Song to the Stutterer

by Jim Abbott

The human voice
Our method and manner of speech
Our primary means of communicating
A simple thing, is it not?
It most certainly is not
A most complicated process it is indeed
Involving the brain, the tongue, the lips, the breath, and the vocal cords
All of them working in perfect harmony
In synchronicity
For most, they do work in harmony
For most, speech comes as second nature
It happens without forethought
One has something to say
And one says it
Though not for us
We were never afforded such luxury
Constantly, we must think about what it is that we have to say
Our minds racing three steps ahead to devise a plan of attack
Searching out the trials and the troubles which lie ahead
For troubles always lie ahead
Around every corner
Lurking in the shadows
No matter what raging rivers you've crossed
Nor menacing mountains you've climbed
To get to this point in time
Countless, endless, trials and tribulations still lie ahead
And they will always
Such is our lot in life
Despair not though
Could it not be worse?
Would you rather be without sight,
unable to see the newborn babe?
Or the sun rise?
Or sun set?
Or the picturesque forest?
Or the beauty of the night sky,
the countless millions of stars twinkling in the blackness
Would you rather be without sound,
unable to hear the water cascading gently down a river stream?
Or the song of the songbirds?
Or the wind chimes tinkling in the breeze
of a warm southern summer evening?
Or the spray of the surf?
Or the voice of the small child say
"I Love You?"
Or the voice of your lover say
"I Love You?"
Would you rather be without feel,
without touch,
unable to caress the soft skin of the small child?
Or caress the soft skin of your lover?
Would you rather be without smell,
would you not miss the aroma of the cracklin' campfire?
Or that of newly mowed grass?
Or of the bread, fresh from the baker's oven?
Or of the rose?
Would you rather be without motion,
unable to move your limbs?
To never walk
nor run
nor jump
nor dance?
Would you rather be without thought,
unable to think and reason?
To never ponder,
nor question,
nor wonder,
nor plan,
nor fantasize,
nor dream,
nor hope?
Or would you rather be without speech entire,
to be void of voice?
Never to sing,
never to shout?
To never know what it was like to say to the small child
"I Love You?"
Or to say to your lover
"I Love You?"
Fret not for what you don't have
Relish everyday what it is that you do
For then, the taste of life is far, far sweeter

The human voice
A thing of beauty
But not for us
For we have been told that our voices
Or maybe we have just have imagined that we have been told,
but no matterFor the idea is still there
The idea that those voices that contain our stuttered speech
Are ugly
But are they?
Are they really?

For who is to say what is ugly?And what is beauty?
Is beauty not only in the eye of the beholder
but of the beholdee?
Do we not have a say?
For can one not find beauty
Even in our stuttered voices?
Listen to the rhythmic repetitions
as a stutterer bounces his or her speech along
H-H-H, B-B-B, S-S-S
D-D-D, G-G-G, T-T-T
Sounding in it's own way almost musical
Have you not heard stuttered speech represented in song?
And has it, it that form, not been deemed acceptable?
And has it, in that form, not been called good?
And have millions not sung or chanted along with this pseudo stuttering?
And are songs not beautiful?
And is music not beautiful?
Therefore, if stuttered speech is represented in song,
and if songs are beautiful,
is stuttered speech itself not beautiful?
Why is our manner of speaking accepted when represented in song
but not when it is carried within the spoken word?
Again I ask why?
Who made this determination?
What right did they have?
I challenge the maker of the rules
Think, if you will, of the sound of thunder
Is the sound of thunder not beautiful?
Though thunder brings with it the storm in the sky
And the storm in the sky brings with it lightning
and rain
and floods
and devastation
Yet, is the sound of thunder still not beautiful?
Does not the sound of the stutter bring with it
a kind of storm of the speech?
And has the storm of the speech
not brought with it
its own form of devastation?
Our own personal feelings of devastation
So if the sound of the thunder can be beautiful
Can not the sound of the stutter also be beautiful?
And what of the silence that exists
within a stutterer's stuttering block
Those long pause's between words,
or even individual sounds
Is that silence not beautiful on its own terms?
Does the sound of silence not possess its own unique beauty?
Think of the quiet of a peaceful summer night
The muffled stillness of a freshly fallen snow
Is that sound,
the sound of silence
Not something to glory in?
Explain to me then, the difference?
Is silence not silence?
Therefore, is beauty not beauty?
Must we rely so on the fickle whims of society
that we refuse to see the beauty that does exist everywhere,
within everyone,
within everything?
Must man or woman always believe what he or she is told?
Do we dare not question?
I say we must question!
The masses,
that which is known as "society"
They set the standard for what is considered acceptable
What is considered beautiful
But the masses are oft times WRONG!

