Meeting the Bar: the Word is not enough

i mostly find them lying somewhere,
could be on a city sidewalk
smutted with a hard day’s dirt,
spray-washed by smooth summer rain
or bleached in the september sun

no one seems to see them

on the way back home from work
i pass them with my bike &
sometimes hate it when they call,
yet i stop, pick them up and then–
don’t know what to do

some feel heavy in my hands,
others sweet or ugly and they mingle
with my heartbeat

i put them in my pockets,
feel their pulse against my thighs &
then forget how much they move me

in the night i hear their breath
swaying tenderly towards my sheets,

with tousled hair, i rise,
pour them on the floor,
light a candle, spread them on the carpet,

for a long time we just sit and talk
moving them around, i
try to understand,
press them soft against my lips,
weighing how they feel–

some never seem to fit &
those i like the most

when the morning dawns i’m naked,
wounded & enraptured on the floor,
never make it back to bed,
never make it anywhere–

But i already knew that
when i saw them first

this is my entry for today’s Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft at dVerse Poets Pub, hosted by a wonderful Emmett Wheatfall. Gates will swing open at 3 pm EST


51 responses to “Meeting the Bar: the Word is not enough

  1. Great piece and vividly image producing through and through. Not quite sure what is being described though by you. Thought I knew, but then those don’t fit in your pocket, dreams? flowers? rocks? Some insect flocks?..haha….oh you need more than words and experiences as well, see I catch on as I ring the bell.

  2. Claudia, wonderful words. You tell this in such a way that we are there with you, really great job. I have to agree with Pat, not really sure of what you’re collecting- I went from you seeing people in the first stanza, to getting coins stuck in my head for the rest of the piece, but when you kissed them, I started thinking- “She wouldn’t be kissing coins she picked up of the street, would she? Anyhow- I love this enigma- kind of like what was in Marcellus Wallace’s box in Pulp Fiction- Brilliantly crafted piece with a thought magnet for a centerpiece-:)

    • i’m collecting words…just words…big words, small words…some are even crippled or have their best time long behind them…tough words, tender words, very average & very special words…words that make me happy, words that make me sad…and words i want to kiss…smiles

      • Totally see it now. I love that. i do a similar thing, I jot down things here and there that come to mind or read little thoughts into the recorder. Never saw it as collecting words before- but it really is- wonderful. Thanks so much for the explanation, really opened my eyes inwardly as well:)

  3. smiles. little lost pieces of poetry litter the streets abandoned or misplaced and you take them and find a home…i feel you on this…my notebook is filled with little snatches just waiting for their time to fly…you write it gentle…and a bit playful…i like

  4. Always a fresh pair of eyes Claudia… great concept of recognizing and taking back those words… a compulsion that can’t be switched off, denied…sometimes a joy, a little inconvenient at others. I love how you have suggested relationship with words.. they are yours and you bring them to life. Engaging from beginning to end.. and some arresting word choices:

    some feel heavy in my hands,
    others sweet or ugly and they mingle
    with my heartbeat

    …perhaps my favourite.

  5. Oh I love this! I do this with metaphors. I have them tucked in the pockets of all my coats and jackets. The sunrise often finds me sitting on my bed, computer on my lap, jackets strewn pel mel. 🙂

  6. “when the morning dawns i’m naked,
    wounded & enraptured on the floor,
    never make it back to bed,
    never make it anywhere–

    But i already knew that
    when i saw them first”

    Hi! Claudia…
    Thanks, for “cluing” me too!…Because I thought that you were writing about things in nature that we sometimes overlook…like rocks, leaves, etc,etc,etc…anyway, your very poetic words are very beautiful too!
    Knowing now, that it’s words in which you are so “intimate” with makes your poem all the more beautiful and endearing too!
    Thanks, for sharing!
    deedee 😉


    Only a word
    To tell a world
    A word saying nothing
    Coming from nowhere
    And going to nowhere
    Just a perfume in the wind
    Like a chain of fragrancy
    Around the tongue

    Perfume eaters like that smell
    But under the taste
    A silver trace is talking
    Saying words without a word
    Telling the tale of the wild ears
    Because everything’s always been free
    From any kind of word

  8. the words… they cling to us like dust, like sweat; sing inside us, have with their very own heartbeat; are infinite in their pleasure… and we are thankful for it. keep collecting claudia,

  9. Words! I knew it. I collect them everywhere. Big, little, ugly, cute… and each has an equal opportunity to be nurtured into something much larger. What a wonderful poem.

  10. Ah, I didn’t have to read the comments to know you were writing about writing words because one only has to read your poems to know their dimensions, to know they behave outside their meanings, that they stretch from nouns to verbs that they adjectivalize inside your pockets and your hat. You walk on words and they lift you like cushions sometimes like jet skis sometimes like airplanes where you sail or fly. I absolutely believe the last part. I imagine you spend many nights on keyboard or carpet moving these breathing creatures around. You are more than a musician, our Claudia, you are a magician!

