Century Speech

The readymade voices of the century speak.
People are crossing streets, lights are turning red or green, universities spring out
of nothing, the planets orbit their stars, people breathe in and out, ships
dock and load, things are flashing and clanging in the near distance, a cashier
clocks out for the end of her shift.

Medications exist for these voices.
The voices say, lady, lady. Lady. Gentlemen. Lady.
They say, good morning dear.

Each voice has an almost syntax box attached. For instance one which generates and

stylish of British is its fulfilled. Or Chinese to first states boundary Europe K.

At first only the suggestion of voice.
A body hiding behind a curtain.
The insistence on naming and the insistence on names.

It’s Mildred again. Will you ever contact me?

It’s Mildred. It’s Sophia. It’s Mrs. Mary Kaiou. It’s Blessing Williams. It’s Bonaventure

Kone. It’s Gomes C. Deirdre. The syntax boxes almost get it right. Annita George.

Dear Mildred how much would the century like to help you.
Lady lady lady lady.

A few pills go down a throat. A black cat jumps onto a fence and walks it. Apples ripen.
We’ve been tallying up the voices. We’re close to getting a full count. We’re going to put

them in their places. We’re going to register minutely. We’re about to take their
measure. We want to know what they mean when they say lady, or, for example,

Front page image by Udo Herzog.

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Eireann Lorsung

About the Author

Éireann Lorsung is the author of Music For Landing Planes By and Her Book (forthcoming 2013), both from Milkweed. Other work appears or is forthcoming in Burnside Review, Colorado Review, DIAGRAM, Women's Studies Quarterly, The Collagist, and Bluestem. She edits 111O (111oh.com) and co-runs MIEL, a micropress (miel-books.com).
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