It's just poetry, it won't bite


10.08.09 Posted in words to linger on by

Ray Sharp has contributed his varied poetry to these pages, but this one is very unlike the others. To be reminded of his ranging talents, read Sternwheeler, Clavicle, (  ), Under an August Moon, and Threnody for the Survivors of September 11, 2009 and his blog, The Bard of Liminga. To get your head in the right place for this poem, read Ray’s own intro:

Persons with synesthesia experience “extra” sensations, for example, the letter T may evoke navy blue or a certain sound might taste like pickles. Vladimir Nabokov and his mother were synesthetes, Kandinsky claimed to be one, Scriabin and Rimsky-Korsakov disagreed on the colors of given notes and musical keys. For most people, synesthesia is ineffable: that which by definition cannot be imparted to others or adequately put into words. It may be impossible for science to scrutinize such phenomena whose qualities must be experienced firsthand. As also with love.

By Ray Sharp


The metallic sheen of L,
the smells and taste of o and e,

the muscular feel of v,

oh, the texture, the shape of V:
arms upstretched or legs astride–
what colors do you see

in the field behind your eyes?

Do poppies bloom, do crimson fish
swim the blue-green sea?

The colors I see are not
colors of pigment,
they are light brilliant

and gem-like. I do not
have a true purple letter
or number

and I wish I did.


Last year I discovered that H had under rare circumstances
the ability to become shiny brass.

And my plain gray X one day suddenly became a delicious salmon
when I saw the name of an English town, Ixworth.


when the north sky
thrummed green waves

of whalebone and bassoon
through our chests
’til our very bones buzzed

How the cold starlight
sang spindrift and

menthol melodies?
The sweet vanilla
of Jeffrey pine,

the fresh spring wind
and melting snow?
Do you believe in love

at first smell?


Last night I dreamt of mangoes
sweet-orange dripping down
your arms and chin.

In we dove
splashed and drifted
and walked the wave-worn beach–

kelpy tide-line snake
and white sand drying
on sunburned feet.

I still taste salt
air, still see
sets of waves rolling

‘cross the page.
I still feel mangoey-orange
this blue-gray day.


Your name, Raymond, she said, tastes like chocolate.


I wake to starlight
after eight days
of snow.

Your name calls me,
Wendy, in the
northeast sky–

two Vs joined
like you and I

hand in hand
W that sings
silken purple.

So this is the color of Love.

7 Responses to “Synesthesia”

  1. Kay says:

    What do I love about this poem beyond the specific appeal to each sense? Beyond the excellent metaphors? I think it is the discovery I like most of all.

  2. Bobbie Troy says:

    This poem blew me away! Great imagery and sensitivity. Loved the last section.

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  7. Stan Galloway says:

    This poem tastes silky and jumbled at the same time. The colors wash from one end of the spectrum to the other, jumping some colors, while strumming others. The tuning senses have divine connections, as you so clearly sniff out for us. Thanks.

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