necessary whispers

observe. connect. make new.

One and One and Love


He wanted to tell the truth

But it frightened him

They frightened him

The faces

And the voices

That would never comprehend.

The way water slips through

Your hands,

He let thoughts

Drip all the way down

To the ground

Out of sight of those whose gazes

Set mazes before the ways

He wanted to go

Like fences erected

Motives inspected

By minds that never understood

Where he stood

In the first place.

“Sit down,”

He thought

And the thinking

Brought overthinking

And a sigh filled with regret

For what he could not do,

What no one knew he could


For the necessary rhythms

He had to walk over

And out to complete the tune.

The moment came

Like it had before

When he needed to live

Felt the desire to explore

But not just explore

Like he had before

This time with courage

And a sense of pride

And the fire that being alive


Lit inside his mind,

The will and the passion

To thrive

Not only survive.

“Survival is a ruse,”

He thought.

“What I need is a muse,”

He thought.

And he found one

On the other side of town

Where no one knew him—

Okay, he had to face it,

No one knew him here



But not quite alone

He felt his purpose grow

Out of their sight

Into the night

Where the we’s gather

Whose names and faces

Are all they would ever see.

A moment came

When the expectations—

And his name—

Fell to the floor

Shattered in pieces

Exposing the core

Of what he was

And was not

And all he forgot,

The rules and the fuel

Like kerosene,

That he wanted to lead the way


But not today.

Today, he wanted something


And only his

Where the passion rang true

And the choosing was

Easy to choose

Because of


Her misunderstood was clear

To him

And no longer something

For her to fear

Because he brought her near

And saw what she needed


To see and to hear

This is where he could sigh

Let his armor fly

Where she could smile

And dance

Like a child

In the midst of a world

Still unchanged

But new

Because what used to be one

And one

Became two

And all they knew

Was the truth.


copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo Credit: This poem was inspired by German artist Mark Slavin’s piece, A Man and His Ego, 50 x 35,5 cm, Watercolor (only black) on Torchon paper.  Please feel free to further explore Mark’s art on his website and/or Facebook page: Mark’s Website ,  Mark’s Facebook Page)


The Rattling Man


(Photo Credit: This poem was inspired by German artist Mark Slavin’s piece, Pub, 48 x 50 cm, watercolor on torchon paper.  Please visit his website and/or his Facebook page to further explore his work: Mark Slavin’s Art Website , Mark Slavin’s Facebook)


As the Transom window above

Coughed out a puff of smoke,

His Rocks glass below rattled

With liquor and hope—

Those bluffs of the mind

Where fairytales slither into time

And whisper their stories to men

Who sweat to believe.



“Beer before wine,

feeling fine,”

He remembered

In an audible reflection

From his university days

When his path was being laid—

Stepping-stones to this place.



His brown leather shoe

Shook as he waited

Releasing inner vibration

Anticipation of

What he had to say

About what he already

Had done

And he rolled a cigarette

While he watched for his friend

To come.



The poison lifted

Far more quickly

Than it could be sifted

To the open air beyond

These shadows—

And so his cigarette burned

Into and onto his chest—



He bit the nail of his thumb

Then another one

Pretending to groom

But exhuming the record of

Impending doom

Skipping in his mind

Like vinyl marred by drizzles of perfume.



Then a silhouette he knew

Stood in the doorway

Where light behind and

Darkness within

Blinded the Rattling Man

To the visage of his




Tall, with a balding head

Features large enough

To match his frame

And a limp to one side

As he walked toward the table—

The Rattling Man smiled

As wide as he was able.



The towering man

Laid his hand on his friend

Like a father consoling

With no words to say

And he laughed

Just a little

Because he understood the pain.



“Give me a real drink,”

The tall man called to the bar

Something brownish, no ice,

Was poured

And they sat for a moment

Drinking and

Not saying a word—



The way men do

When emotions slither around

Like venomous snakes and

The stakes are a little too high.



