When There are No Words

How do we communicate? If a writer were to describe me as a character in a fiction book, they’d write: as she talked, her hands moved to show emphasis on the point she was trying to make. Do you talk with your hands?

One of the best classroom management tips I’ve learned was teaching students how to ask to go to the restroom and get a drink of water by using sign language. When students ask to go to the restroom they sign the American Sign Language letter “r”. If they need a drink of water, they form a “w” with their fingers. As soon as I see these signs, I either point to the door or nod.

What are other ways we use to communicate beside hand gestures and body language? Tone of voice comes to mind. In a lesson the other day, my students caught my low level of enthusiasm when I’d ask them what they thought the tone of my voice was. I was giving them examples of “tone” of voice in effort to teach them “tone” in writing.

They said: “frustrated”, and, truth be told, that had not been my intention, but they got the point either way. My earlier classes had answered “cheerful”, the tone I was going for. My energy level had affected the tone of my voice in the later classes.

Another form of expression is our behavior. This brings to mind the saying actions speak louder than words. Behavior can give us insight into our thoughts, feeling, values, and personalities. It lets us communicate with others. For example, being on time to work everyday sends the message to our employers that we are responsible and reliable.

Communication and expression in all form is fascinating because it reveals so much information when we choose to pay attention.

On Polishing Dusty, Old Poems

Last week, I felt a desire to finish two poems that had been in the draft folder for more than a year. Finishing these two poems allowed me to let go and move on (hopefully into more poetry writing).

One poem is about my experiences of working as a pharmacy technician and the other about how thoughts can keep me awake at night and how they sometimes become louder than the sounds coming from the world. They’re written in a stream-of-consciousness style.

Polishing & Submitting

These poems were inspired by a poem I’ve mentioned quite a bit on this blog: Louise Gluck’s “October”. Gluck uses the questioning technique throughout it. The two poems that I wrote also use questioning. I’d stacked a lot of questions, and I decided to connect the questions with commas, so that there’s only one question mark until the end of the poem. I did this after reading advice from an editor who said that connecting all of the questions with only one question mark would have a better effect.

Blogging has taught me so many lessons (I’m hoping to post about this soon), and one of them was a renewed confidence in my writing which seems to also be impacting my poetry writing. I’m starting to feel okay about writing bad poems again in hopes that with showing up, polished poems begin to form.

When I revise and edit poems, I usually record myself. I listen to the recordings to find the lines that I want to edit or revise. I worked on them last week, and the results were poems that feel as polished as they’re going to get.

After the polishing, I decided that it was time to submit them to literary journals. These poems don’t feel mine anymore, and I have faith that they will find a home. After submitting what felt like a million job applications in the past two weeks, submitting the poems felt like a much easier process. The submission process usually calls for a short cover letter and a bio in addition to the pieces one submits.


I’m finally finding some things that link the small collection of polished poems that I’ve accumulated so far. For one, I seem to be addressing specific people or groups of people in my life. One poem is addressed to my father, the other to my mother, and another to my students. I’m not surprised to find that I’ve been writing letter poems. I have always been the quiet one, better with words on paper, and I show my love better through actions than through physical touch.

Image by Cina Erikson from Pixabay

When I go from poet to analyzer of my writing, I see that the poems are not poems. They are letters from the heart. Some of them include emotions that I still don’t feel capable of expressing in the real world.

Some of the poems are also full of questions that at one point I felt that I didn’t have the answers to. To a certain extent, I still don’t. Maybe in letting go of the poems, I’m letting go of the questions and accepting the questions without the need for answers.

Friday, March 29, 2019