The Sunday Poem: Liza Wolff-Francis... American Noise

Somehow the noise of America seems timeless. "Can you spare some change?" resonates through much of the 20th century. And here we are in the 21st. Self-help slogans are everywhere. We listen for the soul of our country somewhere in this mix of verbal traffic.

Liza Wolff-Francis is a poet, writer and clinical social worker. She is an MFA student at Goddard College and has been published in Earthships Anthology, Albuquerque Almanac 2009, Pitkin Review, Border Senses and the forthcoming Adobe Walls Anthology. She has performed her work in and around New Mexico and in 2008, competed on the Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team in Madison, Wisconsin.

American Noise

On the third day God created America.
He began with rough fingers,
prints worn from broom stick,
pulled cotton, and corn.
Stretched flesh into limbs
that form cannonballs and swords.
Gave me breasts and muscles
to carry babies and lumber.
The breeze of his tongue
whispered into eardrums
“Love - Share.”

But American noise will drown you out.

Please hold on until the train
comes to a complete stop.
No loitering. Can you spare some change?
What time is it? Turn off your cell phones.
Another day another dollar.
Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

Last night I heard one homeless man
slap another out of park bench slumber.
Fingerprints on cheek.
“Get outta here man, or I’ll make you wish
you never saw me again!”
The ring of sting slap anger
stomped away on pavement

Light bulbs shine 60 watts on TV dinners
and blue light specials, happy face bargains-
two for three dollars.
He made five toes on each foot to walk through voices
Can you help me out man?
Can you help me out man?
God made ears- day three didn’t see,
but would tune out the cries of others,
rather than hear them with hands that need.

--Liza Wolff-Francis

Submissions for The Sunday Poem are always welcome. Email

Views: 114

Comment by Margaret Randall on August 29, 2010 at 8:27am
Wow, this poem has everything! Terrific way to wake up on a Sunday morning, as always, thanks to Jon... Jon, thank you for this Sunday Poem, which has become the best kind of institution... and Liza, thanks for this powerful poem.
Comment by Barelas Babe on August 29, 2010 at 8:53am
I just love the way you've captured the cacophony of everyday life in this poem and the contrast with the deliberate pace of creation. This is a wonderful poem.
Comment by Ben Moffett on August 29, 2010 at 10:18am
Poetry in motion man, er, that is...Liza. I love the term "spare change." -- "Like these two dimes in my pocket are 1943 vintage and keepsakes, this third one is for the parking meter, but this Roosevelt dime, well, it's a spare, take it. No, it's yours, I won't need it, honestly." Margaret and The Babe got it exactly right. Kudos to Jon, too. The poem is my Sunday sermon and always of superior quality. By the way, I like that Bird of Paradise behind you. The prettiest member of the pea family. It should have been the state flower.
Comment by bg on August 29, 2010 at 9:27pm
Another great contribution to the Sunday basket, passed from one to the next. Thank you.
Comment by Richard V on August 30, 2010 at 8:38am
another great addition to the collection of Sunday Morning poems. a good job expressing how so many of us feel. and a timely rebuttal to Beck-a-palooza!
Comment by cc on August 30, 2010 at 8:53pm
Neat documenting of what you are seeing, Lisa, and tying it into a very home-grown gestalt of Genesis/
Farmland/Civil War (or so it seems to me), as well as connecting with your capacities, "Gave me breasts and muscles/to carry babies and lumber." this line connected me to what seems like you.


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