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Saturday 31 March 2012

the falling man

From a  young age
I had a private myth:
a falling man
dropping from the sky.

I didn't know
that as he
existed anywhere
except inside my head

and so he'd pop
up when he liked
in poems, dreams
and games.

And then one day
I heard the tale
of Icarus.
So was my dream

a plagiarism?
A not-for-real -
not in the way that
all dreams are for real?

And then I saw
for real
the falling man
of 9/11.

Not just the world
but the whole realm
of myth for me
was changed that day.

A behemoth
was loose upon the world:
bottom feeding
consuming lesser myths,

leaving bloodless corpses
in its wake
or making them
its own.

Its shape
and size blacked out the sun.
Darkness like a carpet
rolled across the Earth.

And when they rolled
it up again
those myths that had survived
were motifs in its weave.

My falling man
was there,
now doomed to fall
for ever -



The image is from the Wikipedia site. It gives the misleading impression that the man is falling in a controlled, head-first manner. In fact, other images confirm that he was tumbling.


Elisabeth said...

Fear of falling is a primitive fear we all endure from infancy as I understand, dave. Your poem brings that fear to life, along with other real life events.

rch said...

Hi Dave I admit I was surprised when the 9/11 reference came up though strangely that's the first thought I had when I saw the poem. So much changed that day and you really make the reader think.

Laurie Kolp said...

It was so sad to see those people jumping out of the towers on 9/11. I almost felt like I was falling as I read your poem.

Mary said...

The falling people of 9/11 are forever emblazoned on my memories. I like the way you worked so many details into this poem!

Brian Miller said...

very interesting dave...as you will see, i have the fear but not for myself...but watching others slip and fall...the ones on 9/11 def are a harrowing memory...

Jim Murdoch said...

I like the idea you end this poem with, a falling man who falls forever. With me is was the image of a drowning man who never actually drowned; it served as a metaphor for someone ‘drowning’ in emotions but who never got to the end of drowning. It’s the first time I’ve seen that picture. I’d heard, of course, that some people chose that way to go out and I think I saw a short video which—thankfully—was grainy not that this photo is a lot better. Context is everything and it dawned on me a few days ago that that is what truth is, facts in context. The fact is this man is falling down the side of a skyscraper but the truth is so much more. I like the image of a behemoth “consuming lesser myths” and I might have thought about talking about the myths falling into its mouth. And then we see the behemoth blotting out the sun so high in the sky? So where is it exactly? The idea is good but you might want to have a wee think how it might be misinterpreted. I also like that you chose a long, thin column; very appropriate. Not sure if that last line is needed. I’ve read it over several times and can’t find a way to read it where it sits comfortably. But that’s me.

I should apologise for the paucity of comments from me of late. I’m still reading but I’ve been commenting less across the board. And I’m finding poetry especially hard to get my head round at the moment. I have three poetry books just now that I had plans for and I struggle to even pick them up. I read a few lines and I lose interest. I’m also behind on my prose reading, not completely out of book reviews but getting there.

jabblog said...

The falling man has achieved a dreadful kind of immortality.

vivinfrance said...

Pointlessly sums it up completely. Please God this nightmare will never recur.

vivinfrance said...

Pointlessly sums it up completely. Please God this nightmare will never recur.

Kass said...

Powerful image and poem.

Scarlet said...

I fear heights and falling...and those images of 9.11 will haunt me for a long time.

Enjoyed your share ~

Carl said...

I was changed forever by the events of that day. After the months of numbness from the news coverage and the glimpses into the best and worst of my country.. It crystalized for me what was important. The golden rule should ever be the way we treat one another as individuals and as peoples. It is something I strive for, but being human and am ever short of the mark.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Haunting poem. And I I remember the falling man on 9/11 you are talking about, the terrible feeling I had watching that dot falling along the beehive of windows...

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Oh, I had not thought about those who fell or jumped from the towers in quite some time. How terrorized and desperate they must have felt. A very powerful poem.

Windsmoke. said...

The people falling or jumping out of the Twin Towers on 9/11 is imprinted on my brain :-).

Maude Lynn said...

This is an incredibly powerful write.

Dave King said...


Hi and thank you for your visits and your remarks. I have decided on a joint reply, in part because I am again on a very tight schedule, and in part because there would be a lot of repetition in the individual replies.

I think Elizabeth was on the right lines in associating the myth with the fear of falling, though it is only very recently that I began to do the same thing.

The common thread in the majority of your responses was, naturally enough, the mention of 9/11. That undoubtedly still haunts us all. It has become a cliche to say that everything changed that day, but it is nothing but the truth. It was sad and tragic, and way beyond either of those. I can, I think, still recall each moment of watching those events unfold. The shock of the first strike and then incomprehension realising there were others to follow!

Carl, too, has hold of an important truth when he speaks of the importance of the way in which we treat one another as individuals.

My poem was not intended to delve into these events when I began to write, and i have not done so before, but at the last it seemed unavoidable.

Thanks again to you all. Your comments are always greatly valued. This time round particularly so.

A Cuban In London said...

I agree with Elizabeth. Fear of falling is one of my earliest memories. It's a tough topic to approach and I think you pulled it off magnificently. I like the "loop" effect of the last stanza: the man falling down forever.

Greetings from London.

Ygraine said...

It seems you had a premonition of that tragic day many years before it actually happened.
Tragedies appear to have this ability to reach out to us independently of time, hence the impression of the man falling down forever.
Your perception is truly amazing!

ds said...

I thought that was what the photo was about...a harrowing image of a nightmare day. Your poem brings that back in all of its terror, but also points to personal terrors: fear of falling, of failing, of anything that might send us down down into the abyss.

Dulcina said...

Falling for rising.
Dying for living.
Giving for receiving.

Very good poem, Dave.

That man fell on all of us that day.

As for your private myth, all through my life I have been afraid of an airplane falling/crashing on a crowded city.

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

Very intense. Well done!

Anonymous said...

Fear of falling is a very common ingredient in nightmares. To have your greatest fear played out before your eyes in front of the world, as yours was on 9/11, must be awful. And the constant reminders ... Yuck. As for the 9/11 victims - fall, burn or be crushed. Not much of a choice really.

Really powerful writing.

Kat Mortensen said...


Baino said...

Welcome to 10thDoM David, remember this is a slightly more challenging site for burgeoning writers, read and vote when the time comes. Poignant read.