Terrance Hayes

My Life as a Hummer

My life as a hummer followed my life
as a gas of complex and commonplace
observances concerning, for example:
Pathos, martyrs, enemies, and ruin.
I had not visited Detroit, but I knew
the road there touched eccentrics
differently. I became a maker of sounds
as abstract as kittens in a box taped shut.
The hum had always been in me.
Where once any tune was a tongue slapped
syllable, any tune came to be an insatiable
yuck. Whatever cannot be said
when being suffocated, can be hummed
fairly easily. I devoted myself to sumptuous
moos and Hallelujahs. Look around you:
only the absence of certain people suggests
you did not sleep the whole journey.
All else is machinery that seems to be saying
“Destroy.” It makes me remember the last time
I was in Detroit I thought of jumping
through a window of a hotel’s thirteenth floor.
I felt I had fallen like a ladder into a plot
of saggy flowers. I felt like the crest-fallen
letters of the Mo-town marquee half spelling
the name of David Ruffin a man born,
but not buried in Whynot, Mississippi.
I fell like a letter from a sack of fan mail
Declaring: “Dear David, come back to Detroit,
your notes are being overwhelmed by the sound
of guzzling!” I am like anyone: truck and whatever
is run over by the truck. Ask me about hunger,
and I will hum something very unlikely.