Until the Words Came

Until the Words Came


Guy Reed & Cheryl A. Rice

Sample Poems

Until The Words Came

Cheryl A. Rice

I have lost the patience with which I could discern shadow from light,

the quiet solitude it takes to document each leaf, each freckle.

I still have the eye, can frame with my thumbs a striking composition,

branch at odds with a fan of needles, purring green pelt at my grey sneakers.

But where to begin? Shadows shift with the sun, temperature drops,

my fingers ache with repetition of sketch, erase, again.

From the time I could hold a pencil I could make it do my bidding,

until the words came, invisible flood of names

for the animals that leapt, still leap in my spring brain.

The sun is too fast for all I have to sing, a picture's not worth near

what I want you to know, what I need to speak in black and white.

A snapshot is close; these sharp figures get closer, as close as I can

with all this dark to do before nightfall.


Guy Reed

I took the devil out of my poem,

he was clogging my voice box with decaying spiders.

I took the devil out of my poem,

but I left in the neck kissing and ear nibbling because it’s angelic.

I took the devil out of my poem

because pus filled my eyes.

Though they make nothing happen, I wanted talk of poems.

Every poem is a love poem. I was tired of talk about nothing.

I took the devil out of my poem

because we see death every day and can do nothing

except waltz; life-two-three, death-two-three.

I took the devil out of my poem

because those who die unjustly return with murder on their minds.

I took the devil out of my poem

because Vincent Van Gogh died on a Tuesday.

I took the devil out of my poem

because he despises innocence,

because he loves love, but he only loves with intent.

I took the devil out of my poem

because I hate the sound of grinding words against my teeth,

he turns them to dust along with my books, my fingers, my pens

and bricks of my convictions.

I took the devil out of my poem

because the God-fearing keep putting him back in there,

there is no caesura the devil cannot fill

with vanity and pride.

I took the devil out of my poem

because the suicides are enough to break the heart.

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Take this ride! Seasoned and skilled poets Rice and Reed have fashioned a well-oiled tandem bicycle of a book, exploring the varied landscape of the life in poetry. Both draw inspiration from famous poets, flights of fancy, nature, or the corner store, and celebrate in “leaping, zigzagging, nectar-drinking” words. We are fortunate indeed they waited Until The Words Came “white-hot and heavy from the forge,” for they express our “one great heart...one endless history.

— Irene O’Garden, off-Broadway playwright, poet, Pushcart Prize winner
Until the Words Came is a soft duel between equally matched players, Guy Reed and Cheryl A. Rice. In an open Catskill field at dawn, without seconds, they come to aim poems at each other: poems culled from dream and memory; about language, written, spoken and unspoken; poems about readings – the Dodge, the Colony Café; poems about poets – Lev, Sexton, Kunitz, Collins, Plath, O’Hara, Ashbery. The honor to uphold is poetry, and Reed and Rice uphold it well. The poems in Until the Words Came…want…to ride in a town car. And they do! Having arrived at the match in separate carriages, the two winners leave their isolated clearing in a single, black sedan, headed for Kingston, the new Paris!   
— Janet Hamill
It’s not unusual for poets to tackle the subject of craft or the ghosts and mentors who inspired their path. What sets Cheryl A. Rice & Guy Reed’s Until The Words Came apart from so many collections is a thoughtful conviction, a strength of heart that makes their words more than just raw emotion, or a polished sense of poetics. It is all of these things. The late Richard Hugo once said, “Poetry is the art of meaning what you say.” Well, Rice and Reed mean every word, and their work together offers a great sense of balance, in a world that sure could use some.
— John Dorsey