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  • How to Hear a Stutter, and: Stutterfied
  • Adam Giannelli (bio)

How to Hear a Stutter

Do not say spit it out.I'm not chewing. I'm humming.

Do not interrupt.Bask in palpitation.

Do not look away.The eyes are eloquent.

Do not intercede.Presumption tapers.

Do not laugh. Nothingis more human than a tremble.

Do not mimic. The miming of frailtyis the mastering of frailty, and mastery is not frail.

Do not say stop and start again.A sentence is serendipitous.

Do not interrupt.I have my own walls already.

Do not say stop and start again.A word is a stairwell.

Do not hang up.Make silence your envoy.

Do not ask if I've forgotten my name.A name is not an order. It is an invitation. [End Page 68]

Do not intercede. Here is my voice,made of strain and spittle.

Listen. Hereis my voice, seismic.

Patience.Here is my nonvoice.


beneath disfluencyI say mosaic

beneath disorderI say texture say my own species of sigh

beneath distortionI say a gratuitous greenery

beneath impedimentI say a ghostly percussion a soft marginalia

beneath impuritiesI say the body as minute hand as calendar

beneath impairmentI say stuttered

beneath delayI say migratory say cloud shift

beneath deviationI say filigree say the body as city lights as cinema

beneath deficiencyI say innocent

beneath abnormalI say the air of elsewhere say bubbles and buoyant kernels [End Page 69]

beneath aberrationI say a single commotion say quartet

beneath abrasiveI say my own lunar surface

beneath prolongationI say prelude say like standing under a marquee

beneath repetitionsI say erratic as freckles as rain against the window

beneath blocksI say cliffhangers say steeped and slowly poured

beneath unableI say here harnessing a space

beneath untreatedI say attention say the breadcrumbs between us

beneath unsungI say here beside you say tendril [End Page 70]

Adam Giannelli

Adam Giannelli is the author of Tremulous Hinge (University of Iowa Press, 2017), winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize, the translator of a selection of prose poems by Marosa di Giorgio, Diadem (BOA Editions, 2012), and a person who stutters. His poems and essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Washington Post Magazine, New England Review, Ploughshares, Yale Review, and elsewhere.