The Meaning of Everything

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic

“Words don’t mean anything…”

My friend snapped at me after I mentioned something that hurt me

Standing there, I could only think if I didn’t have words… I couldn’t even make meaning out of what I’m thinking right now

How frozen I was in the moment, and yet in my understanding I could only speak and repeat out loud, with my tongue up against my cheek

“Words mean everything, I couldn’t even get a fucking ride home without words!”

“Hey, watch your language!”

She shifted in her chair, still tense but with a half-smile

“What do words even mean?”

I deliberated in front of an invisible judge

“Words mean…”

“Nothing”, again snaps my friend and fellow stranger, as she cranes her head closer, seething with anger

“Alright…” I flick my invisible cigarette and rub away the evidence of this affliction, the burning ashes slip and cling to the ground, as I trip over these verbs, falling like obstacles in streams of consciousness

Going through the scenario in my head, picking apart what could’ve triggered this reaction

Imagining in a swift second a gun held to her head

Watching her lips move, yelling help, while I see her only in screeching silence

With the highest of frequency, vocal suicide, the terror in her eyes

“Those words stole your voice, didn’t they?”

The world starts moving again, chattering incoherently resumes in the background, and normalcy inhabits this temporary living space

Surrounded by the carbonation of beers sliding towards outreached hands

“What are you talking about?”

She chimes in,

“You’re just overreacting”

“You’re just so sensitive”

“Words don’t mean anything…”

She crosses her arms in front of her chest

Yes, they are very temporary and chill in the air and settle there

Never to return, they’re gone

Words don’t matter

What used to matter, only changes forms

And becomes a trigger of some forlorn painful memory

Where she was once dismissed

“Poor girl, how dearly I’ve loved you…”

You were hurt so long ago when word bombs nearly missed you

And you turned toward the wreckage and felt the scathing heat singe the tiny hairs on your cheek

And your reality fragmented into shards of broken memory

You arose from the carnage unscathed, but forever changed

You look at me now, lip quivering ever so slightly

With that tip of tongue memory that you will never let go

How it felt

When your language was stolen in exchange for peace

“I’m sorry love”

“I hope that one day, your world is no longer a transaction”

“Or constant threats of impending war”

“But a place of endless love”


“And imbued with a language that heals you”

These are the things I wanted to say, in hindsight

As she slinked away in her chair, shivering, with her walls built up to the sky

But I didn’t.

If only life was like a poem…

And we could say all the right things at the right time

But unfortunately, we often only inject meaning into things

When they are already over.




“I love you a lot, I really do”

My throat welled up inside me

“But I can’t be treated this way anymore”

I stood up and walked away under the street lights into the night

As she became smaller behind me

And she yelled at me in silence

As bombs lit up the sky.

Submitted: May 18, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Roxanne Byrne. All rights reserved.

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