  11. Smiles… wonderful write. I have been experiencing this more and more lately. Finding and picking up poetic phrases, descriptors of the morning skies, tossed trash by the side of the road… just little tidbits, collecting that later inspire me, at night or in the afternoon. A few, the favorites seem to tap the back of my head throughout the day, yearning to be spoken, penned down. You have such a way of expressing with a delicate touch, dazzling with words as they glide across the page. Thank you.

  12. Claudia,

    S1, L3 – especially like those hard consonantal t’s and d’s

    S3 is my favorite, particularly “sometimes hate it when they call” and “don’t know what to do”
    S3, L2 – maybe change “i pass them with my bike” to “on [or ‘with’] my bike i pass them”

    S5, L3 – really like “then forget how much they move me”—again, so honest

    S6, L2 – consider omitting “tenderly”

    S9 – agree with Aida — Sigh

    S10-11 – consider cutting those last two stanzas; S9 is so strong, aching


      • Glad you’re stoked by my mini crit…

        Yesterday I read the poem below; it reminded me of you and yours:

        by W. R. Rodgers

        Always the arriving winds of words
        Pour like Atlantic gales over these ears,
        These reefs, these foils and fenders, these shrinking
        And sea-scalded edges of the brain-land.
        Rebutted and rebounding, on they post
        Past my remembrance, falling all unplanned,
        But some day out of darkness they’ll come forth,
        Arrowed and narrowed into my tongue’s tip,
        And speak to me — their most astonished host.

  13. So wonderful. Really terrific. Liked in all ways. My only thought is that I found the placement of “first” in the last sentence a bit jarring; I guess I would say ‘when I first saw them” instead of “saw them first.”. Just a thought and pretty idiosyncratic. Loved poem.

  14. A process where we surely risk drowning amongst the weight! I loved this, pressing the to lips, candle light, as though searching beyond the obvious to find the hidden magic that will release the proper form, a ritual only one who suffers from the same addiction would understand 😉 Loved it last night upon first read, and even better now. A favorite I will return to.

  15. yes, inspiration is not a planned encounter nor will it sit silently to a passionate writer and be left alone. we can sleep later, create me now.
    excellente as always, luved the pov and ease of presentation. very gifted.

  16. Claudia…I love this poem. I am a gatherer of words too. I find them everywhere and jot them down on whatever piece of paper I can find. I literally write words on pieces of colored paper and collect them in a jar labeled “Strike Anywhere”. I love the idea of throwing words on the floor and moving them around,then letting the words move me. I may have to try that today. Thanks for a great poem!

  17. Claudia, WOW! I love this poem! I could so relate, though I never thought of it quite this way. For me, I don’t always put them in my pocket when I first see them, but they follow me home anyway. They get into my head and try to arrange themselves if I refuse to take the time to arrange them. My favorite part of your poem is:

    some never seem to fit &
    those i like the most

    Thanks for sharing. Peace, Linda

  18. Great poem, Claudia! Thank you for sharing.
    I, at first, too, tried to ‘figure out’ what were these ‘objects’ –at first, I thought ‘Experiences’ (keyed off from the title ‘Meeting the Bar’); but Alas! I did not catch the ”WORD” is not enough” — Ha!

    Words! Brilliant!! and so right, too.
    so descriptive: ”…on city sidewalk(s)….smutted…spray-washed…bleached.”
    Wow! I can actually Visualize these descriptions (I’ve experienced them too.)

    …And, you collect them –with a passion! you vividly express in your ‘love-making’ to them.

    I have a passion for words too — but, I’m afraid, my love is not as strong as yours. The Words should go to you.

    Such sensual connectedness with Words….I am envious.

    Your poem — I love it.

  19. Your poem lifted my mood. It made me feel happy and reminded me of the times on my daily walks when words attack me. The wind shouts them in my ears. They get jumbled up and I love them.

    You create magic with your words. What a gift.

  20. i’ve been dealing with a shortage of words lately. i find crummy ones, lots and lots of crummy ones. the sparkly words when they come together i like, whatever shade, however light or dark.
    cool poem. this is a good writer’s piece.

  21. My first read I raced through this, expecting to find “words” or “inspiring ideas” at the end. But I love that you left it open for the reader. Most skillful poem, Claudia.

  22. Much better to leave the reader to do some work, rather than to rub our noses in it! This poem has tremendous pace and tension, and was a breathless read. It re-iterates my own philosophy about word collecting. .

  23. Wonderful, Claudia. That’s exactly what it feels like. They are all over the place, and we pick them up and stuff them wherever there is still room like a pack rat. It’s when some of them get together unbidden and have a party that the magic happens.

  24. This is a wonderful collecting of words. I’m glad I’m home drinking wine alone with some time, sweet time, to read words that take me somewhere. Thank you for this piece, as I was reading, I thought it was words you were collecting– it made the read a delight.

  25. Wonderful. All those fickle, skitterish, glittering, marvelous words! I loved “smutted with a hard day’s dirt” the two final stanzas–all of it. Thank you.