The Rattling Man lowered his head

A gesture of shame

Drowning in dread

He whispered the story

From the top to the end,

The deafening twists

And the blinding bends.



The Transom sputtered and wheezed

Squeezed the smog and the secrets

Through and away

Nothing could stay

Or the toxic fumes

And the names that it knew

Would choke it, finally, to death.



The towering friend

Opened the spigot

Between his ears

And his heart

The art of brotherhood

Washing him in lines

Of this play and his part—



“Once you were blue

and now you are green,”

He started with a metaphor

He hoped the Rattling Man

Would follow and see,

“Your She is the yellow

that blended the hue.”



“And now what should I do?”



The Transom lifted her eyes

To the clouds rolling by

She exhaled the question

With a vocalized sigh

Then watched it swirl

Like a flock of black birds

Floating atop a current of thickening words.



The men looked down

At the liquid they trusted

With no way to straighten

What was already adjusted

They grew silent and waited

For the next thing to say

As the Rattling Man

Drowned in green-colored thoughts

Then drifted


And further



copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

The Burning Fields

To burn.jpg

(Photo credit: Digital artist and photographer Beth Conklin‘s piece, To Burn.  Beth Conklin’s Website)


All the land was burned

And some of the sky

A cloud of smoke and ash

Crept into their eyes

While she sat motionless

Waiting for the cries to die—



She sent a dare into the night

Not spoken, but imagined,

Like a daydream taking flight,

Anticipation crowned her




The darkness that stirred

Before the darkness fell

Was invisible to the senses

But deeper than their wells

From which pure water

No longer flows—



No liquid drop to save this space

Where ravenous tongues

Snuffed smoldering grace—

In a race to reach the end

Of their doubts,

They reached the place

Where love ran out.



She sat in the ashes,

Unscathed but surprised

By the flame-charred lies

That ignited goodbyes

And the sighs

That would never be heard

Or disturbed from their places of rest—

If goodbyes be knives

And places be death.



Her dare came to this

Where yesterday dismissed

The vibrancy

Of all they built

Before the landscape’s tilt:



“My heart is an organ of fire,

as once it was writ,

it is no plaything,

my love.”



Then she stood to her feet,

Wiped the sweat from her brow,

Straightened her collar and

Exhaled her doubt,

As she walked away

She turned for a moment

To see the land

Charred with lament

“It could not be helped,

all the choices were taken

what was here is now gone

but new growth will come—

the future will reap

what the past has forsaken.”


copyright Jill Szoo Wilson


Like a Stranger or a Friend-


(Photo credit: Contemporary Romanian painter Adrian GhenieAdrian Ghenie at Nicodim Gallery.  Ghenie currently lives and works in Cluj, Romania and in Berlin, Germany.)



The sound of children calling out

On the sidewalk down below

In a rhythm that echoed like

A song but felt like

Shadows twisting through

Wind blown leaves:

Chaos filled the room

Like a ghost

That left its tomb.



A breeze tousled the curtains

And the ends of her hair

Brushing against the space at her neck

Where his lips used to touch

And sink all the way in

On lazy days

Like this:

When the breeze blew gently

And the children played.



But that was yesterday.



There was a lot she had to say

Before she could get to

The truth:

The truth that was always there

But hidden away

Behind expectations and hopes

And a low, buzzing sound

Like that which trickles

From electric chairs.



First she needed to pull

From the inside

The parts that were painted on

Colorful creations of

Imagination and

The way she hoped it would be

Before she knew that her hope

Was a slave to reality

Because it was chained to a lie.



She took the canvas off the wall

Of her heart and looked at it

A while

She wondered at the shades

And the shapes and

The ways in which her mind

Coalesced them into one:

From many parts

A whole.



The sum appeared like a game

Connecting dots

Not meant to touch—

And she felt a sort of rush

A blush, red and soft

Pale and hot—

Push through the back of her cheeks

And sprawl

Like a cat on its back.



