FEATURED POEM OF THE WEEK: Fisseha Moges – “Reverb”

Reverb

Since the beginning of the 20th century

The Shoebox model has been considered the standard of concert hall design,

by placing an orchestra directly in the front, face-to-face with the audience.

Nowadays halls are designed in a horseshoe shape, with curved walls that reflect sound to reach ears from both sides.

but older conductors still swear by sound traveling in one direction, as the most sonically pleasing.

that it is disturbing to hear sound coming from a direction different than the one you’re looking at

That my black body is a fetish on stage but an exiled prayer off it

85% of sensory perception is taken in through our eyes.

When architects are designing the seating arrangements

They determine an intimate physical relationship is important

to create visual connections between the audience and the orchestra.

The ability to see the faces of the performers and the emotions expressed upon them can influence how we perceive their performance.

which is to say, if a black body falls on stage,

and everyone was there to see it, did they still hear it?

which is to say, a black body is born a sought after performer,

and each day is spent trying to convince you

the skin and screams are emanating from the same body.

in a closed concert hall, sound reverberates for a period of time

after the source has stopped emitting sound.

A place with long reverberation is called a live environment.

When sound dies out quickly, it is a dead environment.

which is to say

this land is the most live and dead environment at the same time

which is to say, my black body performs the loudest when it is dead

The wooden stage is designed to act as an instrument itself

Having a large pocket of air beneath that vibrates

from contact with heavy instruments, and reflects it back into space.

And the cheapest seats in the top gallery receive the best acoustics

As they are on the receiving end of all reverberated sound, traveling from the stage

Up the supports through strategically placed wooden posts that direct sound to the suspended floorboards beneath your feet

Which is to say, a black death is only loud if it’s not infront but beneath you.

On the day of a large symphony,

musicians stand on movable orchestral platforms

that can be adjusted to achieve the desired sound balance,

depending on how loud the instrument is.

Something large like a tuba or an Eric Garner

would be placed on a lower platform in the back

So as to not suck out the air Aiyana Jones’ seven-year old violin would need

To get your attention

The ceiling skylights are made with four layers of glass,

With four feet of air from Sandra Bland’s lungs in between the layers to trap sound inside the hall and prevent the hissing sound of her slow asphyxiated cell hanging from being heard on the outside

So as to have long reverberation time in a live and dead environment

Staging is just as critical as the environment

In an orchestra of 100, 60% of the performers are dead strings

Placed front and center for the audience’s viewing pleasure,

As they are the most quiet individually and must be multiplied exponentially

If they are to ever to make a note worth hearing

Because a black death is only loud if you cant see it in front of you

and the best way to kill a performer

is choosing to hear them once and never again

and during the performance

the conductor controls every aspect of the show

and he has the uncanny ability to tone a racist’s performance

down to a dead environment while elevating black-on-black crime

and blue lives matter into a live environment that drowns out the screams

and the conductor’s favorite piece of music to perform

is “A Black Boy’s Symphony Concerto No. 559 deaths in 2017…and counting”,

especially the auditory climax,

where he uses his baton and gun

to rapidly change the Tamir Rice section

of a 12 year old A minor into a B flat position

within two seconds

And the black woman’s song travels

In a different frequency than the black male,

That is so sharp to static ears

the audience cannot actually hear

Rekia Boyd’s broken body and out of tune mouth,

That the crescendo of a build up from a murmuring entrance

To a gargantuan fortissimo

Is not just dependent on the performer’s skill

But the environment, its acoustics and the positioning of the audience’s ears

When “Stonewall Riots Sonata in the key of Marsha P transitioning to the key of Miss Major No. 1969”

Gets drowned out in the Hudson River by white noise fragility

So a voice is a metronome

Or a trumpet,

Depending on who your God is

And what reverberation your body responds to.

And there is bleed that decorates black space

And there is scream that bends into a low sigh

And there is space eager to be filled with melody

And we witness a descending body and the scream in the aftermath not occur in the same breath

And the sight does not match the sound

And the air in our lungs is translated into despair as it enters an instrument’s hole screeching

And exits a digestible repertoire

That reverberates beyond the walls.