.
ta ta wichita wichita ta wichita ta wichita falls fall wichita.
which wichita?
ta wichita wichita ta wichita wichita ta wichita wichita ta.
which wich?
wich wich wich wich wich wich wich.
which wich?
wich wichita wichita ta which falls wichita wichita falls.
which falls which falls which falls fall?
wichita withcita wichita falls falls wichita ta ta wichita falls.
falls’ falls fall?
fall’s falls fall.
falls fall fall falls?
ta.
ta ta.
ta ta ta.
ta ta tatata tatata ta.
ta.

august 1974
venice california

**********

Do-It Yourself Sound Poems
by the sea
r
the rise and fall of poetry

More Sound Poems–Handwritten or Typed, Text Only
Click on the page or pages of the poems to make the text larger and more readable.

A DA A
AN NA
on anon
Child–Two Versions
Dance
Dancing
4 Experiments with Syllables
Minim 1 & 2
my moon man
no
oh no
oo o
ow
O Wo Wo
rainman
ra ne
6-Voice Poem
Structure 1 (not quite a sound poem but on the way)
ta la
Way When
You Yo

Additional Material
Instructions for Syllable Poems–These go with “Child” and “4 Experiments” in the previous section and may go with other poems as well.
Sound Poem Designs and Notes after the Manner of the Artist Sol Lewitt
Sound to Sound: (En)Chanting Techniques–an essay/article on my sound poetry
Publications with My Sound Poems
Sound Poetry–Wikipedia

Reviews, Mentions, and Flyers
Richard Kostelanetz, “Text-Sound Art: A Survey,” part 2, in Performing Arts
Journal
, Winter 1978 (Vol. II, No. 3), p. 81.

Stephen Ruppenthal and Larry Wendt, “Vocable Gestures: A Historical Survey of Sound Poetry, in From Europe 1977: Art Contemporary, No. 9 (Vol. 3/No. 1), p. 95.

Stephen Ruppenthal and Larry Wendt, Variety Theatre: An Anthology of Recorded Sound Poetry. San Francisco: La Mamelle, 1977. Booklet accompanying tape of same name listed in “Publications with My Sound Poems” above. Click here for the Variety Theater Sound-Poetry Cassette-Tape Anthology Liner Notes (1977).

New York City Sound-Poetry Event organized in 1975 by Henry Rasof. Programs, bios, and Village Voice review by Tom Johnson.

West Coast International Sound Poetry Festival, November 1977, La Mamelle Arts Center, San Francisco. Flyer. 

Text-Sound-Poetry Exhibits in Italy–selected programs and notes.
Oggi Poesia Domani
Liceo Artistico Statale di Frosinone
Figura/Scrittura/Partitura
Figura/Partitura