And a cell phone rang

On the street below—

“Hallo!” said a man

Who spoke a language

She did not know

But his voice filled the room

Like a stranger or a friend—

Like a distraction

As the sun grew dim.



Second she needed to push

Back the time

Rewind to the moments

Before the storm

When the clouds rolled by

Instead of vomiting

Raindrops and sighs—

Before she knew what it was

To need.



She traveled there—

To the past—

And she sat before it

Like a screen on a wall

Watching the choices

Hearing the voices

She shook her head and

Noted the dread

As the film began to near the end.



Her foot reached through the screen,

She stepped into the past to look

Like a stranger

Traveling through

But all the players knew

Who she was

Why she came

And what she had to do—

And she did it.



“I love you,” he said

But she could not hear him—

The visitor from the future

Covered her ears and

Hummed a sunken, soulful tune

As He continued to speak

Like a leak dripping

From a sink

Slow and steady, constant.



He said it once more

A little louder than before

But the visitor begged

Herself not to hear

And she wrestled with the moment

And did all that she could

To capture her own attention

And lead her gently down

A different path:

Away from the spark

That lit the fire

Which burned too bright

Like a fuse

Or a noose

That strangled her

With compassion

And then passion and then

The truth.



And a garbage truck rattled through

Below and out of her view—

The rumbling of the engine,

The glass bottles crashing down

Saved her loneliness

With sound

Like a life preserver

To which she clung

And cuddled like a doll.



Third she needed to say—

Now in the present once more—

The words

That erased the first,

To bend her hello to goodbye

And the buzzing from before

Filled her soul,

Which felt better than tears,

Because anger is easier than pain.



She let him know

She let him go,

With all her plans on the floor—

The shapes and the colors

The words that he uttered

Still ringing in her ear

And a fear that

There was never enough

To bridge the space

Between her heart and his.



And the sun dipped all the way down

It fell to the ground

Like a puddle it cascaded

Through gutters and it flowed

Away from the moment

Down to the sea

Where memories and colors and chaos

Go to be free.


copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

Caroline, Part 1


(Photo credit: German artist Ruprecht von Kaufmann‘s piece, Zuschauer 2014, Oil on Linoleum on Panel, 19,6 x 30 cm.


The night sky was a pale black—reflecting incandescence and the moon—but the stars had fallen long before, leaving only a satiny texture in the sky. Or maybe she just could not see them anymore. Caroline walked with the collar of her coat embracing her neck in the back, on both sides and around to just under her bottom lip, which unconsciously quivered in the cold. It was the kind of cold that pushes people through doorways and forces them to tumble down long stairways onto subway platforms below. It was the kind of cold that twists itself into cords and whips innocent pedestrians like slaves who dream of running away. Caroline could barely feel it though, her mind hovered above her head and so her senses moved on instinct, like animals tiptoeing around and through her brain.


Caroline’s hands were clenched into fists deep inside the pockets of her new black coat. Only her thumbs were free and she moved them back and forth over the surface of her tightened fingers. Thumbs with nowhere to go so they paced like a mother waiting at the window for her child who was expected home hours ago. She could feel her fingernails—painted black—digging into the center of her palms and she thought, “I should keep my finger nails shorter.” It was an unnecessary thought, the kind we all think when we want to find something normal to focus on: anything other than what is necessary.


The pavement under her boots—black and shining with polished leather—felt harder than it had the last time she walked along this city street. She noticed cracks between slabs of concrete and also running diagonal from the corners. “A heavily trafficked path,” she thought. She felt small as she imagined the others who walked there everyday because she was just a stranger there. She was a stranger whose friends had gone long before.


