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      Beethoven knew external music eluded him whenever meteor showers or burn victims from a nearby barn fire screamed at him from all directions without making a sound. A jellied hand, a cloven toe, a bandaged shoulderblade, or lightning’s crack at the back of every headache should have been enough to make anyone curious, but he could not, beyond his own heartbeat, hear what was happening to him. He’d already given up listening for a katydid’s tympanic legs scratching underneath August’s dry leaves, a salamander’s slithering exit suctioned through a vertical flute’s mouth-high octaves, even a stone’s subtle tumble after heavy flooding from torrential rains kept flipping and sliding it further and further downstream in a viola’s dream. Those handclapped blackbirds bursting their sudden flight off his raised eyebrows finally got his attention. Not to mention pieces of his body crawling away in the night where he thought he heard their goodbyes without feeling any difference. Dreams separating from their colors with only the silhouettes of their effective sub-plots to guide him. Thoughts no longer tethered to a planet believing itself special because of its human habitation. Everything more sacred than him and him knowing it. More sacred than those who believe they do no wrong at the expense of every other living organism on the planet. Religions precluding them by forcing them to don ritualistic costumes that no moon, ring or methane crystal this side or that of the universe would ever recognize except as those messy bits of carbon smeared when swept up after all they’ve become.

--Paul B. Roth


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