A Page of Verse[1] 

by Michael Mallows


This was written as I sat in on a meeting chaired by a bully. He was articulate, manipulative, forceful, and oozed a kind of lethal charm.

If people attempted to gainsay him, he would appear to listen then respond in such a way that it was obvious their utterances had no more significance than the beat of a gnat’s wing has on an elephant’s pride.  

So, sitting outside this group, making notes, it wasn’t long before I understood something about the underlying dynamic, the root cause of some of the tensions, the patterns and Games that were being played out. As I was there to observe and, later, comment, it was not necessary to pay much more attention to the big picture, so I got fascinated in the things that were being said - rather than what was happening.  

Much of this flowed freely as I sat there, though later I did work to make it - I hope - something more akin to poetry.         




Words irrupt into the silver silence

Flowing molten. Viscous, honeyed gold

Sticky sudden sentences soar, sink then stumble.

Horrid old slights reverberate in the aftermath of heated debate;

Velvet, vicious verbs. Turgid and torrid phrases

Totter, teem, tower, topple, and tumble.

Falling, they are picked up again, carried forward

To challenge, charm, chop, and change minds,

To become shields against poison darts.


Sentence parts become barricades. Beginnings, endings.

Hues, and cries of blacks and whites, old and young.

The Future’s perfect; the Present tense.

In the past, I could have bitten off my tongue - yet,

When the voice is spent, we have but poor choice and less sense.


Bending the light, words glimmer, glow, burn.

Illuminating dark corners, they burn Iridescent,

Etiolating the light of love in eyes once warm,

They bedim the sun and the crescent moon.

Outliving the deed, echoing forever. Uttered too soon,

Still spinning yarns in the eye of the storm.

Resounding, well rounded, we follow the thread.


“You’re dead! Right?” Truth lies. Whether light or gravely said

Words delay caresses, pose questions. Who cares!

Who cares? Dangerous intimacy for those who dare silence.


Silence, pregnant with pauses. Words unborn,

Still-born promises. Love aborted. Hope bleeds

With every hurt unheard, every unmet need.

Moments hammered into memory, meaning shoehorned,

Stammered into effects without causes.


Juggernauted tenderness trundles into velvet violence.

Hugger-mugger, juggling, jostling jocular clauses

Better unuttered. Can we escape the prison sentences

And come home to the still freedom of a momentary silence?


[1]  Michael Mallows was asked to submit a piece of writing for the Language section of this issue, using his flair for word play.  We felt it was a flower that deserved more than simply to "blush unseen and waste its beauty on the desert air" of the Language section.  So we gave it a page to itself.