When I had a voice …by Joie Cook (day 1)

(during an extended case of laryngitis)


I could be heard all the way to the Mississippi
Funneling down into New Orleans
Past barges and plows
People knew me from my yell
It was larger than the space inside saxophones

In a supermarket once
As I was yelling at a boyfriend over canned peas,
A woman found me through my voice
Touching my shoulder, she said “there you are–
I would know that sound anywhere”

How I took it for granted,
Screaming, shouting, whispering, singing
All through the day and into night
Vocal cords vibrating so violently
My body must have had it   up    to   here

Reading aloud– something I loved.
Singing an old song– even better.
Comforting a lover– maybe.
Now, for this instant, gone.
Just memories, dust.  Silence.

When my voice returns
I will go to the peak of the tallest mountain
Sitting in the lotus position I will holler my name:
An attempt to echo back to me
The confirmation of my own existence.

8 Responses to “When I had a voice …by Joie Cook (day 1)”

  1. Joie Cook has been reading & writing poetry for decades.
    Prior to performing poetry, she played in numerous bands and
    traveled far and wide, always returning to San Francisco.
    An East Coast transplant, she first came to SF in 1972.
    She was the first reader at the infamous Babar Cafe series
    in the early 1980’s and MC’d the stage off and on with vengeance.
    She continues to write and paint with a sharp and cunning wit.

  2. Big fan, Joie.

    “People knew me from my yell
    It was larger than the space inside saxophones”

    Damn, that’s good.

  3. Dave Picariello Says:

    Joie echos back to us the missing chord progression our own consciousness howling like the biggest baddest hound dog at the yaller moon….aaahhhooooo!!! beaten but not to the bone…love always your husband Dave…

  4. Being a poet takes courage, otherwise everyone would write.

    Thank you Joie — saying what I wish to say.

  5. Anne Hendricks Says:

    knowing you when i was just a little girl was pretty inspiring….i always saw you in a crazy , no fucking rules light. Now your poetry has been passed around in my circle out here in olympia WA and i realize what a small world this is. l hope you reach out and find me – love anne

  6. Mary-Marcia Casoly Says:

    Raw, it was your voice that I heard and the energy that vibrates out from your body that first time. Rare to really wake up sometimes at poetry readings. You’re one of the few. Thank you Joie.

  7. Nadja MAtisoff Says:

    Goodbye Joie,
    My heart breaks that your Voice has been stilled, stolen from us with such finality this time.
    And yet I hear you now, in my heart and in my head, while this pain of loss is still so raw.
    You are one of the immortals, you will never truly leave us, and, if you choose, you will be back.

  8. Thanks for publishing this. At a Day of the Dead poetry reading tonight in Oakland, I recited this poem in honor of Joie’s birthday.

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