Caroline had come here years ago, when the wrinkles around her lips were not as deep, when her eyes were a little bit brighter as they reflected the stars that used to shine above and inside of her. She remembered the last time she was here for a moment—the memory floated like a yellow leaf falling from an Autumn tree—and she watched it as she walked. She smiled softly and shook her head from side to side, so gently that the movement was almost imperceptible to the leaf that was looking back at her. For a moment Caroline loosened the fist in her right hand and she imagined what it was like to feel another’s skin next to hers. Soon, however, the leaf had fallen all the way down—the memory that is—and Caroline was once again alone.


Except for a man sitting against a bumpy brick wall covered in trash bags and regret. “Do you have anything to give to me? Some food or some spare change?” he asked.


Caroline kept walking, looking down at the cracks in the pavement and feeling the weight of the man’s stare. Just as she was about to pass him, the Trash Bag Man rustled inside his plastic and he said one more time, “Do you have anything to give to me?” Caroline was surprised by the man’s insistence—some kind boldness mixed with desperation, which was a mixture of emotions she also recognized inside of herself—so she answered him, “I wish I had something to give.”


“Are you saying you have nothing?” he asked.


“Nothing I can give,” she answered.


“Nothing you will give,” he challenged.


Caroline thought for a moment about her new black coat. She felt her boots gently huddling around her feet, and about the heavy wool sweater, which clung to the sides of her small waist in an almost violent gesture of not letting go. She thought about the gloves lying lifeless inside her red traveling purse.


“Okay. Yes. That is right. Nothing I will give.” She could feel anger rise from her sense of guilt and the frustration she held with her own selfishness. Instead of directing it inward she said to the Trash Bag Man, “Do you have anything you will give to me?” The moment the words marched out of her mouth, like tiny soldiers carrying sharpened spears gleaming under a flickering streetlight, she regretted them.


The man was not shocked by her challenge and he answered her—almost too quickly—as though he already knew what she was going to say, “I will give you my time.”


Caroline pushed air through her lips, like a horse that is discontent, and she watched as the cold night air turned her breath into smoke. She braced herself as she felt the tiny soldiers mount their next attack from behind her lips, “I don’t want your time. I do not want anything you would give to me.” Caroline watched her words fall into the plastic covering the man’s legs and she squinted as the spears they were carrying tore little holes in the bag. “I won,” she thought. But she said, “Good luck.”


Caroline continued to walk down the street and she tried not to hear the Trash Bag Man pulling his plastic tighter against his legs. She noted to herself, “He could have offered me his trash bags.” But it did not make her feel better.


copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

How To Rise and What To Do


(Photo Credit: This poem was inspired by American installation artist and assemblage sculptor, Edward Keinholz’s piece,  In the Infield Was Patty Peccavi.)


Consciousness rising on the wings of a sound

Blaring out as the sun glares down

Calling me into the day

In only the way a machine can arouse

And disregard the drowse and

Pull my hand forward

Like Pavlov’s dog

Reaching for a bone.



The machine sets the tone

With a rigid pace

Delicate as a calloused hand

Caressing pantyhose or

Hand sewn lace

Wrapped around the legs

Of a beautiful woman

Smoking a long, slender cigarette.



I lost the bet

Between the moon and the sun

Middle man to what I wanted and

What I knew I must become

And so again, I rise

Like an obedient fog

Lifting from a treasure filled bog

No pirate came to loot.



Throat covered in soot

I cough and dust comes out—

Not the kind you can see,

The kind you can feel

When you wanted to say a thing

That is true but

No one really understood the meaning

Or you—



I sneeze like the color blue

Mellow enough for the sky

And deep enough for salty fathoms

Where currents travel through

And mysterious things sway—

Supple enough to be moved

Strong enough to stay—

And then begins the day.



The side of my neck leads the way

Then follows my breast

And my belly, which sway,

I am traveling through the age

When muscles sing with muffled voices

A little bit of tightness

Wrapped around choices

And the gravity of yesterday’s Noon.



My shoulders erect, my eyelids immune

To the pull of invisible balloons

Tied with strings attached

Ascending with a helium hope

Pulling to carry me up and through—

A gentle persuasion to stand and to move—

Yet my eyelids protest and rest

In the colorful shadows drawn on by light.



