Poetry for Emergencies: Lain S. Thomas at Daybreak

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST

iTunes

Spotify

Anchor.fm

 

Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night and I’m scared. It’s not often and I usually can get back to sleep. I’m lucky that way because people do suffer from insomnia and my waking is not like that. An overactive mind maybe, too many things bouncing around in there.

If I can’t coax myself back to sleep in 30 minutes or so, then I shuffle into the Tree House, which is behind my bedroom, and tuck in with a book.

I suppose the troubling part this time was a tragedy which befell friends who lost a child. Death is always a surprise, but unnatural death rattles the foundation. What do folks do in case of such trauma, an event unlike anything before? I picked up the Bible, skimming through topics and passages, with little relief.

A go-to for me has been poetry. I read the words of Lain S. Thomas as the sun came up, the room shifting from the small circle of my book light into rose-tinted shadows. An hour of reading Thomas at daybreak is restorative for the soul.

 

Poetry by booklight before dawn

Words as Paint on the Page

A word painter and philosopher, Thomas writes of loss and love, of solitude and sadness. The shape of his words are themselves an image on the page, a repetition of lines forming into the shape of a human set to dive: In me is a song that no one can silence. In me is a song that no one can silence. In me is a song that no one can silence. (Every Word You Cannot Say, p. 161)  The sentence is repeated in small font, shaped like artist lines into a diver.

Thomas writes that words are sounds that are spoken, just air. And, on the page they are manipulated into visual art and language art.

Certain words are in a different color. Pages have splotches and fingerprints, line drawings of a woman’s hair, a seashell. He will stretch one word across the page.

e                      x                      i                       s                      t

In lowercase because there’s more than us who exist, meanwhile on the same page only the words hurt and love are in red. One hurt, five loves. (p. 160)

Here are sample poems he shared online.  And he too worries about stupid things in the middle of the night. Though my friends’ loss is anything but stupid. I do know that the child’s name was beautiful that first time his mother said it.

 

 

Two Lain S. Thomas Poems

Every Word You Cannot Say by Lain S. Thomas, p. 10*

Every Word You Cannot Say, by Lain S. Thomas p. 20*

 

Modern verse or free verse can feel gimmicky or easy. But an hour with Thomas lifted me out of sadness; his writing brought me into the light. I worry for my friends, for those who suffer horrific and unimaginable loss. I worry that it could happen to me.

 

*These are samples online.

 

 

A Bonus Lain S. Thomas poem

 

 

Here is something that makes me happy.

 

I believe that there is a restaurant somewhere in

the universe that serves nothing but first meals

and last meals.

 

The first time you ate with the person you loved.

 

The first time you discovered you enjoyed something,

You always thought you’d hated, and the last time you ate

With someone, without knowing it was the last time.

 

Somewhere, you can stretch every moment into a

Kind of forever.

 

*Every Word I Cannot Say, page 66.

Poetry Heals

I don’t suppose we know it’s a last meal when it is a last meal. For first meals we have a hint of something, a kernel or seed of love or discovery or transformation. That’s the thing about doing and living when it’s happening. We don’t always know it at the time. Or when we are awake in the middle of the night, or why.

It’s the reflection that makes it what it is to us, imbues it with meaning. Truth.

Jan 13, 2022

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

Stay Up to Date

Become a better reader and writer today and try the TreeHouseLetter for free. Always learning with a bit of fun.

Latest Posts

Most Underused Punctuation Mark in American Writing*

Short take Writer's Toolbox Em-dash Book recs So says the lexicographer and usage genius Bryan Garner. My desk copy of the 4th edition of Garner's Modern English Usage states on page 750, "The em-dash is perhaps the most underused punctuation mark in American...

Books for Mothers and Daughters

Short Take, 2 min read Mother's Day Book recs, ages 9 to 99 AVAILABLE ON PODCAST CLICK HERE It's a gray day full of drizzle in Connecticut though it's not as cold as it has been. The yellow lilies in the porch planters are in full bloom and they remind me of my...

What Makes a Speech Great? An Admiral Tells 3 Stories

6 min read Writer’s Toolbox Public speaking AVAILABLE ON PODCAST HERE Admiral McRaven commemorates the 11th Anniversary of Operation Neptune's Spear What makes a speech great? There are a lot of good speeches and good speakers. But a great speech is one you remember....

Exercises in Style: a Writing Tribute

3 min read Book rec Writing Toolbox Wordplay Ages 9 to 99 AVAILABLE IN PODCAST HERE Titles begin with letters as human forms Narrative One day at about midday in the food line, behind the checkout of a more or less busy Costco, I observed a person with a very big...

1000 Push-ups? Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

6 min read Memoir rec Work-outs, push-ups and running AVAILABLE ON PODCAST CLICK HERE Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s the short take on Living with a SEAL*, 31 Days Training With the Toughest Man on the Planet. Jesse Itzler, the author, is fit by most...

Bedside Counselor on Parenting in Anger, in Two Translations

6 min read Book rec Prose for emergencies Writing feature AVAILABLE IN PODCAST, CLICK HERE For solace and for counsel, I have several books I find myself returning to again and again, and to this one, most recently, as my third child prepares to leave home.* For...

What I Learned Walking With a Friend

8 min read True Story Military service Road walking, trail notes AVAILABLE IN PODCAST - CLICK HERE Not 30 miles as the crow flies, that’s how far I was from my childhood home. It was gray and threatening rain, the time in spring that’s cool, tree buds just coming in,...

Topics

Become a better reader and writer today and try the TreeHouseLetter for free. Always learning with a bit of fun.