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Monday, 13 April 2009

The Shivering


The past is an old house
of groaning timbers,
full of bumps and whispers
that disturb our sleep.

The darkness shivers
like a wet dog
tossing constellations
from a firmament of fur.

Dawn's light unwraps
the sycamore, pulls back
the shadows, tissue-thin,
beginning at

the top-most leaf, continuing
down to the bole
of hearts and arrows
carved in innocence.

An image of God's bounty:
the tree in leaded panes,
reflected, faceted,
fragmented, whole

as images we keep
of winter chimney smoke,
the raw material
for ghosts we make

more easily than daisy
chains on warmer days.
(Our spirit beasts
roam everywhere.)

At dusk the tree
rolls out its shadow,
stretches it
down Longman Hill,

then loses it
in tints and textures
of a woodland canopy,
like water finding sand.


The deep past is a ruined house.
Bones lie beneath,
for which we scratch and paw
to flesh our images.

Beyond recovery,
the buried sycamore
can throw no darkness,
but must keep it hidden,

must clasp it to itself,
become the darkness
that we penetrate
at our great peril.

The smoke has gone; the ghosts
have taken a more solid state;
the sycamore bestows
obscurity. The ruins

whisper; groans and bumps
become the sucks and squelches
of the bog, the squeamishness
and shivering of faith.

Here's hoping you all had a good Easter. I did, which is why I am a couple of days behind with my visiting and now have to begin the task of catching up.


Rachel Green said...

How beautiful!

I could see/hear/smell that old tree.

Shadow said...

what a great-reading poem.

Roxana said...

thank you for this beautiful poem, Dave. this is so great:

The deep past is a ruined house.
Bones lie beneath,
for which we scratch and paw
to flesh our images.

Beyond recovery,
the buried sycamore
can throw no darkness.

I am glad you had a blessed Easter, we will only celebrate in a week, being orthodox. how strange...

Aniket Thakkar said...

Though I've read only a few of your posts till now Dave, but this one is undoubtedly my favorite till now.

I have spent countless hours thinking over past and how it can easily grip our present if we let it. Yet some of the sweetest memories lie in it that one must preserve to define existence.

Its the most fascinating topic for me and you have written a masterpiece on it.

Thank you so much for this...

Stephen Dell'Aria said...

Wow!!! I will be re-reading this one for some time. Excellent poem, Dave....very good.

Jim Murdoch said...

I don't have anything constructive to say about the poem itself. Everything can be improved but where you would start on this one is beyond me today. I love the distinction between the 'past' and the 'deep past' - very evocative.

Good use of language and excellent imagery. Quite possibly the best poem of yours that I've read to date.

Unknown said...

This is a superb poem-- the image of the dog shaking "constellations" from a firmament of fur" is really arresting; & I also liked the "winter chimney smoke" very well. As Shadow said, a poem that reads very well.

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

"at dusk the tree rolls out it's shadow" and the "shivering of faith"........WOW Dave, that's just beautiful.
You have such talent......I'm well jealous :)

Steady On
Reggie Girl

Tess Kincaid said...

Wonderfully metaphoric. And yes, like the others have said, it does read well.

Cat said...

I have enjoyed this poem so much. I love reading it aloud in this quiet morning. Thank you!

LORENZO said...

"The past is a house of groaning timbers..." what a captivating first line. It pulled me in and pushed me down the page. All the best, LL.

Unknown said...

I'm glad you had a good Easter David. Thanks for continuing to feed our visual and verbal appetites...

Anonymous said...

Oh, I liked that one! Loved the part about the "spirit beasts".

The Weaver of Grass said...

I like the way you have distinguished between the past and the deep past - and suggested that it is better not to go into the deep past. I would agree with that. This poem made me think Dave.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

Very nice poem! I have opened a semi-public blog for others to share poetry and short work if you'd like to take part. Just email me or leave a comment on my blog on this post and I'll send you an invite. If you're interested, of course.

Madame DeFarge said...

Loved this poem and the imagery in it. I like the distinction between the past and the deep past.

I particularly like the last line of the 'squeamishness and shivering of faith'. Somehoe seems apt.

Fantastic Forrest said...

This poem intrigued me. Why the sycamore? Did I even know what a sycamore looks like? I'm not sure. I like the photos I found of English sycamores. Most of the American ones were sort of boring. But I thought this was interesting:

Annie Wicking said...

Wow, what a wonderful poem... you are up there with the best, Mr. King

Unknown said...

Hello Dave,

I really like part 1. And I also like the imagery of the second stanza.

Glad you had a good time over the holidays!

Helen said...

Dave, your work deserves time and effort in reading ~ but so worth the journey ......... thank you. I think I loved this more than any other you have written.

Lucas said...

I love the image "tossing constellations from a firmament of fur..." It makes for me the balancing point of the two poems. A sense of the universal as counterpoint to the darker vision of the second poem.

Karen said...

You're mining those tunnels again, Dave. The past, the deep past the ghosts pull you still.

Carl said...

Hi Dave -

Strong imagery. I love it. Can feel the cold and shadows.

Cecile/DreamCreateRepeat said...

"dawn's light unwraps the sycamore"


Cloudia said...

"tossing constellations
from a firmament of fur."

Well done!
Deeply enjoyed!

Poetic Artist said...

The poetry is wonderful. I am glad you had a nice holiday and I am glad your back..

Unknown said...

What a moving beautiful peace. Amazing!!

Dave King said...

Leatherdykeuk Thanks for that. Much appreciated.

Shadow Thanks for stopping by.

