Midrange Color

Tobi Kassim

Sound waves below 120 Hz do not resonate
in a compact space
time must be a loose container. For me to listen
among crossed purposes. I’m after something like
resonance after all, the suboptimal result
of rigid walls joined at right angles
like imprecise words. I had to read
the diagram of ideals closely like an outline
of my life, how to curve so waves have space
to miss each other. I don’t hear clearly in this
container. My cell walls are agitated
at close intervals. One undulant surface sets petals
to oscillate slowblurred colors through the room
after each other –the light in a trick mirror
illuminates sheets of music better. The invisible
is orchestrated in pointy vectors. The world tracks
its subwoof flatness. I was in the crosstown 
underground hum thinking what enclosure would help 
these retreads talk to eachother– what shape can I close
around my return? What I want to be
near  sounds different when I’m swept away
from it. I’m making a sound but it’s outside of me.


               Lowing to the ground I pay geologic attention to sediment
               in the center of the room. Time is not a trace
               hidden in the open– earth’s messages crystallize
               their weight in suspended off-colors above ground.
               Life too is a soundwave that gravity tends
               downward, settles into an ancient crumple
               In ribcage architectures. Someone’s put
               a mouth in the lowest part of the room like a vent
               to suck all our moan in.

Tobi Kassim was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, and has lived in the United States since 2003.  His poems have been in journals including The Volta, The Brooklyn Review, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Zocalo Public Square, and elsewhere. His chapbook Dear Sly Stone was published by Spiral Editions. He is an Undocupoets fellow, received a Katharine Bakeless Nason Scholarship from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and works in New Haven’s Public Library