Silence Poems: 318 / 500

0331 How To Wait Doggedly

Rating: 2.8

I’ve never seen him just like this before.

Crouched at the entrance to the largest run,
the burrowed-out soil in front of it
ground to dust by many eager legs
hopping, skipping out of the dark warren -
he’s totally silent, totally still. It's awesome.
This isn’t the puppy who goes wild at rabbits
in a frenzy of excitement, wet nose intoxicated by
a thousand trails of scent, scattering
white tails into burrows, barking wildly
(are they friends or enemies, in this joy?)
at the sheer excitement of the chase,
puppy paradise; but now..
this is serious stuff.

at first sight, you could think he’s resting, he’s so still;
his back legs haunched down under him, looking
like the sphinx itself, immobile, waiting for the question
it’s waited for through thousands of wise years;
may only answer in this sacred silence;
his nose and head and throat almost flat upon the ground
(this is no time for his 'Tailwaggers' League' identity disc to rattle)
as if at the epicentre of
some invisible geometry of scent and earth-echoed sound,
his ears poised, half-lifted on instant muscles;

he’s the image of relaxation, at first sight:
but a stillness packed with potential energy
wound as ready on electric nerves as in a spring;
a silence so intense it’s thrilling,
full of alertness; a silence right inside his head
that teaches silence, stillness: he’s carrying
no sense of future: he’s living a continuous present,
waiting for the senses to tell him something.
There’s nothing else in the world to do, right now.

A fox terrier flat on the ground at the entrance
to a mere rabbit-hole; we’ve never found a foxhole,
we two; should I apologise to him? If we had,
he’d be in there like a flash; sheer life-or-death ferocity;
but here, nevertheless, it’s serious stuff;
this is what thousands of years of dog
have made him for; that, and what he and man
have learned together from each other; bred in him;
while this present man gazes awestruck at the species
in its perfection of action, action contained in stillness,
stillness and silence containing all the senses,
all contained in knowledge, awaiting, perfect, pure,
what the cosmos will reveal in its good time.

Has my dog just shown me, taught me,
how a poet should await a poem?

Hugh Cobb 13 March 2006

Lovely poem, Michael. The vivid and detailed descriptions render your moral well. Yes, we need patience as poets. The lesson is not to rush, but to wait for when the poem is there in potentia, poised and coiled on the brink of expression and only then to take one more breath and put pen to paper. Warm regards, Hugh

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kskdnj sajn 13 March 2006

keen observations, and excellent description of instinctive behavior, both in man and animal. I enjoyed the description of behavior shaped over the years of both man and dog through relationship, Great fine details, and portrait of the man's psychological and emotional understanding of his friend. Enjoyed the ending, where the author speaks about waiting for these natural occurances to occur before writing. (I think) :) Well done!

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Mary Nagy 13 March 2006

And what a great response this is Michael! Having a dog too, (bassett hound) it really can be hypnotizing watching them in their most natural state, just doing what they do. I loved this......I almost feel like I know your dog now! :) Sincerely, Mary

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Michael Shepherd 13 March 2006

(A response to a challenge to write poems about stillness and silence)

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Gina Onyemaechi 13 March 2006

So beautifully brought out! I'll never look at a resting dog in the same way again! Above all, section 3 has stuck on me. Probing (I fancy ironic as well) finish too. Fantastic writing, Michael. Warm regards, Gina.

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