The human voice
The weapon of choice for the great orators
Many are those who will say
that because of our inability to achieve
what to them is an accepted level of fluency
That effective public speaking is beyond us
But once again I will say
The many are wrong!
What of the statesman named Churchill?,
what of the actor named Jones?
Surely, one questions not their ability to communicate
As those that do
Would surely be the fool
Yet, there are many others of us

Those with names that most know notWho also command attention when they talk
With voices load and strong and proud and free
And yes, those same voices stutter freely as well
Though no shame nor embarrassment they feel
For they have something to say
And it is of great importance
And they will say it
And the people will listen
They will listen
not to how the words are said,
oh no
They will listen
to the meaning those words carry with them
For they know those words are important as well
They will listen,
they will learn,
they will enjoy
and they will take those words with them
And they will acknowledge the communicator of those words
as a great speaker
They will know that the matter of the manner
in which the words were spoken
mattered not
And they will also realize that the many
are wrong

The human voice
I beg all the perfectly fluent in the world
to step forward
And I believe that everyone will remain still
I beg all the perfectly fluent in the world
to speak up
And I believe that everyone will remain silent
Close your eyes then and listen,
just listen
Say not a word
Listen to the wordings of those that are of the fluent world
Listen to their repetitions of sounds
How many do you count?
Listen to their pauses between words
How many do you count?
Listen to their um's and ah's as they search for words to speak
How many do you count?
Have the numbers you have counted reached the level that we obtain?
No, they have not!
And this I know
I know as well that the stumbling speech of those of the fluent world
is not the same as our stuttered speech
But I also do know that the perfectly fluent man
or the perfectly fluent woman
exists not
That the perfectly fluent man or woman is a myth
Thus the stutterer
whose goal it is to be
completely free from the stutter,
void of any repetitions,
void of any pauses,
void of any ums
or ahs,
is chasing a myth
As that goal
is an unreachable goal
This I also know
Listen to the words of the loud mouth oaf
As well as those of the bragging boar
Listen to the words of those so full of themselves
What do you think is harder on the ear?
The words of the oaf?;
the brags of the boar?
Or the sound of the stutter?
The bragging boar would attempt to convince all who would listen
of their great importance
How the sun rises and sets upon their shoulders
Fancying their own opinions above those of all others
As they are the ultimate expert
on everything
How the value of anything is to be calculated
by how it directly affects
Those are the words of the bragging boar
While the loud mouth oaf
simply drones on and on and on
Speaking out the seemingly never ending story
"Just get to the point" the listener would like to scream
But it would serve no purpose
as the loud mouth oaf would continue
Repeating over and over and over the same tired story
Until the listener themselves
could tell the same story
So many are the times they have heard it
But God bless the stutterer
For the song of the stutterer is concise
and to the point
For we know the value of the spoken word
For we speak,
not because we are in love with the sound of our voice,
but because we have something to say
And thus then, we will say it
So what do you think is really more pleasing to the ear
The words of the oaf?;
the brags of the boar?
Or the sound of the stutter?
God bless the song of the stutterer

The human voice
We know well the power it does possess
For the spoken word is most mighty indeed
Think of all that words can do
They can convey love or hate,
they can soothe or they can anger,
they can hurt
or they can heal,
they can unite us
or tear us apart,
they can bring peace
or they can bring war,
they can bring hope
or they can bring despair,
they can open up our eyes so that we may see the light
or they can blind us like the blackest pitch black night
They can help one feel pride
or make one feel shame

I say this to you then
Despite the difficulties that you face
Be no more ashamed of your most human voice
Understand that there are those far worse off than you
Appreciate that there is beauty to be found everywhere
and in everything
Command the attention of your listener
with the wisdom of the words you say
Worry not of the way you speak them
Know that there are many
who prefer the sound of the stutter
to the words of the oaf
or the brags of the boar
And know that your stuttered voice
is just your own, unique human voice
And know that it is not bad
As it is only human
And can you be anything but human?
And can you speak with anything but your human voice?
For is it not your very own voice?
For is it not your very unique voice?
For is it not your most human voice?

added with permission
November 29, 2001