ISAAC TELLER

​aural history


I measure in units of mythical pigeons
and nautical vibrations these days,
spotted sandpipers and ebony pelicans.
Correct me if I say birds have hair
but never if I’m wrong.
When I say fur, you say feather.

Labyrinthitis or infection of the inner ear.
The perforated drum is a neural misinformant
for the cerebral CIA. Signals
fly all over the place. Panic attacks

are often the first sign of an inner ear disorder—
When I say sound, you say motion.
Applause coming from the left sounds
like a gunshot coming from the right.

I said “immaculately annoyed” today
while driving and decided that it meant
I’m generally average. I’d rather be tenuous
than arbitrary.

Let the smith sleep as tightly as the armorer.
A swordsmith is like an author, necessary
to the end game but detached from
the ultimate action. The author sells a gun
to a boy and later shrugs
on the local news after the rampage—
“He had all the required documentation.”

Back to the otitis. The cranial maze.
I’ve always acknowledged I’m an artificer
but I’d never suspect that of my ear.
It’s always behaved so impartially,
and now this. Malice.

Isaac Fornarola is a poet, musician and journalist from Brooklyn, New York. He received an MFA from The New School in Manhattan and is currently a graduate reporter at Columbia University. His poetry has appeared in Apogee Magazine, The Offing, and White Stag Journal. He is the 2009 winner of  SUNY Buffalo’s Academy of American Poets Prize. He is the founder of Flux Weekly, an online magazine featuring poetry and personal essay by trans and queer writers.