because while some truths lend themselves to equations, others are best described in verse

poem ex nihilo

we burn
as the sun sets.

i am watching smoke curl,
feeding sticks into the flames
one by one by one, searching
the shapes of autumn’s shadow

for a metaphor fragile
enough to carry trust
in its silky, river-
fed palms;

for the words to drip
down your open-mouthed
throat like a benediction
and swallow naked, like a sword;

for the way silent twilight
fills the negative space
and becomes a poem
ex nihilo.

11 responses

  1. Thanks Joanna, i like the visual nature of this work. I want to take some small words away though… if you don’t mind the comments? here goes; remove one of the ‘one by ones’ as i think it slows the line down, and feels like a pssage amongst the shadows, The For in ; ‘for a metpphor..’as it works so well with out it as it is connected to the last stanza by nature of being included in the work, yet also can stand alone as a beautiful piece of curly langage.. Also… the last two stanzas the ‘for’ at the start of them… removing them the peice becomes wider… Please I hope your are not affronted by theses comments.. it is unsual for me to comment on anyone s work like this as i take what people write as theres.. but .. as a reader .. I become the writer… Great piece thanks for posting it

    August 21, 2012 at 4:42 am

    • thank you for your very thoughtful commentary. i always welcome critical feedback. you have a point with the “by one”; it does slow the line down. for me, this was intentional: it slows the entire piece down as read aloud, and i like the way it sounds. as to the “for”s, here, i have to disagree. the sense intended to the piece is that of “searching for” all those things in the last 3 verses; taking out the “for”s therefore takes away much of the logic of the poem. just my response to your thought. that’s the great thing about constructive criticism: the author can either accept or reject the changes, but still learn from the perspective of the hearer/reader. thanks again.

      August 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm

  2. reading this poem i get the feeling of being close to a cleansing flame that first burns and, after purifying, warms..just love ‘searching
    the shapes of autumn’s shadow’ and four lines that follow it..thank you for sharing~

    August 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm

  3. Joanna, I think it’s perfect!

    August 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm

  4. Joanne–this is perfection!

    August 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm

  5. for the words to drip
    down your open-mouthed
    throat like a benediction
    and swallow naked, like a sword;….dang joanna….nice mix of imagery there….one to the next from sacred to sideshow….

    August 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm

  6. Wow, stunning photo and words. I love Brian’s comment…also, from the negative space, comes a poem, from nothing.

    Oh, and there’s something about silky, river-fed palms *smiles widely*


    August 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm

  7. That’s about as great as opening lines get. You have to read on from there.

    And that was awesome as well.

    August 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm

  8. Also a very pretty poem – the description of metaphor just lovely. k.

    August 21, 2012 at 8:58 pm

  9. Wonderful imagery. Well done!

    August 22, 2012 at 2:44 am

  10. Ha …a lot of my poems are ex nihilo as well:)

    August 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm


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