Fred Babbin

(1925 / Chicago)

Am I O.K., Jack?

Our heating system speaks
but I can't understand the words – yet.
And the the toilet flush sounds like
advertising on TV,
but I don't hear the words yet.
And when water in the kitchen sink
goes down the drain, I hear sounds,
but I still don't hear the words.
And sometimes there are high-pitched bells,
without a song,
That's left to the little man
who sings to me
when everything is quiet
He can sing anything
I think of, or don't think of.
And if all of this is fantasy, so be it,
But I haven't heard the words yet.

Submitted: Thursday, December 06, 2007
Edited: Thursday, April 28, 2011

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  • Michael Tugendhat (7/18/2010 11:48:00 AM)


    This work resonated strongly with me. As I suffer from mental illness it hit a note that speaks true to me (though this was probably me reading too far into it) . I'm unsure fully of your intention, but the work was well crafted.

    Michael (Report) Reply

  • Michael Gale (5/3/2009 6:44:00 PM)

    The toilet went whoosh...
    Aft'wards the man gruntned, aft, he pushed.

    There was a sound, that went splash...
    What was eaten too much, was corned beef and hash.

    Did you hear, the porcelin toilet crack? ...
    Was it caused from an over filling attack?

    Did ye dropp a brick? ...
    Did it break, instead of stick?

    Oh well, can you tell? ...
    How much fatter, had I to swell.

    Great write and God bless them all-MJG. (Report) Reply

  • Not a member No 5 (6/28/2008 4:15:00 PM)

    There are messages out there everywhere, and inside too, from every point of the internal universe. You seemed to be attuned to them. Perhaps the language you're listening to isn't burdened with words. Thought provoking poem Mr Babbin which was a genuine pleasure to read. (Report) Reply

  • David Desantis (6/6/2008 1:31:00 PM)

    very interesting write here. I haven't figured out if it's metaphorical or if your actually deaf...either way there is alot to the little man representative of your imagination. And why words specifically? Great write, excellent 10/10 (Report) Reply

  • Gary Witt (1/16/2008 11:45:00 PM)

    Fred: Wasn't there a line in Dr. Strangelove: Are you OK, Jack? Oh, well, never mind. You do point to a dilemma, though: do we continue to listen for the words or do we simply allow ourselves to be entertained by the melody and leave it at that? Or do we go out to Barnes and Noble to try to find a good English-Refrigerator translation dictionary?

    Many thanks,
    G (Report) Reply

  • Janice Windle (12/12/2007 1:09:00 PM)

    Fred, I fully relate to the experience you've so beautifully and rhythmically described here. I also hear these voices - the fridge in particular sings - and occasionally, when under a lot of stress or very tired, I hear the words, or snatches of them. It doesn't worry me and I know that you and I are all right, Jack. This is an original and elegantly simply piece of work that opens up an anxiety in a safe and creative way. (Report) Reply

  • Ivor Hogg (12/9/2007 4:00:00 PM)

    I enjoyed this whimsical but half serious little poem. It is true that domestic appliances make noises which we interpret as communication. ometimes they are clearer in what they mean than fellow humans (Report) Reply

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