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What Words Do

Sly words wind themselves slowly around you
hiss lilting assurances into your dreams
coil themselves into your secret places
read your mind, perform rope tricks with your rising greed

caress you carefully, pick your pockets
steal passwords, phone numbers from your private diaries


Inadvertent words splat you
like car tires speeding through muddy puddles
splash you in a sudden shower
of unsuspecting brown
slap your face, dirty your clothes
then race off innocently


Broken promises seep into you intravenously

poison you drip by drip.

Passing your bedside, well-intentioned nurses
matter-of-factly adjust the flow
tired, on night shift, they forget
to change the infusion or, absent-mindedly
hook up wrong ones when called
to urgent phone calls


Hurtful words sting you
rub themselves into your eyes
like cheap soap, their unpleasant fragrance
makes you weep
and when you grope with reasoned hand
to open the faucet, wash the wounds
a sobbing child somewhere turns off the mains
and leaves you fumbling for a towel
to slowly pat the pain away


Kind words soothe the heart
like Aloe Vera they coat you
with a thin layer of comfort,
calm the sting, and though their
transparent spell may fade in a while
for their few gentle moments
they cool your wounds


Everyday, ordinary words are best,
like friendly neighbors they pop in
through the kitchen door
to share a cup of coffee,
discuss the children’s adjustment
why husband comes home late
whether to cancel that far east trip
what to do about aging parents,
the daily confrontation with the mirror
and the bathroom scale

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© Johnmichael Simon



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