More than words



“Use your words Jerry!” admonished a cartoon quasi-evil scientist to one of his creations.

“Ouch! No biting!” a response, without words, and yet very clearly communicating!

Talking heads talk and talk and talk it becomes “blah blah blah” and blank spots.

sawêyihtowak ᓴᐁᐧᔨᐦᑐᐊᐧᐠ V they bless one another; they love one another

Bless and love. More than words, becoming the bridge when the words fail.

They are the balm when words wound. They move and live word-free.


Maybe words should fail and more often. What if poets wove their words to fail?

If a picture is worth a 1000 words, what could our actions speak then? Millions?

We stare at screens. Books. Images. And freeze. Unable to act or move. Still.

We think because someone saw it they did something. We observe and are

removed from the mud, the blood, the tears and the pain. We are stone.


Our empathy mocks, and our “shares” and “Likes” and “Tweets” buy some peace.

“Well I DID do SOMETHING!” and yet we know, down in that dark place below.

We know there is more to do. Not across the ocean. Or even across the street.

Across the room. A hand or breath away. Our words should fail us then. 

We should be unable to be poetic without action, without touch or voice.


Poetry – a call to action. A place for words to fail because we should not. Cannot.

Poetry – the memorial, the eulogy, the celebration. A place for failed words.

I wrote today about time healing all wounds, and scars still there to ache.

Scars are where the words failed and action struck. Ragged poetry seen.

Dug into skin. Aching and remembering the wounding. The wordless

time when there was nothing but getting out, away, being gone.


Words should fail when we fail to hear their call to act. To speak. To reach out.

To them. Especially to them. To walk away. From them. YES THEM! Go.

My words bubble and boil to the surface. Banging against lips and teeth.

Knowing their acid and bile won’t wound anyone but me I chew them.

Swallow deep and plan my exit steps. Silent prayer for grace. Again.

Words meant to wound when I need to feel better need to fail.


“You shoulda gave her a piece of your mind!” and “Why do you take that from them?”

And I can’t help but see their words as bait, hiding a sharp deadly hook inside.

Their words fail as I walk away, poetry in motion, leaving the scene before a

crime happens against poetry, against words and against self and life.

My words failed. And I”m glad. My actions were loud enough.

And my prayer for grace, instead of repentance, was healing.


Brian has us thinking about when words fail for Meeting at the Bar tonight. I’ve had lots of opportunity to see when words do fail – in good and bad ways. And in ways that turned around unexpectedly from one thing into something else entirely. As I get older I am learning the wisdom of poetry in motion, of walking away. Sometimes it is good for words to fail, it leaves room for action. And then sometimes we make them carry too much instead of doing it ourselves.  Not sure where I am going with this but deep thoughts are rambling around, so thanks Brian!  Stop by dVerse and see how the other poetic people are responding! Share your own thoughts and leave love.




  1. claudia said,

    June 5, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    i think there is a time for both – for words and for action – it needs both in a good balance… it’s sad when there is always talking and talking and nothing really done… well roared lion…smiles

  2. brian miller said,

    June 5, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    there are times it is not so bad when our words fail…when we could give them a piece of our mind but choose instead to walk away….yeah, i could do that a bit more…smiles…and yes, our actions should match our words or even at times overtake them…because we can make our words say a lot…that we can not live up to…

  3. June 5, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Sometimes, just walk away. Other battles are better fought with words. A thought-provoking poem!

  4. Susan said,

    June 5, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    OWooooOOO! You nailed the problem! The turning point is so close:

    “A hand or breath away. Our words should fail us then.
    We should be unable to be poetic without action, without touch or voice.”

    When words fail we must touch or reach or act–or, at times, must let them fail to prevent the more violent touching of battle, ripping, striving for the win. We are sly, we poets. While waiting for our next leading, we might decide this is it, words are our ministry. Studying when to let them fail may be part of that calling.

  5. June 5, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Slam dunk–I loved this

  6. Glenn Buttkus said,

    June 5, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    All talk-no action is dysfunction; so like Claudia, I believe in being a tightword waker, fighting for balance & equity. Action without thought, which are silent words, is likewise dysfunctional. Most hypocrites talk the talk, but never walk the walk; enjoyed your lines /bless & love/ more than words/ becoming the bridge/when words fail/ ; amen, sister.

  7. Abhra said,

    June 5, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    “Poetry – the memorial, the eulogy, the celebration. A place for failed words.”
    A brilliant and powerful piece Shanyn.

  8. June 6, 2014 at 12:31 am

    And my prayer for grace, instead of repentance, was healing.
    I like that line very much

  9. kaykuala said,

    June 6, 2014 at 1:28 am

    My words failed. And I”m glad. My actions were loud enough.
    And my prayer for grace, instead of repentance, was healing.

    Beautiful ending Shanyn! Often words fail but prayers help! How true. Great write!


  10. lynndiane said,

    June 6, 2014 at 3:37 am

    Too many words in the world is “blah, blah, blah.” Yes, words should fail so we see and touch the person across the room. Good to chew on!

  11. Teresa said,

    June 6, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    We definitely need to know when to speak and when to keep those words to ourselves. It’s not easy.

  12. June 6, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    Words without action is as bad as action without words… Generally there is usually too much words though.

  13. Akila said,

    June 7, 2014 at 3:02 am

    i like your loud thoughts here. Actions speak!

  14. June 7, 2014 at 7:11 am

    To hug is divine..
    to text..
    to text..
    as text..
    but never
    for touch..
    in human
    it’s the best i can do…
    perhaps that is the saddest
    part of
    technology..without flesh and
    blood..connections as such….
    the smile is in to shore..
    outside…far removed in symboled

  15. Bryan Ens said,

    June 8, 2014 at 4:43 am

    Actions do speak louder than words. Completely different style than I’m used to seeing from you, Shanyn… And you used that different style most powerfully!

  16. ManicDdaily said,

    June 11, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Absolutely right! A very thoughtful response to the prompt. Thanks, Shanyn. K.

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