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Saturday, 30 January 2010

Body and Soul

Someone threw dice, handfuls of them, at the moon.
White boxes, windows set like pock marks in their sides.
The dice were loaded, missed the dream
and fell to earth among these hills -
a windfall for a gambler -
And where they fell we christened them a town.

Earth-creatures crawling out of slimy caves
occupied the empty boxes by first light,
revelled in them, thought them fine,
and, peering through the pock-marks,
found the scenery divine.
The boxes caught the feel of life within,

refused to stay inert. Between them, underground,
live cables ran for power and light,
which feelings somehow infiltrated. Grill
and fissure fanned intoxicating draughts -
essences so close to breath
that brick and mortar softened into life.

The scattered cubes were drawn together,
cell to cell with common boundaries,
into some kind of body.
Excitement like an earthquake shook
the stone and rattled
the small windows to their bones.

The creatures felt the life of brick and stone,
but knew that theirs was more,
that theirs was married to a soul of unknown kind.
From soul come dreams
whose contents are the things we do by day.
(And what they did was cover earth in boxes -

both earth and earth's sublime austerity.)
Soon flights of fancy flew them to the moon,
for moon could understand what earth could not,
and moon knew barren beauty like a tapestry knows thread -
and beauty is not fazed by petrifaction or its threat,
but works in simple ways:

the same repeated subtleties bring anarchy to law.
Self-replication. Moon as blueprint for the earth,
that first earth, Eden-earth. For them,
our ancestors, the nearly-men, becoming men,
the caves were Eden, soulless Eden, Eden
replicating semblances and presences,

impressions and facades, in their new city.
They could not free themselves from it,
it followed them down every street
and slid into their boxes - boxes
time would blend in with the hills. Theirs was
the truth that homes make strangers of us all.

Haiku #34

After the recession...
divorce rates falling
suicides increasing.


Anonymous said...
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Barry said...

The last line is a shocker Dave. What a wonderful and imaginative piece of writing.

Karen said...

I really like the images and the story of this piece. The use of dice - chance the determinant - sets the tone for the whole thing. I like the image of the missing the goal and settling for earth, the second choice while never losing the desire to attain the unattainable and the continuing attempt to transcend their lives. That's a great last line.

As much as I've enjoyed your haiku, it is always the depth of thought in your longer pieces that really moves me.

Kass said...

I love the evolution in this poem. Quite gripping.
...and the truth in the Haiku.

Kass said...

That's a great slideshow in your sidebar.

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steven said...

dave i admire your ability to take a thought and weave it into the broader tapestry of poetry. the journey of the unpacking is so clvere and insightful. like barry, i was surprised by the last line and then again - it echoes an understanding of one function of homes. to contain, to refine, to define. have a great day dave and thanks for this. steven

Dianne said...

Interesting format. Almost a chant, a stream of images, links, without rhyme but rhythm.

I like hearing it out loud.
Thanks for visiting my site.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Good poem Dave. Up here in The Dales I always think God threw the houses up in the air and let them land any which way - quite of ten the garden to one house runs along the side of the next door house - and often one window looks directly into another. It is tru though that, particularly in cities, once inside our houses we tend to stay there and our neighbours are always strangers. Not like that in the countryside thank goodness.

PS Good and interesting topic for haiku again.

Raj said...

divorce rates falling...no wonder suicides were increasing. maybe they thought that if we cant live together peacefully maybe we d peacefully. hmmph.

the idea of boxes was great.

The boxes caught the feel of life within...the outside seems wonderful when u r in a cage right?
and then the irony at the end. strangers n homes. definitely a ten on ten.

ps: u didn't wish my ex-frnd a happy bday. :(

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Dave. I found your blog through steven's golden fish. Love your haiku particularly. Will follow.

Helen said...

... for moon could understand what earth could not ... (my favorite line) and the Haiku ??? How sadly true.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

A surprising maze.
A riddle that calls me in, with sealing force of the last line.

Madame DeFarge said...

Love the haiku. Great poem and excellent imagery.

JeannetteLS said...

Ah, dave. I come home to your blog to rest sometimes. Like now. Thank you.

Harlequin said...

quite imaginative and provocative, and capped off with the haiku; the journeys in here are both intriguing and unsettling.

Shadow said...

throwing dice at the moon? damn i love that image!!! well done dave.

Dave King said...

I hadn't thought the line was shocking, but I must admit that you are not alone with the thought. As always, the comment is much appreciated.

I fever I publish a book I shall get you to write the blurb for me. Thanks for the comment.

Kass Appreciate both observations - all three!!

And thanks for yours. Yes, define was pretty near to what I had in mind.

I'm getting tht kind of remark quite a lot, now. I really must try to do something about my voice - mind you, many better than me have tried.

Interesting observations - and raising the equally interesting questions of how well we can ever know our neighbours and the homes formative role in that.

It seems the theory is that folk are staying together because they cannot afford to split. The thought that they are suicidal beacause they are staying together is chilling, to say the least.

A warm welcome to my blog. Thanks for stopping by. Look forward to further visits.

The two observations I most hoped I might get! Thanks, you've cheered me no end.

Love the comments. Thanks.

Madame DeFarge
Thanks for that.

That's as nice a thing as anyone could say. Thank you.

I guess that's how I feel, basically, about journeys in general: there is something intriguing and something unsettling about most of them.

That was an image I didn't have to find. It found me. Thanks.

Jim Murdoch said...

Powerful central metaphor. Very readable. My only thought is the last line. I don't see any real evidence that these creatures were not strangers to each other beforehand. Perhaps it just needs a touch to suggest that a clan came out of the caves. Just a thought.