The article discusses the reasons for the pronounced interest of cubo-futurists in the possibilities of the poetic word and the nature of their experiments with linguistic material. The author proceeds from the fact that for the artists of the early Russian avant-garde, the laws of language and the system of cultural conventions are an artificially created barrier that protects the sphere of human existence from the surplus of naturally emanating energy. This protects society from shocks, but at the same time deprives it of the opportunity to develop. All the poets of the “Gilea” group saw as their most important task the elimination of this gap between objective reality and the sphere of semiosis, but the most convincing solutions were offered by Vladimir Mayakovsky, Velimir Khlebnikov and Alexei Kruchenykh. The purpose of this article is to characterize the strategies developed by these artists for overcoming the linguistic dogma of the previous culture and to determine the range of possibilities for the future. A structural-semiotic approach to the analysis of avant-garde texts was used. In this way it can be shown that the poetic work with words and the variants proposed by the three authors proceeded in different directions and was in many respects mutually exclusive. While the poetics of Mayakovsky assumed the convergence of words and things, Khlebnikov's experiments were carried out to balance both, and Kruchenykh’s zaum creativity took the word out of any control, except for the author's will. Even if different poets used the same words to denote the genres and types of creativity they discovered, they were talking about dissimilar phenomena. This is demonstrated by comparing the zaum of Khlebnikov with the zaum of Kruchenykh. Each of the creative projects proposed by the three poets was an experiment to identify certain limiting possibilities of the word, therefore, in the work of all three poets it did not lose its meaning.