Friday, March 10, 2006


A Screamer Discusses Methods of Screaming
by James Schevill

We all scream, most of us inside.
Outside is another world.
A neighbor fills her television dinner
With too much pepper and screams.
One woman stabs her door with a sword.
Another, overweight, steps in the shower
And screams, 'Fat! Fat! Fat!'
A man who takes flying lessons
Soars high in the clouds to scream.
Another dives to the bottom of his pool
Where he screams underwater.
A friend cleans his gun, screaming 'Assassin!'
I like an interior, smiling scream.
When you walk past me on the street
I nod my head to you and, smiling, scream.
You never hear me through the smile.
The inside scream has no echo.
Like Schevill, I like an interior, smiling scream, too. I find the people around me prefer that I employ that method of screaming as well.

I think about Schevill's poem sometimes when I walk through downtown Seattle, particularily in the rain. Sometimes I encounter people who scream on the outside. And in a way, I envy them.

Let's face it, screaming is pretty much programmed out of us by the time we reach adulthood. Oh, you are allowed to scream at sporting events and maybe if you are bungee jumping (or plunging off a cliff without a bungee), but screaming per se is discouraged in public places...say on an elevator for instance.

I found it ironic as a child that my father would scream at my brothers and I to shut up when we were shouting and playing. To this day, I do believe he made more noise yelling at us to be quiet than we ever made playing.

I understand, however, the need for quiet. I did, after all, work in a public library for several years while I was in high school and college. I also appreciate not screaming out in church, at funerals or while standing in a peaceful meadow or other pastorial scene (though I do believe yodeling is officially sanctioned screaming in Switzerland since anyplace that echos is exempt from screaming bans).

But I think we have lost something by being civilized and supressing our screams. Once again, I turn to great literature like Horton Hears a Who to help emphasize this point. If you don't know the story you have been living in a cave, but basically, Horton, an elephant with exceptional hearing, can detect a small civilization living on a dust speck. They are the Who's who later become famous in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Horton hears the Who's and everyone thinks he is crazy. They decide to snatch the dust speck (perched on a sprig of clover) from him and boil it. The only thing that can save the Who's is being heard. They collectively scream their primal scream, "We are here, we are here, we are here." But it isn't until the smallest Who, Cindy Who, chimes in with her own yelp that the Who's are heard and their civilization is saved.

So I guess this is a metaphorical cry for everyone to scream...even it is for ice cream. Because every voice matters (even that inner child or those other voices in your head).

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