The words I couldn’t say

A string of verses on a thread of twitter prompts.


The words I couldn’t say,

I hear them in the wind

and in the falling leaves,

but they mutter loudest in the raindrops,

dripping from the eaves.


I let you go because you wouldn’t stay,

the ties that bind all came undone,

floating like silver gossamer in the breeze.


You wouldn’t give me back my heart,

A keepsake, you said with a tragic air.

But you will forget, let its fluttering die,

a dull brown bird

with no song to sing.


Should I have known and raised my guard,

a carapace of tempered steel,

against the sweet words and soft looks you shot my way?

Can any heart become stone at will,

and the song in the blood a battle cry?


Had I held myself aloof

and turned away the fiery flow,

I would not have known the pain of broken dreams,

but nor would I have seen blue horses running,

and firebirds paint the sky with flame.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

21 thoughts on “The words I couldn’t say”

  1. This is such a lyrical and beautiful poem.

    IIt is better to explore and feel the pain then stay inside a cocoon.

    Had I held myself aloof

    and turned away the fiery flow,

    I would not have known the pain of broken dreams,

    but nor would I have seen blue horses running,

    and firebirds paint the sky with flame.

  2. Oh Jane. It galls me that such exquisite words are summoned from a collection of Twitter prompts and that is the ENTIRE opposite of how you have threaded them together to create such a elegant classical poem quite befitting the masters 200 years hence. And yet that is your ability, to transform. From now on I shall be mindful of this, you are a druid (they had female druids?) with words. I would never in a million million life times believe something as lovely as this poem you have written could have had as its source, the banality of Twitter YET it is this banal origin that proves to me (for the second time today) that you are an uncommon talent. It is surely ONLY someone with talent of this magnitude who could achieve this. Please never reveal otherwise because to think you are not touched by magic would spoil the notion, to believe this is mere practice and rote, no I shall never believe that despite your claims, you are truly a gifted NATURALLY writer and poet and I love this poem so very much because it is chambered like the best poems, a world within a story within a world. The colors and images, blue horses, firebirds painting skies. This reminds me both of the Persian poetry I love reading (admittedly in translation) with their quill of vivid capture, and the best of Tennyson’s oracle. If you get tired of me going apeshit over your poetry just know this, I am right, and you must get your poetry to a wider audience, you have a gift so few these days possess and you are truly one of those memorable writers whom I have grown to love. WITH GOOD CAUSE. Forget this not. Well done. Well done. This is sublime.

    1. I’m glad you like this. I used to think that when the twitter prompt poems made a cohesive whole it was a huge coincidence, or that the prompters much have been working in concert. Now I think it’s simply that I get an idea and shape the prompt words to fit. Some are formal rhymed verse, some free verse, but they add up to a single poem. It makes me pleased that you like the result 🙂

      1. I really did not believe at first it could be that but I am more impressed that it was and you were able to create THIS from that. It is like taking something irrelevant and making it relevant, you know how to shine that light and transform my friend. I loved the result – so impressed with you but I know you know that.

      2. mmm that’s totally untrue, cannot imagine anything you writing not amounting to much but I admire you for posting the best and not perhaps ones you would not feel stood proud I relate to that although sometimes do not have a choice if the going has been tough!

      3. Thank you. I really feel inspired by your talent my friend and that helps me in so many ways I am certain you reach others this way also.

      4. Well, true. I suppose none of us really can say more than that about ourselves and our opinions. I always find it interesting for example when someone really likes someone’s work and I’m scratching my head wondering why, or likes something I wrote that I wasn’t very fond of, it throws the whole subjectivity thing out with the bathwater, I suspect there are many reasons a poem will call to a person that are asides to its actual proficiency as a poem, which is perhaps why i like the form of poetry as it can appeal on so many levels for so many reasons. Then again I’d be willing to wager I could ‘tell’ a ‘good’ poem from one that is not as good objectively. I wouldn’t want to ever reveal that to the loser but I think I could tell. It is in the fineness of the writing just like the fineness of the bones of a beautiful person.

      5. I think you’re right about being able to tell good from bad. It’s in the impact. If a poem uses the wrong words because the poet has got the meaning wrong, I don’t forgive that. If you use words as your medium you have to use the right ones. Ignorance is no excuse. I’m willing to overlook a bit of abstruse personal view because I don’t always get the obvious anyway so I give the poet the benefit of the doubt, but anything that is so personal as to be a complete to anyone else is pure self-indulgence.

      6. True. I was thinking more though of just something that worked really well versus something that was … trite or clumsy or naive to a point that could not be considered rustic. I have read some poems I was glad they wrote for their sake but I knew they were not ‘good’ poems, in any other sense. I am not as judging though outloud because what good comes of that? What good even thinking it? Unless of course they win a prize and I think WHAT? But this is more true of ART than of poetry I see things I feel so badly for those who know how to paint when I see what has won 😦

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