Words which clamber for birth,
eager to cling to the page,
words which would raise to self-worth
modestly seeking a place.
Words which admit, words which deny,
words deftly-chosen, words misapplied.
Dominatrix words which try
to overpower a subtle punchline.

Words which have something to say,
each syllable tuned in its own way,
conciliating or armed for the fray,
screaming surprise or mumbling cliché.

Words that edge to the ideal mate;
working their way towards standing up straight,
shuffling their way into ship-shape phrases
like uneasy conscripts with falsified ages.

Words scrubbed out and aptly replaced,
jackets buttoned and shoes tightly laced,
a tidy battalion of lines and stanzas;
meter supplanting the weapons of battle,
bragging the spit and polish of rhyme,
till all might concur that the verse is sublime,
the meter is perfect, the message shines.


Yet words,
for all their courageous claims
of muscle, weight and girth,
often wither and fade
into an insipid blur


Written for Word of the Day Challenge: Insipid

©Jane Paterson Basil

17 thoughts on “Words

  1. Let me get this straight, Jane. The challenge is to use “insipid” in a poem — so you go off to compose as strong, memorable of a poem as possible — the very opposite of insipid — and you do NOT expect to be disqualified?

    I may be no more than just another dumb American, Jane, but I can see you Brits have got the system rigged. I can smell the corruption from here! Someone is on the take.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha! You made me spit coffee all over my laptop. For your benefit, I have since edited the poem slightly. It goes like this:

      I like writing awesome rhyme
      my words are poignant all the time.
      so why do people talk so wicked
      saying that my work’s insipid?

      I hope that meets with your approval. I await your critique.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. From what I can see at this moment, you have reverted to the original poem, for I can’t find your edit in it. If so, I think that was a good idea. I like the original better.

        Here’s why.

        In my opinion — which fully merits the generous consideration anyone of us would naturally accord a jackass — the original poem ends weakly, insipidly on the word “blur”. I find it brilliant that you would conclude a poem about words being insipid with an insipid ending in sharp contrast to all that has gone before.

        Really gets you thinking, that one. I mean, how can so much of the poem show words off as vigorous, robust things, then so compellingly declare them insipid? Could it be both views have justice?

        But your edit ends strong, and thus negates that delightful contradiction.

        DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here are my own and should be taken with due caution. Nevertheless, even the gods themselves would snort at any mere mortal so foolish as to contradict me.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Both views definitely have justice. The power of words depends on so many factors. Hitler was a strong speaker, but would he have wrought so much suffering if Germany hadn’t been in the doldrums at the time? Martin Luther King was a great speaker, and a great man. He made a lot of difference, but even he didn’t appeal to racists.

          In a mob situation, a weak voice can carry a lot of strength, as long as it’s on the side of violence, while a strong voice might be unable to bring peace.


    1. You comments are as beautifully written as your poems… but don’t you ever read work you wrote in the distant past and find it amateurish or insignificant? I certainly do.


      1. Yes. Definitely. And that’s okay. Either for growth or part of a cycle. You may gate them but in the future you may again like them ( or you may ALWAYS hate them) either way, growth over stagnation. All good right?

        Liked by 2 people

          1. I liked what Plath did, she never trashed her work she would work on each thing until it was good enough. I can’t do that I do trash some of mine but I appreciate the idea of continued growth more than the loaded “improvement” anyway the other side is what we may hate others may find something in. I learn that a lot. The work I may think weak may be liked by others more than one I like. The curious world of words!


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