from Spies in the Living House

by Joseph Harrington

Author’s Note: The following are excerpts from a longer poem that is a “reading-through” of transcriptions of the utterances of “voice-entities,” collected via radio and magnetic tape in Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead by Konstantin Raudive Ph.D. (Gerrards Cross, UK: Colin Smythe, 1971). Excerpts are sampled, rearranged, rewritten, misheard, and combined with similar utterances; other phrases or lines are added by the present author. All of this as the poem dictated.   — JH


Mother is here
Mother is in the room
Mother is on the tape
Let mother through

Mother is sick
Here mother cries
Over her lost child
cries your mother

Terrible forces array
against you — hold on!
Mother unites here

The moon is clear
Don’t you see mother?
Mother is strong
We understand — step in

I cannot sing for you
Do not give in
in big things only

Mother, the first norm
Mother, the second norn
Mother, farewell
we wait in the present


You are given two
Who cries for the other one

Here is your sister
Believe in your sister —

Once again she
cries, once again says

Leader, I am naked
My nerves could not stand —

I very small. You speak.
I know how to speak

There are many of us
Cling firmly to this earth

Light the fire     the bridge
is here     The little one

is passive, Dear, and radar
distorts the rhyme

Ready, even without
Truth, I am ready in the

Ninth house     Here is
gaiety — I will try to exist


Wild one you
pray on the lawn
That’s right shoeless

I grew up Outside
I have been standing
very long time

Death is nothing
I am recuperating
This is how you

fixed it — follow —
You are a little bit

You have the number
Speak through
At night we are always

fearful and nobody dares
There is yearning here
In the morning it is strict

The day is terrible
but taken away
Death is a real idea


Look, she is packing parcels for you
She is looking through the dowry

I am always free she says meaning
I am here I am here give bread

The Professor of Non-Existence says
the body is the evidence of the head

Here are no longer few the thoughts
I leave cowering

The connection is steaming
Poor thing, he can’t hear


Do you think Nietzsche
is a commendable being?
An ethereal being.
What was he thinking?

Weak is the subconscious:
Jung is tied, he is lonely.
Talk via radio? You
are the door

out of defensive
positions. Publicize.
It is still autumn;
fashions are terribly vain.

Telephone with restraint,
Comrade. Here is here is
here it is the poor bridge;
Too long time is the sign.

Are you sleeping, poor
leader? One timely call —
does one fight?

There is no transmission —
it is a mess there:
one will get Kennedy.
Radio on earth is scandalous;
you speak on command.

Terribly hot, terrible hurry —
we can see you going home.
We have many sparks;
we are singing on the A Train;
we must have a sense of humor.

The Führer says
You are a girl here,
or else you’re thrown out.


A multitude of voices:

Dear friends, we are thousands:
Olga, who ironed your collars
Pastor Diko, lilac again,
the exiled bishop
We, Gerda died just now, your Gerda
everywhere. Love Gerda!
And Irene whom you have lost.
Your Irene exists. Over here!
We are outside here.

Do you love me?
Do you hear us?
You knew me.
You remain.
I am alone and you
without evening —
the bridge, please!
We are looking
all over the place for
human beings

You needed death,
you angel,
you bird.
Incense is enough:
the soul calls a halt.
Leave it, my skeptic,
it is sufficient with the music.

We are standing in the corner with you.
We come beaten to you.
Where are you, dear?
Why are you attracting?
How can you hover in the cupboard?
We are going home through the radio.
Where do you want to go, son?


We are on the ship
We are spies in the living house
We are here in the room
We are the mad ones here

The night itself is sleeping
But I hope you can hear
this microphone voice
Do you? We hear you

We can see you boy,
you are sleeping.
Those that think of us help us
Weak you work with seeming
Still too early, this deed

of the future     Transmit!
It is to your advantage
Your name is hidden
inside every line


Confidence! Have Confidence! Faith. Nevertheless, believe!
If you believe, I will stay.     Skepticism, the spoiler —
Can doubt. Was tired. How cold! To hell with the scientists!

Yesterday was well done. Do be confident! You will stir up the pond!
You see to it! Don’t fret! Don’t cry! There are no people.
No attentive people, that is.     We are here to help you

I come to your aid — defend against brutal attack
We want to help you. Hold the wavelength, Brother!
A conference of the greatest mistakes. We managed. Now cure

yourself. Await the end of the endeavor. Wait another year!
Why are you raging? To convince with texts
To convince with texts will not succeed. You can still use Monday.

You cannot sleep yet: a great responsibility. The curtain is your duty
It is your duty to lift the curtain. Keep it to yourself! Keep it
yourself, keep it for yourself. Don’t rush! Don’t give up the text!

Je répète: You can still use Monday.


Being alive imperils you:
here is the gate —
walk through, walk through

Hunger divides the world
Mankind should wash out its mouth
with the wolves’ wolf

The wolf loves the night
the night where you are
lonely listening

“Good night” is a warning, too


Lord of hunger, Our father
mentions: hello, we are in flames
but there is no devil here
there is no cream     the money
can be given to the shades

Believe us we are the future
ones; here one bows the head
before the new existence.
The soul exists or you are hearing
the reverse of the soul, its impression
talking after the image is laid.

The good bread, good coffee,
good schnapps     souls in heaven
always thirst.     Where
Where are the guests?

You will serve as host, here
where cuckoos do not call
through silver birches; though
everywhere is spring we miss
twittering of birds.
O what the name of that flower?
Give us the voice and we know

We know all about change
the time-free anti-world, we
sow the seed of bridges,
the right bridge in the heart.
Fog smothers a lent light

They tell you Release! For what
purpose did you visit?
Even heaven has a customs house
but no one ever leaves the world


There are no slave-camps here
O yes there are slaves here!
You have seen death
bind death     obey death

Things are tough here — no
it is not quite that — we
are not permitted to say
Rules are eternal

Where is the mail
We don’t have any mail
that Lethe myth
What has clothed us?
What with? Here
the world pleases
but we still miss the birches

One cries     one screams
one laughs one celebrates
one is bad one is mad
in the city of the dead
there is no time
but many moments

We are liquidated
We are naked, that is our law
Now we are human beings

Finally, the child shines,
the inhuman girl
sleeps still

Joseph Harrington is the author of Of Some Sky (BlazeVOX Books 2018); Things Come On (an amneoir) (Wesleyan UP 2011); Goodnight Whoever’s Listening (Essay Press 2015); and the critical work Poetry and the Public (Wesleyan UP 2002). His creative work has appeared in BAX: The Best American Experimental Writing 2016, The Rumpus, Hotel America, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. He teaches at the University of Kansas (Lawrence).

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