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A Longer Life in Words - a Poem About What Writing Does for Me

Updated on October 28, 2016

A Poem That Answers a Slightly Rude Question

A few months ago, someone asked me why I bother to write when only a few million people have ever read my words and likely very few of them even remember any of them. She suggested I shouldn't bother if I'll never be famous and if writing doesn't make a lot of money for me because I'm just not very good at it, anyway. To her, fame and money are clearly the only things writing might be good for.

She's right; I'll never be famous, but writing is about so much more for me than fame or even money for me. Maybe she's right about my writing not being very good, too, but that isn't even relevant to the lion's share of what I get out of it.

Perhaps the most amusing aspect of my conversation with her is that, as a high-functioning autistic person, writing is my primary form of communication. Over 90% of what I say takes the form of written words. In essence, the person was suggesting I shut up, stop communicating with other human beings, and stop doing the only work I'm able to do with my collection of health issues!

This poem expresses why it isn't necessary for anyone to even read my words for writing to continue to be worthwhile for me. It's about just a few of the many, many things writing does to vastly improve my quality of life without even having another living soul read it. If reading it leaves you with no feeling at all for how important writing is to me, personally, there's nothing I could put in words what would.

Words have magic powers of preservation, destruction, and time travel that moves through minds living and dead.
Words have magic powers of preservation, destruction, and time travel that moves through minds living and dead. | Source

A Longer Life in Words

Life is longer put in words or at least the good parts are.

Writing has a magical power over time.
Joys can be made to last for thousands of years,
to seem eternal within a single lifespan.
Terror that seems endless can be tied down
to a page with inky knots and shrunk
to fit on an eight and a half by eleven inch slice
of material reality I can crumple in one hand.
Disappointment can darken the pixels of a screen
and become nothing but a story told in electrical impulses
that takes up less than 25k.

Writing slays demons one keystroke at a time.

I've cut off the sweaty, groping hands of memory
by slamming them in books of my own creation.
I've seen the most hurtful words of my childhood
perish in electronic darkness.
Their echoes come back to hurt me sometimes,
but they seem weaker, drained of vividness,
no longer lingering like the smell of old mildew.
Over time the stench of vomit and blood on hot asphalt
can be made to smell like old books.
An assailant can be made to look like an old stain
rather than someone I could draw photographically
if only I could draw so well.

Writing stores the precious gifts of the dead.

It lets me run giggling through summer-lush yards
holding the strong dainty hand of a ghost
with the lips to an ocean
I tried to drown in one joyous year.
It lets me remember the wee waxy pink blossoms
in the sparkling black coils of her hair
with more clarity than the flowers on her grave.
I can touch her face with coherent marks on a page,
glide my pen along my lost lover's cheek,
using pigment on wood pulp like an appendage
to reach beyond the end of life.
Words preserved my mom's last hazy, blue-eyed smile
and the warmth of her slack hand squeezing mine,
as well.
Like an endless jar of bread and butter pickles,
I can come back to it to taste
the last sweet thing she gave me
anytime I want to until I die.

What Do Your Words Do for You Above and Beyond Communicating with Others or Earning Money?

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    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 17 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Having read your hub and seeing the way you express yourself so well, I can’t understand where that person is coming from.

      I can only imagine that this person who told you these things feels threatened due to the fact that you are better than she is. You have proven that, with the professional way you write.

      Your poem displays an enormous ability to communicate in a way that intelligent people will appreciate. Reading between then lines, you have shared the grief many experience with losing a parent.

      As for fame, it’s no different for any of us. There are many creative people in the world, such as you, who have the ability to add value to the world with your writing. However, few ever really are discovered.

      Nevertheless, a select few do notice them – those who don’t feel intimidated by your ability to overcome your limitations.

      Continue with your writing. Keep communicating. It is worthwhile for people to read what you say. Those who can “hear” you will have a better quality of life. The world is a better place with you in it.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 2 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      @whonunuwho - Every approach is unique; the trick is to avoid the ruts so it can be seen as so.

      @Eldon Arsenaux - I hope every line I write about her does her credit.

      @Larry Rankin - As an autistic person, everything is an interpretation from or into the language of the norms. Glad you found it interesting.

      @Jodah - I've found the more I write for myself, for expression, catharsis, or to caress a memory, the more readers seem to enjoy it. I seldom speak aloud; others are always talking and they judge my words by my delivery and by my physical packaging rather than by my words' content when I do so. I feel that sometimes my written words are actually heard.

      @word55 - I think too often people forget their writing can be more than just something for other people to read, that the act itself can help them hear themselves and honor their memories.

      @Parimalpolymath - Writing is an amazing therapy for getting over trauma.

      Thank you all for reading and commenting.

    • Parimalpolymath profile image

      Prabhat Parimal 2 years ago from India

      I liked these words the most:

      "Terror that seems endless can be tied down

      to a page with inky knots and shrunk

      to fit on an eight and a half by eleven inch slice

      of material reality I can crumple in one hand."

      Nice inspiring poem!

    • word55 profile image

      Word 2 years ago from Chicago

      Great writing of poetry here Kylyssa, with a very powerful message. Have a Happy New Year!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Good poem with a great message Kylyssa. Writing is also my primary means of communication as I am not a good orator. No matter how many views or readers I get I will continue to write to express myself, and those who do happen across my writing will hopefully be fortunate enough to take an important message from it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Interesting interpretation.

    • Eldon Arsenaux profile image

      Eldon Arsenaux 2 years ago from Cooley, Texas

      Many great lines here Kylyssa, especially "holding the strong... in one joyous year." You did splendid!


    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 2 years ago from United States

      Very unique approach my friend. Liked your message. whonu