A Word Once Spoken [Poem]

“The swiftest horse cannot overtake a word once spoken”

– Chinese Proverb

Be wary what leaves your lips in anger or in passion,
for by fractions those words fashion your reality –
for better or for worse,
for worse or for better.
Not a thing can be unaffected that is touched
by these words once spoken.

Once silence is irreparably broken
it can never be repaired without scars
and you can never unmake words,
Not with the swiftest or surest hand,
Nor the tightest fist,
Nor with the softest kisses
laid across ears that cannot un-hear your words.

The heart heals itself like skin,
suturing along its frayed lines,
each stitch creating new scars
so that even in health there remain traces of brokenness,
faceless faces,
stitched together smiles,
a hollow reflection of what was once beautiful
with eyes that will never look at you the same again.

A word once spoken
does not collapse in the desert,
bone tired and sweat drowned,
nor does it cry out,
legs mangled under the weight of racing the universe,
chest heaving.
It rises like hot air,
borne from the earth into the clouds
to rain a harsh and toxic rain
over unsuspecting heads
while you sit watching the rain in the distance,
knowing what you have done.

Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash

On DVerse, the prompt today is to write a poem that incorporates a proverb in some way. Make certain you state the proverb.

23 thoughts on “A Word Once Spoken [Poem]

  1. Oh my god, my heart sunk right here: “while you sit watching the rain in the distance,
    knowing what you have done.”

    The beauty and gravity of each verse startles me, especially when I can resonate on both sides of the coin–the bearer and listener. It hurts either way, but I think what hurts the most is how from certain words, you’re never looked at the same again (as you eloquently said). You can’t erase pain, you only grow around it. That’s why this poem is particularly evocative and emotional to me as it’s a universal, human experience. We have so many regrets, we can plant rose gardens with them–and they keep growing.

    I love the message and what it cautions. I really flip the bird at this proverb sometimes: “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” as words can hold just as much power as its physical equivalent. It devastates you, emotionally. Love how you delved into the prompt here with such a profound, remarkable response; and I also like the proverb you chose to write for, I never heard of that one before admittedly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Powerful writing with great focus. It’s as you say. The aftermath:
    “stitched together smiles,
    a hollow reflection of what was once beautiful
    with eyes that will never look at you the same again.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is deeply poignant! I especially like; “A word once spoken does not collapse in the desert, bone tired and sweat drowned, nor does it cry out, legs mangled under the weight of racing the universe, chest heaving. It rises like hot air, borne from the earth into the clouds.”πŸ’πŸ’

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow!

    “The heart heals itself like skin,
    suturing along its frayed lines,
    each stitch creating new scars
    so that even in health there remain traces of brokenness,
    faceless faces,
    stitched together smiles,
    a hollow reflection of what was once beautiful
    with eyes that will never look at you the same again.”

    Stunning writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautifully written! I think most of us have experienced this both ways–and hopefully, anyone who has uttered such words does regret it.
    It made me think of the people who have made fun of the Capitol police officers’ testimony and ridiculing them for being upset.
    I liked the sense of motion in your poem, too.

    Like

  6. Beautiful poem, Evan, I especially like the fourth stanza and the lines:

    “A word once spoken
    does not collapse in the desert,
    bone tired and sweat drowned,
    nor does it cry out,
    legs mangled under the weight of racing the universe,
    chest heaving.”

    Great write! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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