Thoughts of a Poet

Have you ever had a line get stuck in your head that you can’t complete?  I’ve got a couple of those working this week.  I am not talking about a line from a movie or a book, but about something I am supposed to write.  Sometimes a phrase will trigger me to write something – a poem, story or essay.  Sometimes it’s just a Facebook post.

The thought is incomplete and I know that there is something bigger behind the words that are struggling to get out.  Sometimes a phrase or a word comes unbidden to my mind asking to become whole and complete.

Words have energy, power and a life of their own.  Follow a conversation among friends and see how some words shape and twist the flow of the interaction and how some words fall empty on the floor.  How often does a word, phrase or sentence land in your ear or enter through your eye to become a motivator of thought.  Think of those times when special, powerful words have entered your soul and changed your life.

I heard a poem recently at a poetry reading and two words got stuck in my brain.  They won’t leave.  There is something – an inexplicable imperative that drives my mind to complete them, resolve them, to bring them to peace.

There is something about the words that disturbs my soul.  Some lesson I need to learn.  Some wisdom I need to understand. Yet the words do not complete.  They ring in my ears and generate a feeling I can’t name.  I can touch the edges of the metaphor and feel both the emptiness and the soaring fulfillment in the emotion.

A vision flies past my eyes as my head follows the image from heat waves rising from the distant railroad tracks to the sky where the dual contrail converges in the distance.  Heat, difficulty, and regret fly into a distance filled with hope and joyous adventure.

Vanishing point.

Standing here on the tracks I am at the widest point of my life.  The railway tie holds the two rails of hope and despair apart.  Looking back I see where the two meet at my birth and through curves, switches and detours brought me here.

Looking forward, a vanishing point where the two extremes meet and fade into shimmering waves of heat rising from steal, wood, and the earth of a life lived.  One rail empties the soul leaving only tears of nothingness.  One rail soars into the sky and fills the soul with the happiness of creation and hope.

A plane flies overhead.  Two hundred souls bound for adventure.  Perhaps a vacation.  Perhaps a conquest.  Perhaps a new life.  Perhaps to sorrow.  The contrail marks their progress, until my eyes see the vanishing point.

I’ve taken these two words to the sea, to the forest, to work, to dinner, but no more words are conjured out of the air.  The two words just drift along and stretch into the distance and disappear into the mist only to rise again in the deep midnight of an incomplete day.

I want to argue with the words.  Fight them, force them to tell me why.  Then anger fades and the words remind.

I want to hug the words.  Love them, hold them, caress them until they lovingly enlighten my soul.

I want completion.  I hunger for resolution.

But perhaps, this poor poet must live with the enigma until he finally comes to the vanishing point.

Till next week,

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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25 Responses to Thoughts of a Poet

  1. artseafartsea says:

    I used to have trouble with the vanishing point in my painting classes. The teacher said if you are having trouble with it, don’t worry about it, just go on to something else. That’s usually what I do most of the time now. Really enjoyed your essay.


  2. Annika Perry says:

    Andrew, I know exactly what you mean and I can have words or short phrases stuck in my head for weeks. Often I will play around with sentences with them or they will kick-start a story or part of a chapter. Find inspiration from these moments and as well as this great post something else will develop with time. Ah…there it is again…patience.


  3. To me the vanishing point is infinity, for a little like the rainbow crock of gold it remains elusive no matter how far you seek. I cannot contribute otherwise, but I wish you good fortune on your quest.


  4. floridaborne says:

    A lady in her 50’s, I met at yoga class, had a close family member in her mid 20’s, a young woman who just passed away today after fighting leukemia for years. Those of us who have lived two and a half of this young woman’s life still consider life too short.

    That’s why my first thought when I read “vanishing point” was about the short and long of the point at which our lives vanish. If we reach the end of the line do we vanish, or do we meet the mirror image of ourselves? Are we the invisible witnesses, helpless to warn as we cross paths, unnoticed by the innocent self just beginning our journey?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You hooked me, Andrew. That image will not leave my brain anytime soon. I do this, too, though mine are usually longer than a few words. Such as ‘**** is his North Star’ (fill in the ***), ‘so close it’s a blur in the lens’. My husband threw one out at me (as he is prone to do). I asked him something about tech–a topic he usually can’t answer–and he had the right response. When I was shocked, he said “Every once in a while, the cheap seats come through’.

    Love that guy.


    • He’s right, sometimes the cheap seats have the best answers. Sometimes the thing we need to do as a poet/writer is to discuss our works in progress with someone. I almost didn’t post this essay as I wrote it to help me write the poem. I asked my wife to read this and a part of a poem I had started. She told me to dump the poem and publish the essay. Turns out she was right, this post is much better than the scrap of poem I was writing.


  6. JoHanna Massey says:

    What a delicious essay Andrew. I’ve read it twice now. While I do believe these words will rise again in different form for you, this essay alone would surely be enough.

    So happy I dropped in over morning coffee.


  7. davidprosser says:

    I’ve reached the stage where I have a sentence which won’t progress as it should until the right word has been inserted. I know what I want to say and could possible use an alternative word or phrase but the sentence won’t let me. It requires the right word or none at all. Very frustrating if you’re mid response to a message.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tertia says:

    I call a set of words like this a “hook” for a poem. I really identify with the feelings you describe, and think you are expressing them very well. Sometimes I write them down and draw association trees around them, or just put them away and wait. It’s frustrating all right. But I have faith that one day you’ll suddenly get the strangest smile on your face, startling anyone you are with, because you just got it. It’ll feel great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • These words have been going through my brain since August. I’ve done a couple of ‘mind maps,’ and a few false starts on poems. Odd, but it wasn’t until I did this free prose that it started to take shape. This post is the closest I’ve gotten to anything with the words. Who knows, another 2, 3 years and I might get something. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’ve never experienced this, but I very much enjoyed reading the words this incomplete sensation generated in you. You’ve expressed it so beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Beautiful, Andrew. I think your writing here brought its own completion to those two frustrating words. Very nice.

    Liked by 1 person

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