Roxana Thanks for all that feedback.
Strange, indeed. Our Easter is determined by the phases of the moon. I imagine yours is also? Every blessing to you for yours.

Aniket Very manmy thanks for those, alas, too-generous remarks. Much appreciated, though.

Stephen Thanks a lot. Most encouraging.

Jim Thanks a lot for those remarks Jim - I found them very constructive! Because of the way it came, easily, but in bits, I was quite unsure about it, so all feedback is useful.

John Thanks a lot for those kind words. They help greatly.

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff And I am well appreciative of your remarks. Thanks for them and for stopping by.

Willow Thanks a lot. All remarks are grist to the mill for the future.

Cathy That's really appreciated. Thanks a lot.

LORENZOThank you for that comment. Cheers!

Sheila And my thanks to you and all the best for the future.

Dedene Thanks Dedene. Very helpful.

The Weaver of Grass Thank you for those remarks. The thinking was that our pasts become indistinguishable in the murk of the deep past.

Lady Glamis Thanks very much for the comment and the invite. I shall take you up on that, most definitely.

Madame De Farge Many thanks for those comments. Glad you liked it.

Fantastic Forrest Not sure why a sycamore, could have been any tree. It's probably a combination of the sycamore being a very commone tree round here - they come up like weeds in the garden - and the fact that there was a sycamore just beyond our bottom fence when I was growing up. I was very fond of it. (Plus I wanted three syllables!)

Annie Too kind, too kind - if only that were true! Thanks, though.

Derrick Thanks for the feedback. All very helpful. Easter seems a long time off now!

Helen Well, as my mum would have said, you can come again! Seriously, though: thanks for that.

Lucas I appreciate that remark. It gives me something to think about. Thanks.

Karen Yes, you are absolutely spot on! I am, aren't I? Thanks.

Carl They are very pleasing remarks. Thanks.

Cecile/DreamCreateRepeat And appreciated.

Cloudia And comments deeply appreciated.

Poetic Artist Very good of you to say so. thanks.

Leigh Kind remark, much appreciated.

Barry said...

Your imagery is very strong in this poem. I felt every whisper, groan and bump.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

It's really magnificent and the squeamishness and shivering of faith at the end is supreme.
Has it been published somewhere?

If not it should, I feel, go straight into a good, lush competition.


Ian said...

I like all of that poem very much, especially the opening three lines, which are memorable, but the second verse doesn't quite work for me because 'The darkness shivers like a wet dog' doesn't ring true.

LR Photography said...


Colette McCormick said...

Just thought that I'd pop over and see what you were up to and am I glad that I did. Love the poem.

Steven G said...


I have only come to know you because my lofty superstar Jeanne has pointed me toward your house many times. I catch your comments, pocket them along with those from Maggie, Lily,Rach R, Rach C, Comedy G, Vodka mom, Lindsay, BuffD, Card, DeDe, and so many others.

I peep in the window as you dance your dance. Damn, you can dance quite well, young man!

steven g

Dave King said...

Barry Thank you for stopping by.

Tommaso Many thanks for the kind words. No, it has not been published anywhere else. Mo st competitions exclude work that has been published on the web, I believe. Nevertheless, I will think about it. Thanks again.

Ian I appreciate that observation and will give it due consideration. All such remarks are very helpful, of course. Thanks for your contribution.

Adrian Thanks for that.

Gonna be a writer Welcome and thanks for commenting.

Steven Great comment. Thanks a lot.

Jeanne Estridge said...

You have such a lovely sense for the sounds of words. Do you read Maggie May (Flux Capacitor)? A poet worthy of your interest.

Anonymous said...

Always a good read. A beautiful, thoughtful poem. Your site is a wonderful place to visit and contemplate on life.

Jinksy said...

I did enjoy this 'window on the world'with its beautiful imagery.

Sarah Laurence said...

Nice metaphor! I like how you use it through the poem and how it transforms. Very evocative.

Lyn said...

Catching up too! "Spirit beasts"..
what a phrase! So many wonderful images, always grateful for talent!!

Mark Kerstetter said...

Dave, if I don't get to one of your posts right away it's like coming late to a party. I think the first four lines, along with the last four lines are very beautiful. But I have to agree with Ian about the "darkness shivers" stanza. If you were describing a dog in the darkness it would be wonderful, but for me, comparing all of the night sky to a dog works against the expansiveness ("our spirit beasts") of the rest of your poem.

Rosaria Williams said...

Even just one stanza is enough to keep us thinking. Strong imagery.

Dave King said...

Jeanne Te name rings a bell, but, no, I haven't followed her. I shall certainly look her up. Thanks for the link.

Watercolorist Thank you very much for such encouraging remarks.

Jinksy Thanks a lot. Very kind of you.

Sarah Helpful comments. Very grateful

Lyn And for your kind remarks. Thanks.

Mark Many thanks for that. I do take the point you are making. Shall have to go off and have a think about it. All such comments are vastly helpful and I am grateful for them.

lakeviewer Very many thanks.

A Cuban In London said...

Never mind you being behind with the old visiting here and there. When the reason for your absence is wonders like this, we forgive you, dave. In fact, sin more often, mate ;-).

Greetings from London.

Dave King said...

A Cuban in LondonThat is a very gracious comment. I thank you for it.

Kat Mortensen said...

The image of the constellations being shaken from the wet dog is genius! So vivid for me.

There is much to be appreciated in this poem.


Lucy said...

Everybody's said it all, but it is a wonder. We've all been somewhere like this I suppose, not many of us can do something like this with it...

San said...

"...the ghosts/have taken a more solid state..." That in itself is an apt commentary on this poem.