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The Tree Program, a Poem About Words

Updated on March 3, 2017
Electronic drawing of trees that aren't really trees, just the idea of trees
Electronic drawing of trees that aren't really trees, just the idea of trees | Source

The Tree Program, a Mental Algorithm

Writing, it's like a program.

We're like programs who can write programs
we can put inside ourselves and try to run.
Writers, they write programs, too.
They stick words in your head
that you turn into fragrances, sights, and sounds
and that's just when you've read.
There's always the touch, and the taste and the smell.
You caught that, I said it twice!
Even words that are interpreted as smells
are easier to remember.

The words in the programs we write
set off programs when they've been read
by a mind with the ability to think in senses
rather than symbols and symbology.

The words act as programs running.
I might have a seizure
as a result of an inadvertent programming
by something not meant to be plugged in
or in response to junk coding in other input
like a flashing strobe set on high.

I write tree and a flash of green
hits your mind with the leaves,
with the bark. It's not pine
which sends your mind to the orchards
Flash of blue, flash of grass.
It's a fruit tree. The apple is round
now it's crisp, red and white-fleshed.
Now you're smelling its wet insides.
You taste the first time you ate raw apples
and feel the cool tart fruit in your mouth
pull the sides of your cheeks to your tongue.
All with a tree that doesn't exist anywhere
not anywhere but in your mind.
It's not on paper or in the back yard;
it's only here, dots of dark on the light in the darkness,
words I programmed you with.

I write tree and a flash of green
hits your mind with the leaves,
with the bark. It's not pine
which sends your mind to
the tropics. Flash of blue, flash of cloud.
It's a palm frond and the coconut is brown
Now it's roundish and hairy,
white-fleshed. Now you're smelling its wet inside.
You taste the first time you ate raw coconut
and feel the cool fibrous fruit in your mouth
sweet and nutty in your head.
All with a tree that doesn't exist anywhere
not anywhere but your mind.
It's not on paper or in the back yard;
it's only here, dots of dark on the light in the darkness,
words I programmed you with.

by Kylyssa Shay

Some Comments on the Tree Program

I want to say I don't really classify "The Tree Program" as a poem. I've been told it most resembles a poem, but it is not exactly intended to be one. It is an attempt to lead your thoughts and impressions to the places where sense memories exist, where symbols for sound symbols turn into memories of nouns. It was my intent to try to lead you to a memory adjacent to trees and then to the feeling of an emotion.

In other words, I wanted to get across the idea that people speak and write and introduce patterns of thought into our heads through words. Sometimes those ideas and thoughts are completely innocuous, like thoughts about trees. Sometimes those thoughts and ideas are dangerous, like prejudice and hatred.

I take this all to mean that writers and speakers have a responsibility to be mindful of what kind of words they may be programming people with.

Tree illustration made with soap bubbles and PhotoShop
Tree illustration made with soap bubbles and PhotoShop | Source

© 2016 Kylyssa Shay

What Words Evoke Strong Feelings or Memories for You?

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 16 months ago from Oklahoma

      Beautifully done.

    • Sunkesner profile image

      Sunkesner 16 months ago from Philippines

      Beautifully described~

    • Kylyssa profile image
      Author

      Kylyssa Shay 16 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      Thank you. Not all word programs are as innocuous as those set off by a few words about trees. In the US, we see the fruits of unethical persuasive speech in things like violence against people at Planned Parenthood clinics, attacks on people who look like they might be Muslims, and an epidemic of pregnant teens and people with STDs. People even use words to persuade others that some humans are less than human!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 16 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This was certainly different Kylyssa, but you get the point across well that a writer's words can program your mind to think, smell and feel certain things..as they activate your memory of the things you read about. Good poem.

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