Chimes by Zilka Joseph with comments by Third Eye Staff

I hear chimes this morning --
the uneven tiny, silver-toned sounds
like the chimes we hung on the window
of our first apartment in America,
on West Aldine, Chicago, and the tinkling
like anklets, like the chatter of high voices,
that woke me in the morning
on days I didn’t want to wake,
or mornings I didn’t know if I was still
 

The poem sounds like a stream-of-consciousness, in which one thought leads fluidly into another. I like how the line breaks happen in the middle of sentences, because it contributes to the thought-like feeling of the poem. The transition is really smooth and naturally develops from one idea to the other. – Laura Crouch, age 19

in Calcutta, hearing the night clatter,
the din of the restaurant on Bright street,
its skinny child servers at the hand pump
scrubbing soot-black pots with cavernous
bellies which could hold two teenagers
with ease. The black cast iron tavaas,
the dented aluminum dekchis cool at last,
washed by callused hands.
Lids clanging, spoons falling,
footsteps on pavements, the owner shouting –
all made harsh night music
 

"harsh night music": I like that this brings all the previously described noises together and gives them a sense of unity and belonging; like if one of those components were missing, it might not be music anymore. – Sarah Branz, age 19
All of this sounds restless and chaotic. You can feel the uneasiness. – Rachel Talen, age 23

that ripped through the cool breeze and the barking
of street dogs. I heard every word
 
of their lewd stories, loud laughter,
learnt words that stung my mouth
like acid, their vileness strangely satisfying.
Voices cracking, they sang film songs

These powerful concrete images lend authenticity and intimacy to the speaker’s recollections. They also show how deeply the memories of her home country are buried within her, affecting her present life. – Kyle Austin, age 23

in the yellow pool of the street lamp,
teased the drunks, the homeless,
fought each other till blood stained
the dead street two floors below my window –

Interesting that the speaker is not discouraged by the memories of violence that seemed common in her neighborhood in Calcutta. The memories are a source of comfort, for despite their violence they carry the deep connectedness of home, rather than the cold sterility of an unfamiliar place. – Kyle Austin, age 23

a son et lumiere set at midnight,
 
when my hot body tossed
on damp sheets, and sleep would not come.

This couplet puts an end to the restless feeling of the poem, as if she has accepted her sleeplessness. It is a sudden ending after the draw of the longer stanzas. – Sarah Branz, age 19
Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.