Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Election by Rhonda Pettit

Sometimes “all” that poetry can do is to ask the important questions, as does this meditation by Rhonda Pettit of Erlanger, Kentucky, whose book Riding the Wave Train will be out soon from Dos Madres Press.




There is something to say.
There is so much of something to say.
Are we the ones to say it?
Would a whisper do?

There is so much being said.
Having said, so much more to know,
then more to say. Who says?
Who knows? Who listens?
Would a whisper do?

From the quiet of screens and pages
from far away images of faces
from versions of ourselves
our updates, our lost ones,
from behind the grid’s

What are we selling, buying, hating?
(In what are we in love?)
What are we screaming
to our circle?

All is not said
in the game of hide-n-say.
How shall we be saying it?
Would a whisper do?

Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!
Do the words fathom themselves?
Do they reach down to the word table
or run off the surface eroding?
Will they leave a claw in the trap
of yin and yang?

and still the saying.
Haven’t we said it all?
Aren’t we ourselves a saying?
If more must be said,
would a whisper do?


Starting from scratch
grunt     vowel      syllable
sprout up the ancient trees of language
people hung on a word
zero one zero one
towering babble of gods

It is too much   //   not enough

What is right?
What is left worth saying?
Don’t we all come down to breath:
the dawn re-dawning?
We feel it around us
We feel it within us
Blood singing the joy
or drumming to the sorrow of bones.
What the words? How shall the voice?
Would a whisper do?

Two lips
close to a body, an ear,
the breath of words heard and felt –
sweet, pungent, or stale the breezes.
The body knows

The living inside us listens.

Still the saying, still the question:
Would a whisper do?

Rhonda Pettit

Join us for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project Reading on Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, Over the Rhine


Author: Pauletta Hansel

Pauletta Hansel is a poet, memorist, teacher and editor. She was Cincinnati's first Poet Laureate from April 2-16-March 2018. Pauletta is author of six poetry collections, Plaindrome (Dos Madres Press, 2017; winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award), Tangle (Dos Madres Press, 2015), The Lives We Live in Houses (Wind Publications, 2011), What I Did There (Dos Madres Press, 2011), First Person (Dos Madres Press, 2007) and Divining (WovenWord Press, 2002). Her poetry has been featured recently in journals including Talisman, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Appalachian Journal, Atlanta Review, Postcards Poems and Prose and Still: The Journal, and anthologized in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia; Motif: Come What May; and Motif: All the Livelong Day. Pauletta leads community poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond, and has served as Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in her native Kentucky. She is a co-editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.

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