Colour me senseless

My lexicon is monochrome
delineated in ink and tongued
only with sound. No taste there
nor jot of colour in sight
how I wish for permeable partitions
to the cortex. Instead I must merely imagine

each letter as a hue: colour coded by sight
but with closed eyes, the very annunciation
bursting like powdered paint behind the retina
and the spelling of my name, dotted like a pointillist portrait:

L a shock of electric blue, less thrilling in diminutive yet pretty as a starling’s egg
A an alabaster, pillared temple, cross-barred with marble but lower-cased, a falls like ripest apricot
u in somewhat understated mode, inks itself in sepia of vintage seaside postcards
r resonates pink then orange, settling to a cushion of crushed crimson
when a returns it fleshes out in yellow-orange succulence

And words are not mere alloys
(else letter mix would meld as brown confetti). Each in its own
discreteness, a sounding board for cup to overflow puce
or Ombre shrimp-pinked violins before the music
begins and a chameleon plays pitch perfect
in tinted tonal mode.

The poet knows best
writing and reciting sounds
and all the senses
resonate


After I wrote this poem, I discovered Bernadette Sheridan, a synaesthete who has created coloured blocks for letters as she sees them – this is her version of my name. Try yours here

Poem that turns words into colours for Grace's MTB prompt: Synaesthesia

35 Comments on “Colour me senseless

  1. I can really feel the pain of synaesthesia with this

    spelling of my name, dotted like a pointillist portrait
    followed by that burst of colors, like a painter high as a kite.

    Maybe as poets we should be happy to paint just with words.

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    • ahh not literally – that would be a tatoo! I think we always try to paint sounds but I know I get lost in and for words

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  2. This says it all:

    “The poet knows best
    writing and reciting sounds
    and all the senses
    resonate”

    Color, imagery, and our captivating mind’s eye translates language, literally, emotionally, and figuratively. You describe this very well and complex. Beautiful poem.

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    • many thanks Lucy – whilst stretching imagination round coloured letters and words I nearly forgot that it is most often sounds that evoke the colour synaesthesia and that is what the poet is after

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  3. I like how you shaped your poem. It has the feel of stream of consciousness. I went to the link to see my name in color. Interesting.

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  4. I think you’ve imagined the synesthete’s experience very well here, and the final lines are just perfect because they sum up the task of a poet: thinking like a synesthete all the time!

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  5. The shape and powerful words specially in the middle part, made this a strong music to my ears. I love the burst of your imagination, like an unfolding of rainbow colors to overcome the monochrome. My cup overflows with your portrait of colors.

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    • such lovely feedback Grace – many thanks! I am glad you heard the music as it seems colour synaesthetes responds to the sounds more than see the shapes

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  6. Evocative, alluring and most importantly this poem is absolutely brilliant! I love; “And words are not mere alloys (else letter mix would meld as brown confetti).” 💝

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  7. Agree with everything the other poets said here, and as a non-poet can only say: I love it! The visual of “bursting like powdered paint behind the retina” captured me specifically.

    Went to check my own name in colours – the nickname is appealing but the full name with the reds … gaaaah 🙂

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  8. I adore the shape and form of this poem, Laura, the way it begins with a lexicon ‘monochrome / delineated in ink and tongued / only with sound’ and progresses to the annunciation of letters ‘bursting like powdered paint behind the retina’. The lowercase a falling ‘like ripest apricot’ made my mouth water – that’s got to be a form of synesthesia too! We sort of chimed in the lines: ‘…words are not mere alloys / (else letter mix would meld as brown confetti)’.I agree, the poet does know best! I tried Bernadette Sheridan’s blocks and am delighted with my colours.

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    • as always Kim you give such considered feedback – thank you for this. yes the poem follows the poet into (the struggle) of imagination but the end reassures that the way in is an auditory one rather than visual

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  9. Resonant and resonating with color and sound and feeling: marvelously crafted.

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  10. I enjoyed this so much. It’s so well constructed, and loved the way you described your name, and then the ending with the poet knows best. There is lovely sound in this.

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