Poetry Sunday: Talking to Ourselves by Philip Schultz

Do you ever talk to yourself? I suppose most people do at some time. I know I do. I have a friend who says she talks to herself whenever she wants to have an intelligent conversation.  

Philip Schultz points out that even when we talk to others, we are often really talking to ourselves, organizing our thoughts, trying to sort things out, or understand something that has happened to us. 

Or maybe we are just trying to have an intelligent conversation.

Talking to Ourselves

by Philip Schultz

A woman in my doctor’s office last week
couldn’t stop talking about Niagara Falls,
the difference between dog and deer ticks,
how her oldest boy, killed in Iraq, would lie
with her at night in the summer grass, singing
Puccini. Her eyes looked at me but saw only
the saffron swirls of the quivering heavens.

Yesterday, Mr. Miller, our tidy neighbor,
stopped under our lopsided maple to explain
how his wife of sixty years died last month
of Alzheimer’s. I stood there, listening to
his longing reach across the darkness with
each bruised breath of his eloquent singing.

This morning my five-year-old asked himself
why he’d come into the kitchen. I understood
he was thinking out loud, personifying himself,
but the intimacy of his small voice was surprising.

When my father’s vending business was failing,
he’d talk to himself while driving, his lips
silently moving, his black eyes deliquescent.
He didn’t care that I was there, listening,
what he was saying was too important.

“Too important,” I hear myself saying
in the kitchen, putting the dishes away,
and my wife looks up from her reading
and asks, “What’s that you said?”


  1. Lovely. Just the right tone. Perfect ending.

  2. And...this also could be true of my blogging...just a thought...

    1. I think the same could probably be said of most bloggers!

  3. I talk to myself in the car mostly! I probably do it at other times too without being conscious of it. And it is absolutely true that when we talk to others we are in reality talking to ourselves. How intelligent my discourses are I will leave to others to judge, but I suspect that when Miriam says, "Yes dear" in that tone we all recognize, that what I said what was not especially sage or pithy!

    1. I do understand that "Yes, dear" response. I sometimes get the equivalent myself.

  4. "Each bruised breath..." what a line that is. I talk to myself. I used to talk to myself in the office and now I can do it at home, where no one listening.

    1. I can certainly relate to the no one is listening part!

  5. I talk to myself all the time! Funny thing is that my husband hears what I say to myself better than what I say to him sometimes!


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