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6 Possible Sources of The Hum

People in Taos, New Mexico, and in other places, hear The Hum. A low frequency sound which comes from everywhere, or nowhere. Only some hear it. Microphones and other instruments do not detect it.


Noises, man-made

Industrial noise and amplified pop culture drones, high frequencies sheared away by atmosphere and ground, leaving the low rumble of compressors, fans, and 17 year old boys playing death metal CDs in their cars.


Plate tectonics

The great slabs below us, rumbling one over the other. Before the catastrophic release, there is stress. There is strain. A planet’s migraine. An almost subsonic earthmoan, muffled and vague from depth. This is the sound of no earthquake yet. Of California still being there. The Hum is the song of we are alive.



Kokomo, Indiana hired men of science to study The Hum. The professors wrote papers, which Kokomo could not understand, on pulsing microwaves. Not the kind you cook with. This left the Kokomo hearers baffled and with new layers of annoyance. They still hear The Hum and now resent egghead scientists from Bloomington.


Listening to Leonids

A meteor enters and dies flaming in the upper atmosphere. Across the sky, a giant tail of ions is played like a harp by the Earth’s magnetic field. Those are long strings and so this is bass.


Solar Wind

Like so much of science, we are forced to take their word: Particles come at us from the sun. If there were people on Mercury, it would be an issue there. They’d turn their backs to the sun and pull up their collars. Their backs bathed with radiation. So, goes the theory, the sun sings the earth a low note. It’s a solar wind instrument.


Tensor Tympani

This holds The Hum originates on the eardrums of hearers by the tensor tympani muscle trembling. Why should this not be? So much of what makes life interesting comes to us by conflicts in our bodies. A chemical blooms and then is broken down by enzymes. One muscle opposes another and that checks our more reckless movements and holds us in place. We grow tired and the muscles quake. So much comes to us from our trembling. 

This poem originally appeared in Foliate Oak.  However, it's not available in the archives for some reason.  So, here you go.