Title: Whose Cries Are Not Music
y: Linda Benninghoff
Genre: Poetry, Trade Paper, 6X9 
Publisher: Lummox Press (PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733-5301) www.lummoxpress.com
Pages: 108
ISBN: 978-1-929878-95-

Publishing Date: Feb. 2011

Retail: $15 + Shipping

USA $18
Can/Mex $20
World $25

To pay by check, choose appropriate amount and make check out to Lummox
and send to Lummox Press c/o PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733

Hear Linda read the title poem here.


Lao Tzu said, "Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. Do not overdo it." As a chef, I've always loved that, and as a poet, I am always mindful of the edge between the toasted and the burnt. Each poem is like a nation, influence spreading far beyond its words.  Evocation is the best measure of it. So many collections try too hard.  This has a more open-eyed, careful, unforced feeling to it. It is stunning sometimes how Linda's poems achieve their flavor without a lot of complicated verbiage or reference to other works.  The way she weaves landscape, animals, the artifacts of our lives, and emotions is actually an intricate achievement, but in the end, there are poems that make the "I" of the prose a consequence of the world, with a strange belonging, even in sadness, a reverse solipsism, as though the world in fact thinks us up. 

From the introduction by Jim Knowles

In Benninghoff’s Whose Cries Are Not Music she asks “Don’t we in dying reveal who we are?”  With a steadily dealt hand, somewhere east, in a “tinseled diner” she reveals fortune’s deck of splintered seasons; the stray surprise: deer’s blank eyes, a summer gull’s pierced solitude.  These poems “shine brightly. They take the stars away.”

 Maureen Alsop

 Linda Bennninghoff is scrupulously attentive to the underpinnings of living one’s life, whether she’s watching gulls filling the empty sky like numberless dreams (“Gulls”) or capturing the isolation and tenuous connections of relationships, to absorb the many facets of the human condition and give it back to the world with lyric precision. Her work runs wide and deep.

 Barbara Southard

This most appealing Benninghoff offering will catch you unaware when you think you know where she's going (and where you've been) only to discover she has the ability to make being vulnerable cathartic and being honest sheer joy.

Peggy Eldridge-Love, author of You Beckon



A few poems from the book

Snowy Winter

I remember
the praying silence
of the pots in the kitchen
after I washed them.
In April, when we went jogging
you ordered
mango juice from the new
"Don’t worry about the future,
I can always take care of you." you said.
"I feel so frightened when I am alone."

You live by yourself now
in a house with pale furniture.
I live in a place where
the ice closes in on me
in winters which are like a world shutting down.

My Christmas cards to you show
pictures of reindeer,
children opening packages
under trees,
skaters at Rockefeller Center.
their faces red like apples.

The creamy snow extends even to the water,
where there are wrinkles and marks
--frozen over
from Lloyd to Cold Spring Harbor.
The curving gulls
keep saying the words you spoke,
yet there is no food for them here.
They rest in the empty air
hungry like me,
as I search
for the prints of winter birds.


Ode to the Sea
after Neruda

rivers mouth you.
kiss you with silver
fish joining.

Whatever is unknown—
that you are.
Fishermen, boats rocking,
dawn smearing red paint over blue,
the evening like a lost cat meowing
for water and food.

I heave myself up against you,
And you are like a crow cawing
its hidden words
on branches, sky.


Whose Cries Are Not Music


I come down to the dark, torn pond

to hear the geese

whose cries are not music, but 

catch in my ears:

the cry of wild birds

who can make only one sound

and put into that sound

wing-beat, empty marshes,

clouds and their quests

for home.


They have traveled miles,

are far from earth

when I hear them,

but I think of a child

who has no words

and will cry without stopping.

as if everything

must begin in pain.


I can spend my whole life

healing it,

but find in the end

that love itself contains pain

though I do not give up feeling it,

as today I do not give up

hearing these geese

whose cries are constant,

and I pause

as their shrillness softens

and the light fades

and the night comes with silence.