I talk you talk we'll talk



Left Words

(x = words)



Left Words


I look at another

Blank page,

Which is all right

There’s something down


Already stained with



One letter by one

Formed into words

Making a shape on

The page

Out of many shapes



Once I read a

Single poem that

Trailed along the left

Side of the page

With a lack

Of syntax but

Replete with

Meaning, nonetheless

I could tell


The letters were sizable

And the name on top

Was famous


And that’s how

It’s done,

I supposed

It appears in

Someone else’s book


C L Couch



Photo by Gary Butterfield on Unsplash

Howard Hotel, 57 Howard St, Sheffield S1 2LW, UK, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom


The Loft

(x = space)



The Loft


If quiet into night

I send a word or two words

Or more

Through breath,

Then you might hear me

So that we might turn, at last,

Toward each other


I’d say all prayers are done

Except the kind that praise

And ask for nothing else


C L Couch



湖州市, 湖州市, 中国

Night View Mountain



(x = space)





Magic in words

A phrase I’m sure that has been said

In many times and places


Many languages


For it must seem that way

The way words can turn things

I suppose like many things

They have no value

Until applied

Character in the one

Who speaks or writes

Agenda, too

An open one shows fortitude

The hidden one a kind of cowardice


They can start wars

In fact, we have to say

They are declared

Then words are needed, after

In treating peace


There is so much more to say

Your turn

Use your words


C L Couch



Photo by Damon Lam on Unsplash


“The Rape of the Lock”

(x = space)



“The Rape of the Lock”


Is a poem-story

About a theft of hair

(a basis for satire)

From times when

“Rape” meant abduction

(bad enough, though

if you know

The Fantastiks, then

you know)


Even so, not a good

Word, made worse by

The way we use it

Now—given charge

And change

With reason

Words have power,

Don’t they?  Sometimes

More than action: try

Proclaiming “dictator”

Inside democracy

(listen to the only

speech in Chaplin’s

The Great Dictator)

Or cry “freedom” inside



Then there’s

“Joy” in a

Cheerless place,

Challenging the time

Another way


Have a gentle day

And mind (and mine)

Your choice of words, and

Take comfort from

The people with whom

You don’t have to

Fret so much


C L Couch



Photo by Kristian Strand on Unsplash

New York, United States






Simple, elegant verse about God

Jesus loves me, this I know

For the Bible tells me so

But I want it on my own, from my

Own words and thoughts and sentiments

The strings of my soul

The lines that go from me to you

That must be played

That must be worked

That must be played


C L Couch



sculpture at the EMP Museum in Seattle, Washington

Alex Hendricks – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,






We make words that work

The Anglo-Saxon hoard

That was the dictionary

And all the other contributions from

All languages

Language cannot be its own end, I guess

Yet there are beautiful words

That are lost each day

Because the group has gone

Or, sad to say, been subsumed

Our words don’t come with protections

We could use all kinds

If it were a law to think before they’re uttered

Beyond the autonomic

Well, there’s not

We are not oppressors

Not all of us

Not yet

We can’t have a rule that says

Everything must be approved

We only have the inner voice

That speaks to fast for words

Because that’s how ir works

On the inside


So that with which to regulate is

Strapped with nervous speed

Adrenaline is good

And it’s hard

Speaking well is good,

Which is not about articulation

It’s about discretion

The better part

Of something


Unironically, if we could only pause

But I cannot make that happen

Nor would I want to

Yes, I would

But it would be so easy to hamfist it

To make a break with tension

A legality

Then we’d need freedom fighters for

Release from word-overlords



Let’s simply take advice

Don’t kill the voice with alcohol

I know that doesn’t work

But listen for that voice that goes by too fast

Pull some seconds out

Stop in order to choose something better

Something good

Maybe wise

To say


C L Couch



By Man vyi – <span class=”int-own-work”>Self-photographed</span>, Public Domain, <a href=”″>Link</a&gt;

Hauteville House – Victor Hugo’s copy of George Métivier’s Dictionnaire Franco-Normand




(Advent, anytime)


I’m tired, and it’s raining

Rainy days are interesting

I like them

As long as they don’t go too far

The sun holds back, because

The clouds have asked them to

And far below, we dodge

The drops or surrender

To umbrella lids, rubber shoulders,

Or wet heads

It drops like verse upon the page

And we are drenched, then, in another way

Which is all right, I hope

One can’t catch cold from rained upon with words


I’m trusting

Virus has become interchangeable

Maybe colds can jump forms, too,

And meanings


There was a word made flesh

We killed that flesh, but

It walked among us whole (wholer),

At last

Then went away

To return another time

We fear that time and market it

It will come, anyway

And is said to be a glory


Let’s not fear our words so much, then

For like the word that died and

Will return

That is with us now

There is inherent resurrection quality

(aspect and excellence)

In what we can say,

In what we like to think

Especially in a season of hope


What might be heard

Might change us

In needful and saving ways

On rainy days



C L Couch



Photo by Caroline Grondin on Unsplash


Word Up

Word Up


There was no red phone

I learned that recently

Khrushchev and Kennedy used a teletype

To stand up over Cuba, negotiate

Through hardheadedness

A cold war


Now they might text

Or tweet if

Saints won’t abey their thumbs


There’s meeting face to face

And I guess the telephone might do

But we need direct communication

I learned this in school

How about you


Nothing like talking

Or writing with intent and art

Don’t worry

I never perfected either

And tire way too easily these days

From trying

But the message


The message

Still exists in words

That must be shared

From time to time

With care’s articulation


Call it ceremony

Call it ritual

Call it marriage day to day

Or the energy of friendship

Yes at the game, at work,

At home


Keep talking

Use words

In your better way

Sometimes, that’s all we got


C L Couch



By Vmenkov – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A pair of Laughing Doves sit on the electric (or telephone?) wires in Milyanfan village, in Kyrgyzstan’s Chuy Valley.


Services with Variants

Services with Variants

(from Appalachia)


I wonder as I wander

Out under the sky

Why Jesus, my Jesus,

Did come down to die


For poor on’ry people

Like you and like I

I wonder as I wander

Out under the sky


And then the story can begin in

Earnest—the grammar’s bad:

What does that really matter,


When the bias is for long and

Almost painful, loving notes

Wrought in the words to send


Them over; all the o sounds and

The is like convict souls, once

Held then let go like winged


Enchantment, soar above the

Planet in the room, to wave

Like smoke around the beams


Above the Sunday evening

Gathering, like convicts bound

Whose chains are broken with


No expectation, words and

Notes released like birds once

Wrapped by keepers’ hands—


In flight now to know no other

Mission than the erring sky

And song of wonder-wandering



“I Wonder as I Wander” (Appalachia)

Words and Music collected by John Jacob Niles

Collected by John Jacob Niles in Murphy, [North Carolina,] in July 1933 from a young traveling evangelist Annie Morgan.  According to Niles, he asked her to sing the song repeatedly until he had memorized it. It was published in his 1934 Songs of the Hill-Folk.


and “on’ry” is ornery, which is a good word

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