Tinnitus: Two Poems

When I first realized the high-pitched ringing, humming noises in my ears seemed to be constant and showed no signs of going away, I went to the doctor.  His verdict was far from comforting.  “Ah yes.”  He said.  “You’ve got Tinnitus.”  Seeing the lack of comprehension on my face, he quickly followed this up with “There’s no cure for it.”  That was over thirty years ago.  So, I’ve had no alternative but to accept the fact that I have to live with Tinnitus as a constant presence in my life.  I’ve adjusted to it, to a certain extent, over the years.  When I’m outdoors, the tinnitus tends to blend into the various background sounds, so, thankfully, I’m not aware of it most of the time.  Indoors, however, I only cease to be conscious of it if I’m fully focused upon an activity, or if it’s submerged by various loud noises from electrical appliances.  I’m sure the symptoms of Tinnitus vary with each individual, so I hesitate to categorize its severity in my particular case.  I would describe it as fairly acute, however; suffice it to say that, if I had no means of distraction from it, it would drive me crazy in a fairly short time.  This created a slight dilemma for me, when I decided I wanted to write about Tinnitus in my poetry.  I soon realized that thinking about it, and writing about it, only made the affliction more acute than it had been in the first place.  You can understand, then, that these two short poems will almost certainly be my last word on the subject!


I have not known silence
for over thirty years.
Only a high-pitched humming,
a baleful buzzing.
Parody of singing,
a resonant ringing,
in my ears.

I remember that night;
the “post-punk” band.
I shall not name them,
but I damn them, and blame them.

I knew something was wrong,
when I felt the sound;
started to panic,
looking around.
People clutched their ears,
fell to the ground.

I walked to the exit;
began to run.
But already too late;
the damage was done.

It was, for silence,
a final death knell.
I entered the portals
of a kind of Hell.
My ears resounded,
like an ill-struck bell …

And, over thirty years later, they still do.


Outdoors, it can be quelled,
by traffic noise,
or street-life chatter.

Indoors is its domain.
Only high-speed spinning
of the washing machine,
or vibrant humming
from the fridge,
threaten its reign.

It is always there,
eager for my attention.
When it is quiet:
evenings, night time,
it swells, booming,
clamouring, insistent;
until I fall into
blissful oblivion.

I can survive,
if I strive to ignore it.
What I’m doing now,
I know I shall rue.
For when I think,
when I write about it,
It’s the worst thing
I can possibly do!


1 Comment

Filed under Poetry

One response to “Tinnitus: Two Poems

  1. My wife has Tinnitus. She has told me of the symptoms. Your description really brings the meaning home.


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