Alden Nowlan

Rookie (25 January 1933 - 27 June 1983 / Stanley, Nova Scotia)

Broadcaster's Poem

Poem by Alden Nowlan

I used to broadcast at night
alone in a radio station
but I was never good at it
partly because my voice wasn't right
but mostly because my peculiar
metaphysical stupidity
made it impossible
for me to keep believing
their was somebody listening
when it seemed I was talking
only to myself in a room no bigger
than an ordinary bathroom
I could believe it for a while
and then I'd get somewhat
the same feeling as when you
start to suspect you're the victim
of a practical joke
So one part of me
was afraid another part
might blurt out something
about myself so terrible
that even I had never until
that moment suspected it

This was like the fear
of bridges and other
high places: Will I take off my glasses
and throw them
into the water, although I'm
half blind without them?
Will I sneak up behind
myself and push?

Another thing:
As a reporter
I covered an accident in which a train
ran into a car, killing
three young men, one of whom
was beheaded. The bodies looked
boneless, as such bodies do
More like mounds of rags
and inside the wreckage
where nobody could get at it
the car radio
was still playing

I thought about places
the disc jockey's voice goes
and the things that happen there
and of how impossible it would be for him
to continue if he really knew.

Comments about Broadcaster's Poem by Alden Nowlan

  • Douglas Scotney (8/10/2015 10:49:00 PM)

    surrealism is saying something totally inappropriate
    in the presence of someone dying in such a way
    as being hit by a train
    instead of being caught short
    not knowing what to say(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Kim BarneyKim Barney (8/10/2015 8:24:00 AM)

    Nolan died in 1983, so I can't address my comment to him, but he didn't really make the grammar mistake in the poem, did he? It must be the fault of whoever typed the poem into the PH computer bank.
    Line nine should say
    THERE was somebody listening
    instead of
    THEIR was somebody listening.(Report)Reply

    Tim A(12/27/2017 8:16:00 AM)

    Since he was night desk editor before cringe-worthy headlines were the norm I doubt it was his error. Speaking of, his surname remains NoWlan.....

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • John Richter (8/10/2015 8:18:00 AM)

    This is unique and completely awesome! A voice on the radio waves.... where does it end up?(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Ramesh T ARamesh T A (8/10/2015 3:36:00 AM)

    Modern day broadcasting system is such one does work without knowing the reaction of audience. It is well expressed about this nature of work of broadcasting well by the poet here!(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010