Curtis Robbins


...obtaining nirvana is like locating silence
            Jack Kerouac

There have been times

	of questioning

		the state of my being.

The impropriety

	of my individuation

		in the hearing society -

			conform or else?

	Should I be different

	or beg to differ

		would I not

		be a part

		of this whole?

	Am I

	by nature

	so different

	by the silence

	it mutters?

Is deafness

like death 

	so remote

	yet so imminent? 

* * *

Ludwig von Beethoven

....your Beethoven is most unhappy, and at strife with nature and Creator. The latter I have cursed for exposing His creatures to the smallest chance, so that frequently the richest buds are thereby crush and destroyed. Only think that the noblest part of me, my sense of hearing is very weak...[and] that I fear that my hearing will not improve....

            a letter written on June 1, 1800,

Your temporal bone is gone
   stolen from your disheveled bones -
     skull in smithereens.

Grave robbers took it
like savage prospectors
in a gold rush
claiming it to be yours -
blood, entrails,
soul, et al.

Your temporal bone is gone -
they must've thought it
like the miracle of the shroud -
sounds die
in vain.

Curtis Robbins was born in New York City and is a graduate of Gallaudet University where he taught for 10 years. He has taught - among other things - American Sign Language and Deaf Culture for 40 years prior to his retirement in 2007. Robbins has published several of his poems in The Tactile Mind, a publication focused on Deaf authors. His other poems also are found in three anthologies of works by Deaf writers and poets, No Walls of Stone (1982), The Deaf Way II Anthology (2002), and Deaf American Poetry (2009).