Terrible Emmanuel Takes the Stage

Itís a poor stage and dusty. Weak spotlight and smoke in the light. Microphone. Tap tap tap.
This is what everyone born believes they are made to do. Breath over cords. He canít see
inside throat, inside lyric, but he can reach. Not the flame but the candle. Not the wax but
the wick. Music was here from the beginning, just math in the mouth. Anything can sing: a
doorknob, a light bulb, a glass jar. Anything with water inside yields a tone, anything with a
tone is a body. Body dies but tone is immortal. Words donít matter; itís the passing from the
lips. Itís the tickle in your ear. What it touches, dies. Song is the alpha. It has no interest in
omega. The performance is ready to begin. Itís always ready. Come to the brink. Tap tap tap.


Chris Haven is working on a series about Terrible Emmanuel, a cranky, fallible figure who considers himself to be the supreme being. Other Emmanuel poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Sycamore Review, Zone 3, Whiskey Island, Hotel Amerika, Poet Lore, failbetter, and Seneca Review, where they won the Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Prize. He teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.