16 Jan
"Family and Rainstorm" by Alex Colville

“Family and Rainstorm” by Alex Colville – 1955


ubiquitous as water, find words
on cereal boxes, cracker wraps
this pencil, this keyboard
shoes, underwear
beside the road, on your stove
TV remote, light bulb
in the speech cloud above my head
the thought bubble above yours

words have texture and heft
substance, power and cleft
they sing and ring
cling and fling
can be tart or tasty
considered or hasty
with precise aim and tone
they can break a bone

some paint broad strokes
like impressionist art
others are real
as an Alex Colville
complete with summer day
storm clouds

© 2014 by Violet Nesdoly


Tomorrow (January 18th) would be the 235th birthday of Peter Roget, the physician / theologian / lexicographer who compiled the Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases. It was published  in 1852 and went through twenty-eight editions in his lifetime. (He died in 1869) (The Christian Almanac, p. 47).

Thank you, Mr. Roget. I love words and I love your Thesaurus!

Want to find out about more interesting facts about January. Check out the January ’14 Freelance Writers Almanac post on my writer blog. It’s my plan to post an almanac post on the first day of each month this year.

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is part of Poetry Friday, hosted today by Keri at Keri Recommends.


Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Poetry Friday, Writing


Tags: , , ,

19 responses to “Words

  1. kiwiskan

    January 16, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Your words and the picture are perfect. And happy Birthday Roget – I love his thesaurus as well.


    • Violet Nesdoly

      January 17, 2014 at 9:18 am

      Thank you, Kiwiskan. Aren’t we blessed to have that handy word book?


  2. Julie Larios

    January 17, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Words “can be tart and tasty” – so true! And that art work by Alex Colville is BEAUTIFUL (or should I say it’s beauteous, handsome, gorgeous, pretty, lovely, graceful, elegant, attractive, inviting, delicate, dainty, refined, fair, personable, comely, seemly, bonny [Scottish], good-looking, well-favored, well-made, well-formed, well-proportioned, shapely or harmonious? 🙂 Thanks for posting both the poem and the painting. And Happy Birthday, Mr. Roget.


    • Violet Nesdoly

      January 17, 2014 at 9:17 am

      Ha! You’ve got the thesaurus spirit alright! Love it 🙂


  3. jama

    January 17, 2014 at 4:11 am

    LOVE your poem, Violet. What a fabulous celebration of words (I so enjoy rolling each around in my mouth, reading them aloud, tasting and chewing and savoring. Happy Birthday, Roget!


    • Violet Nesdoly

      January 17, 2014 at 9:14 am

      Dear Jama, so glad this is a foodie delight for you.


  4. dmayr

    January 17, 2014 at 5:29 am

    “ubiquitous as water” is a great opening! Love it.

    I’m a thesaurus fan, too!


    • Violet Nesdoly

      January 17, 2014 at 9:12 am

      Thanks Diane! I’m not surprised you’re a thesaurus fan… what wordsmith isn’t?


  5. Linda Baie

    January 17, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Violet, I always admire your words/poems, but this time you are writing about words! Very special, and the painting, too. I am not a huge art person, but I don’t know this artist-beautiful scene. It reminds me a little of Edward Hopper’s work. Also, I just read a post from Jen Bryant, whose recent picture book is A Splash of Red (about Horace Pippin). She shared that her next book coming out (this fall perhaps?) is about Roget, about his gift to the world, the Thesaurus! I thought that was so great, & then you tell us about his birthday. Thought you’d enjoy knowing!


    • Violet Nesdoly

      January 18, 2014 at 7:37 am

      Thanks, Linda – and for the information that someone is doing a book about Roget! That will be interesting.

      Perhaps you don’t know Colville because he is/was a Canadian artist (actually died only last July). You can view more of his paintings here:


  6. Liz Steinglass

    January 18, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    With precise aim and tone they can break a bone. So true and yet not what the old saying says. I love my Roget’s thesaurus. The others just aren’t as good.


  7. Bridget Magee

    January 18, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    “words have texture and heft
    substance, power and cleft”
    Love this, Violet! My Roget thesaurus is dog-eared and well loved. Thanks for sharing. =)


  8. Carol

    January 18, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    This rhythm of this poem feels so perfect in my mouth. I can’t even imagine trying to get these words so exactly perfect. And then that last stanza- such a terrific comparison. I don’t kow Colville, I want to go looking for more of his work.


  9. Mary Lee Hahn

    January 19, 2014 at 5:14 am

    I love the way you connected words to art!


  10. Renee LaTulippe

    January 20, 2014 at 4:33 am

    Beautiful painting and word-happy poem – thank you! I especially like your sound-play in the second stanza. Fun!


  11. haitiruth

    January 21, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    I love this! Thanks for sharing it!


  12. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    January 22, 2014 at 10:18 am

    You sure do know how to knock my socks off, Violet! The lines, “in the speech cloud above my head/the thought bubble above yours” are brilliant. Thank you for celebrating Mr. Roget and the power of words.



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