Dave Bayley of the band Glass Animals at the end of their "Dreamland Tour" concert at Alexandra Palace in London, England, November 19, 2021
Dave Bayley of Glass Animals at the end of their “Dreamland Tour” concert at Alexandra Palace in London, England, November 19, 2021

Oh, hey! Another post so soon? Who dis?

While I await the publication of my next short story, I thought I’d share a poem I “published” on social media back in July. I don’t know why I never put it here before.

In early June, I attended two virtual writing conventions over the same weekend. I don’t really recommend it, by the way, but I did end up enjoying myself. One of those conventions was the Indiana University Writers’ Conference. I’ve attended the conference in the past and was so happy they decided to do it virtually this year.

I learned a lot from the daily afternoon classes, especially the poetry classes taught by Tiana Clark. One was devoted entirely to ekphrastic poetry. Simply put, an ekphrastic poem is written as a description of and a response to a piece of art, usually a painting, a photograph, or a sculpture. Tiana, though, challenged us to try responding to other types of art, like music or movies. I took this to heart and wrote an ekphrastic poem based on a music video, specifically my favorite music video by my favorite band, Glass Animals.

In order to understand the poem, it’s best to watch the music video first.

The song is entitled “It’s All So Incredibly Loud.” And below is my attempt to respond to it.

The title for an ekphrastic poem based on a Glass Animals music video. The title reads: 
“It’s All So Incredibly Loud (Official Video)” by Glass Animals, An Inspired Ekphrastic Poem by Amanda Cook. The title of the poem floats next to an underwater scene with a purple floating head wearing glasses above a purple pineapple.
The ekphrastic poem begins:
You’re isolated 
In your black shirt
Black trousers
Black dreamland
Pacing a diving board wide enough for one
A mist swirls about your tousled head
A passing heatwave
What truth did you spill, Dave,
As you gaze at the turquoise ripples?
It hurt, the truth,
But which one?

Did you dip your toes in first?
Did you test the waters?
Did you try to keep yourself pristine?
Or did you jump,
Wrinkling those crisp trousers
On your way down?
The poem continues:
You sing a lingering note
Synth chords bolstering your voice
All quiet
Make the leap, they whisper.
With tragic eyes behind round spectacles
You croon in high tenor
What was it you said, Dave,
That pains you so?
Three seconds of silence
Between your truth and theirs

If you break a heart in
Three seconds of void—
And no one hears it but you—
Did it even make a sound?
The poem continues:
You linger on the diving board
How expansive is the
Black hole of your waiting?
The throbbing bass reverbs in my chest and
You bounce
Once, twice
Do you fear swallowing your pain
Like so much pool water?
A double pain for a single heartbreak

You jump
But it’s no leap of faith
You chose to un-dam your words
And damned yourself in the choosing
The poem continues:
In slow motion
With your lilting lyrics
Swirling in my ears
The water consumes you
First your toes
Then your crisp trousers
Your black shirt
Your arms, crucifixion posed
Your heart
You’re in over your head, Dave.
The poem continues:
What did you sacrifice?
What moment brought you to this moment?
What finally made you open to the world?
What you sing
Gives me pause
What I want to say
Gives me pause
There will be
Those three seconds
Of deafening emptiness
On the other side
Do I spill my truth into the black hole?

Not yet
The poem ends:
I fear the void that consumes
The reverb of my words.
I fear waiting
As they take their first
Breath on the other side.

Dave Bayley, the lead singer and songwriter for Glass Animals, wrote in the comments for the video:

This entire song is about only three seconds of life. I think most people have been in a position where they have to say something to someone that they know is going to devastate them and change their life forever. It’s about the silence between those words leaving your mouth, and their reaction as those words register and the full weight rolls over them…until they say something back. its probably the most deafening thing I’ve ever experienced. the video is meant to be a physical representation of the build up before that and then the sudden explosion of quiet that seems to last forever.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyx0YftuyDU&list=PL8tkzXKlhGxn8vedFOKUngfcdnz6MV40M&index=11

Dave’s comments resonated with me just as much as the song and the video did. There really is something hard and weighty and almost deafening about that moment between when something’s been said and the response to it. Sometimes, we keep those weighty moments to ourselves, for fear of what the response might be. And sometimes, we’re brave and let the heartbreak occur as it may.

In interviews, Dave has said the title of the song came from the title of one of his favorite books. So, my poem is art responding to art responding to art.

One thing I miss from the Before Times is feeling safe enough to attend live performances. Glass Animals is touring around the world as I write this. I would love to see them in concert someday, but I don’t know when given the current state of things. I was very happy when they decided to live stream through TikTok their concert at the Alexandra Palace in London on November 19. It’s one of the best things to come out of the pandemic, I think: shows and events being made accessible to everyone through live streaming, Zoom meetings, or video recording. The concert was such a lovely way to spend an afternoon, rocking out to my favorite band in my own living room. I screenshotted a few images of the band while they played, because I couldn’t help myself.

We live in the future, y’all, and sometimes, it’s glorious.

Thanks for watching. And listening. And responding to art along with me.

And thanks for reading.

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a writer and stay at home mom who lives in a southern Indiana woods with her spouse, kids, and one clingy dog. In the Before Times (and sometimes even now), she could/can be found helping out with her kids' school, catching up on her toppling TBR pile, playing games with her friends, hanging out at virtual conventions, crying over period dramas, or sewing yet another cosplay. Her second novel, "When We Were Forgotten," was the winner of the 2018 Bronze Medal for Best Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror E-Book from the Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards. She writes short speculative fiction that can be found at various markets and here on her blog.

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