Moving Pictures – A Poem about Deafness by Martyn Brown


One face at a time
Keep the subject well lit
No shadow or obstacle
To mar a clear headshot
The challenge can now begin

The context is all
Peripheral vision
Adding gesture and meaning
Drawing the eyes inside
To highlight the vocal point

Naked or pierced
Painted pillar box red
Perpetual motion lips
Throwing shapes at random
To lead me a merry dance

Catch the words at birth
Decode any pattern
Of dialect and accent
All in a split second
While sizing up the next wave

One butter finger
And I am in the dark
My line is disconnected
Or re-routed onto
A different train of thought

Survival instinct
Eat and not be eaten
Hunger for information
The skill to feed off scraps
Yet feast at the same table

A silent talkie
Or foreign language film
Moving pictures brought to life
Each one tells a story
Of hope that I can belong


Martyn Brown
From the UK, Martyn Brown is a deaf grandad in a hearing family. He regularly speaks for the National Deaf Children’s Society and currently chairs a local group. Martyn relies on digital aids, lipreading and is a black-belt in the Deaf Nod. Martyn regularly writes poetry for The Limping Chicken, a deaf awareness news site based in the UK.


7 thoughts on “Moving Pictures – A Poem about Deafness by Martyn Brown

  1. So well written – thank you so much for sharing this. I can relate to all of it… this kind of self-accommodation is so much more dimensional than I think some people realize!

  2. “A sniper’s lament” could be a description of the first verse, certainly. I wanted to grab the attention of the reader without giving too much away. The subject matter is of course lip-reading. A sniper needs patience, concentration and a high level of skill, so I suppose you can draw those parallels.
    The poem isn’t a lament. It’s about celebrating the skill of lipreading and how millions of people rely on it to survive.

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