There is stillness and there is flight

Invading my room—

Rocking like a newborn’s cradle

Fighting like an old man’s fright—

One whispering a map of retreat

The other laying chills on my skin

Bumpy with a battle waged against




I am hypnotized by the seductive treat

Not to choose,

I seize with silent tears,

Which cling to no emotion

But fall with misplaced devotion

To security—enemy of the future,

A temptress whose promises dull

My sense of mutiny—



So flows my rehearsed litany

Of past and further back,

Of angles I have mined and unpacked

Of risks I wanted to take

Of decisions I thought I would make

And a stake of failure

Sticking me

To the ground.



Then a sound

Like a song

But more piercing

And singing on for too long

Like an alarm

But not the same one

That began the day

And the thoughts and the decay.



One single note and then an array—

An audible morsel

And then a buffet—

Rush through the window

At which I debate

The winged singer comes too

Singing a tune with no words

‘Til my eyelids abate.



My curiosity inflated,

“Why have you come?”

I asked with a stutter

And then the bird mutters,

“I did not come,

I was sent.”

I want to believe

He was sent just for me.



“Out there—somewhere—you are free

do not stay here long,

I would hate to see—“

He interrupts my plea,

“I can leave when I wish

and so can you

neither is trapped,

we’ve directions to pursue.”



Then he sang through

And as the rhythm grew

A seed inside of me

Rattled anew—

Because one time I knew—

Where there is breath

There is time, and where there is time

There is Hope for something new.



I leaned forward as if I knew

How to rise and what to do

Then through the sound

Of my knees protesting

I stood to my feet

And looked through the frame

In a clear view investing

In what to become, not what I became.



“Courage,” the bird exclaimed,

“I knew it was there

buried between your flesh

and your bone,

pulsing in veins

that are not merely your own

but mirroring those who came before—

the ones who shared

their blood and

their stories

their failures and


and then the ones who came after

who collect your tears and

your laughter

in treasure boxes of their own.”



My indecision was overthrown

Like a dog who wants steak

But is given a bone—

It’s for his own good and

For his delight—

I let breath fall into my hand,

Then followed my hope,

Next came purpose and, finally,

A plan.


copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

Hush, My Dear.


(Photo credit: This poem was inspired by mixed media artist Mark Waldman‘s piece, “Psychpuppet lll,” available at El Cuervo Gallery, El Segundo, CA.)


Quiet now

You half of a whole

Who in being seen

Meets your goal

And being touched—

Like a violin—

Strikes a chord

Dissonant but

Silent still.



Hush my dear

Let it trickle down

From eyes

Mixed with brown

And a shade of

Wisdom not profound

As much as weak

With a penchant

For not sticking around.



There was a word

I longed to hear

Tied to the back

Of your throat—

Loosened by

Bubbles in a beer

Or stinging swirls

Inhaled between

Being okay and

Shrugging in fear.



So now is now

Or, at least no more then,

Moments away from


Years from yesterday

But stuck in a pondering

Swimming in a wondering

Of drowning letters

Detached and suffocating

Signed with your name.



But still, you say nothing.



Presently, a sentence forming—

Then, conceived as a question

Now, shaped as a warning—

Spray painting the sides

Of my mouth

Colors brilliant but

They taste like doubt

Still, let the cans be emptied

And the sentence come out

Arrayed in vibrant display

Like a vomiting spout.



“I give no credence

to what they thought—

the ones whose judgment

was tied like a knot

at the center of you

and I

and the time that went by

in silence and

steam pouring out from

the sides of my ears

like a cartoon whose head

might explode.”



Sorry to unload.

Oops. No, I’m not.



“Rolling inside my tongue

are the anchors of love

and I promise

they were enough

to keep us grounded

instead you jumped out

and drowned in the

waves of ‘goodbye and

I would try but my courage

spilled out’

like oil contaminating, suffocating

innocent ducks and

the part of my heart

that gave a fuck.”



