learning to read by inches

he is learning
to read
one inch
at a time

he knows the words
he sees
the sentences

he can take in
and tell you
by the page

but he has never learned
to read the words
meaning by meaning

or image
off the page
and right into his mind
as though a real thing
just happened
just happen

if he reads it right
the next inch
of words
also holds a picture
if he
can only see it

so he reads
goes back to read the same things
and then

he isn’t satisfied
any more
with knowing
a story

he needs more
he needs what every inch
of words
might hold

© Frank Prem, 2016

Poem #12: trad-ie wars


26 thoughts on “learning to read by inches

  1. Important poem…the hidden truth is this might be an adult…maybe a neighbor. This poem hits close to home for me. I was a Reading First Literacy Coach for several years in the Fort Worth ISD…but, I missed the classroom. Taking a “picture walk” or “picture talk” through a book is a good strategy. It is so exciting to see a child realize the magic of reading. I don’t know how to read Braille, but can you just imagine the worlds it opens up!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Pat.

      Thank you.

      I confess I wasn’t thinking that broadly when I wrote this, but you’re right, of course.

      The world of words and reading and understanding is so vital. At the moment, I’m focused on drawing imagery out of phrases and ideas that I read and trying to make them my own by a poetic interpretation (something like that). I’m enjoying it very much.



      Liked by 2 people

    • I had the same interpretation of this poem: someone struggling to find more in the words than simply one word after another after another. To me, reading (fiction) is like a movie unspooling in my mind, not a series of words or letters. How terrible not to be able to experience that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Word play word smithing striking it out forging it in steel or lines as feathery as sugar icing …. words – literal interpretations meanings layers hidden revealed metaphors images ideas suggestions nuances ambiance atmosphere …. all in context – yet extracted and gazed upon as if peering into a crystal orb – what wonders will never cease …. brows furrow and crease …. it is an endless journey into the exploration of the defined and precise and yet, by its very nature, the imprecisely understood – infinite possibilities – learning to “see” to “read” to “write” – it changes everything we thought we knew – to wake up and know we have understood and known nothing – bitter sweet yet honeyed golden – the taste of freedom and wind currents that lift us, if we would but glide ….

    Liked by 1 person

      • It’s an addiction that you don’t know you have until you ‘feel’ the microphone in front of you. After that, it’s either a developed skill or, eventually, rubbish no-one wants to listen to. It’s great – you should make an opportunity to try if you haven’t. You’d be all over it, I reckon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL …. well, I made my first “official” stage appearance in Kindergarten and won the school public speaking contest (incidentally I publicly told off my first smarmy store saleswoman at 2) and somewhere in my late teens, I was 16 or 17, I literally decided, mid audition for the school play, that I really didn’t want to be “in the spot light” ….. so I stepped down and off, so to speak. Although I often find myself still in the limelight, I’m not sure I truly appreciate it, and I’m not sure I’d want to be actually reading anything I wrote …. but quite a number of people have told me I’d probably be a cinch in slam poetry readings etc. Maybe one day.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Never slam events Pat. Not for me. I wouldn’t care for that at all, and don’t respect the medium/movement or whatever it is. I find them impossible to watch without getting angry

        I favor a regular spoken word venue – name on the chalkboard, a few minutes, a few pieces and gone.



        Liked by 1 person

      • That sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate your words. The slam poetry readings I’ve seen, not in person mind, haven’t been “combative” …. just open mic type things, but the words and perhaps people reading have been rather engaged. I’ve enjoyed it. But anything that literally becomes “game |reality t.v. show” over the top is not of interest to me – I mean, it’s about the words ….. and the delivery is important, but it’s about the words ….

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hells bells, I’ve responded to this, when I meant to respond to that …

      Ok, this is as you’ve summed it, Pat – there is reading, and there is the wonder of being exposed to ideas. This was in the middle of an introduction of 19 pages that saw production of about 30 odd new poems. Amazing (to me).

      Liked by 1 person

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