One Voice

“One voice” is one of the cardinal sins of writing. It’s when each of your characters use the same turns of phrase. When each of them are endless quip machines, hurling clichés in place of banter.

In this poem “one voice” is used to describe the shared experience of living in Minneapolis. It’s about coming of age with the same peers. Living in the same city, going to the same house parties, living out of the same coffee shops and bars. It’s about the regional accent that extends beyond words. One voice, is how we walk, how we dress, where we go and what we do. But it’s not about uniformity. It’s about isolation. It’s about the effect that people and places can have on your identity.

The meta tag for the file says it’s from 2005. That would make me 24 when I wrote it.

One Voice

We speak in one voice
One accent swapping vowels
Our “I”s become “E”s
We say “Melk”, we say “Pellow”
We are the ventriloquist dummies
That the city speaks through
We call carbonated beverages “Soda”
We call romantic interests “Prospects”

We park on the boulevard
With sprinklers beneath our tires
We tumble through porch-lit thresholds
Where one voice is the common language

We know that the night is young
That we’re getting too old for it
We choke down coffin nails
To kill a couple of minutes off the clock

We walk in one step
Shoes synchronized to one beat
Heart strings dangle behind us
Like so many loose ends
Left foot “She loves me”
Right foot “She loves me not”
Marionettes hanging from street lamps
Threads swinging in the breeze

Each building on the One Avenue
An outlet store for the one job
The one career, the one profession
Our diplomas are wallpaper
Night stand ornaments
Microscopic dots on résumé attachments

Every citizen of Babylon has the same job
Make the others fall down

We ache for one thing
Lean toward it as petals blossom to the sun
We are one compliment away
From feeling beautiful
One long gaze away
From appreciating our reflections
One stroke of the cheek
From consenting to photographs
One four letter L word
From fight or flight

We are atoms colliding in the ether
We steal glances from one another
Count faces like they were sheep
Wake up wondering if we ever fell asleep

No one here will ever have to ask
“What are you thinking?”
It’s the same thought
From the same lips
It’s one breath
It’s one voice

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