Your visage complex

Shaded with light

Contoured in darkness—

Three dimensions of

Your one-dimensional lack—

Rises from the back

Screams to the front

Where you speak

Like Big Brother

Thirsty for blood

And for the hunt.



The projector is filled

With your face—

My god,

What a waste—

And the taste of regret

Pushes behind my lips

Clenched with force

Like fists

And you tell me,

Almost fell me,

With the words

That are signed with your name

Now composed

In the quiver and taking aim,

“You are to blame.”

Hit me in my chest—

Where you used to

Lay your breast—

And watch me resist

The temptation to fall,

“I will wear the blame

like a badge of atonement,

like an arrow doused in flames,

but there is one thing

I cannot do—

could never agree to—

this badge will never

undo the truth

you know is true,

I will stand here for them

clench my teeth for them

look like the monster for them

but the weight of the guilt

will reside


of you.”



Be quiet now

And I will too.



There was a time

When the rhymes

Hidden in these unformed words beat

Like a drummer on repeat

Syncopation rattled me

And all I never said

And the dread

Defining the we I knew us to be—

But there is a free,

A settled and buried and a—

What is the word?—

A me

Whose jaw has been loosened

With the rusted metal

Of speaking what is real

And what is no longer





copyright Jill Szoo Wilson




Spoken Word: Unsticking What Was Stuck


(Photo Credit: Isabell Kamp‘s painting A Secret is a Trap (Oil, Acrylic, Fabric, Yarn, Paint
50 x 70 cm).  You can visit her website here, )



The lines of a mind aren’t written in rhyme.

They stagger and stretch and bide their time

‘Til the day they make their way to drop into light from deeper night inside.

Insight can’t stick to the walls of my brain,

Insane with round and round and round

Like a merry-go-round, grounded.

Rounding out “abouts” and doubt with flares of

Insignificant thought bursting into flames of fear and where do I go

From here

So near

To both a tear and a smile

All the while

Hiding in go seek and find

Or sit and stay the day away with idle nothingness and

Wishes and

What ifs. . .

What if?

What if yes and what is not?

What if the what if’s I got are dreams splayed in two

Caught between memories of what I thought I’d be and what

Stands before you-


Which me will I be if the what if’s write my history?

Do I stand in the shadow and wait for someone else to give me a pen or


My hand and hold the quill and quell the inability

To walk

To move

To go to the west the south the north the east

The beasts waiting to devour make me cower


And cover my head

Stay in bed

Pound my hand into my fist and

Listlessly wait.

Wait like a tick with no tock stuck in the middle of two

And three




Not wanting to

Exploit my God-given purpose with a bowing to fear

Giving over the sheer strength of my will to move.

Which me will I be?

Which side will I see?

When I unstick what was stuck

Like a steak in my dreams

To be who God called, is calling, has made me to be?


Not free

But free.

Who the son set free is free, indeed.

The sun will no longer set in the besetting sin of worry and doubt

A panic without danger

A depression without death or tragedy or loss

A sadness with no reason to be sad

Saddened by the time I’ve wasted

Called to glory

No more hesitating

Time to be me,





A car with a spoiler

A train on a schedule

A plane with a pilot awake at the controls

Controlling the weight inside and



Breaking the sound barrier

To fly.


© Jill Szoo Wilson

Traveling Into After


(Photo Credit: Gabriel Pacheco.



There was a before

There will be an after

In the middle was a question

In the end, an answer.



The answer I sought

Was not what I found

You were not what you said

Still, I played your clown.



I performed my role

With the grace of an actress

Bowing before the crowd

As the grand curtain came down.



I knew more than you know

Felt the crack before it showed

Hoped you would apply the glue

Yet somehow—I knew.



Not all was lost

Time to count the cost

Pick up the pieces and

Move into after,

Without you.



copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