About the Dead Woman Who Listens


About the Dead Woman Who Listens

The woman, dead, listens,
hears the sounds of falling
snow on marble or is it
alabaster? She cannot
recall the stone she chose,
cold, pure, unforgiving to
assaults of elements, to
words accusatory or de-
riding. Impervious is she
to all of these as she lies
wondering why they bother
to pretend to care. She thinks
it true, has heard that it
was fact, that once she settles in
this state of inconvenient
silence she might return a
time or two, conclude unfinished
business in a random dream.

More About the Dead Woman Who Listens

The dead woman listens to
the sounds of sighing wind,
stirs within her tomb (or
soul?) aware of changing forces
without knowing sources of
relentless stirrings, questions
left unanswered in the wandering
of her lifetime’s progress through
uncertainty. She washes in the
river she once knew, loosens the
detritus of the wasted years and
wonders if the others understand
futility. Her journey takes her
onward to another lifetime.
Left behind—the useless
messages. New regrets and fears
will challenge her return.

This poem is written after the style of Marvin Bell, creator of Dead Man poetry. I’m submitting it for dVerse Open Link Night. Over at the pub, we’re in the midst of a joyous celebration of our first year anniversary as a poetic community. If you are not familiar with dVerse Poetry, please stop by, sample, enjoy. Add a poem of your own! Thanks Brian and Claudia for bringing this group of talented poets together, and thanks for allowing me be be a part of the staff.

Here’s some info on the poetic form:

From Marvin Bell:

The Dead Man poem is a form I created a few years ago and then couldn’t shake. Dead man poems come out of an old Zen admonition that says, “Live as if you were already dead.” But you needn’t feel remorse. The dead man is alive and dead at the same time. He lives it up, he has opinions, he makes bad jokes, he has sex. Is he me? No, but he knows a lot about me. Dead Man poems come in two parts. Each line of poetry in a dead man poem is a compete sentence, long or short.

The form is comprised of two sections. One is titled “The Dead Man and …” and the second “More About the Dead Man and … .” All lines are written as sentence lines and enjambment matters quite a bit. The first two lines generally turn back on each other. The two versions seem to discover or expose different things about the Dead Man, one more internal in nature, the other external.

Photo: Google Images, cachescrazy.com

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26 thoughts on “About the Dead Woman Who Listens

  1. Anders says:

    I agree; to be dead must be awful. (。◕‿◕。)

    ▲ A ▲

    Like

  2. Bodhirose says:

    I’m fascinated with this “dead man” poetry…so intriguing and you did an incredible job…I was totally enthralled! I must give it a try…

    Like

  3. Mary says:

    You mastered this poem, Victoria!! What wonderful writing to share for the first anniversary of dVerse!

    Like

  4. Like a story of an after life, re-cycling the maybe’s and loose threads into some tapestry for a new wall or carpet or maybe even a living room! Love the words:
    “… unfinished
    business in a random dream…”

    Like

  5. yoga-adan says:

    interesting form, think i liked the first better, but maybe because of more imagery, maybe cause i felt the second was less optimistic

    esp liked, in the first,

    “She cannot
    recall the stone she chose”

    and

    “once she settles in
    this state of inconvenient
    silence she might return a
    time or two, conclude unfinished
    business in a random dream.”

    while in the second esp liked,

    “She washes in the
    river she once knew, loosens the
    detritus of the wasted years”

    all in all, yes, interesting piece, thanks victoria 😉

    Like

  6. markwindham says:

    wonderful Victoria, really enjoyed this.

    Like

  7. Love your use of this form, Victoria. Engaging piece of writing.

    Pamela

    Like

  8. tigerbrite says:

    Intriguing form Victoria. Very deep. The sounds of the sighing wind seems to store her memories of the futility of wasted years…..

    Like

  9. Louise says:

    Wow…intriguing & mysterious…I think it’s a form I could love…I really enjoyed reading your poem! 🙂

    Like

  10. beckykilsby says:

    Yes, the run-on really does a powerful job in truning back..almost a spiral. Love that reflexive quality and both of these work admirably. Really enjoyed meeting these two.. 🙂

    Like

  11. Ravenblack says:

    Very intriguing poem and form. 🙂 It puzzles me as I read it, I do wonder how much she is aware and affected, though being dead she is as is stated, impervious — what sort of awareness this is. Really interesting.

    Like

  12. Irene says:

    Futility is a powerful feeling..and I so love how you’ve used the form, sweet Victoria.

    Like

  13. Claudia says:

    very intriguing write and title as well..my fav part cause i can feel so much depth here is.. She washes in the
    river she once knew, loosens the
    detritus of the wasted years and
    wonders if the others understand
    futility…. and victoria…thanks for all you do in the pub – it’s a joy and honor having you on board

    Like

  14. ManicDdaily says:

    So interesting to think of dead person listening through the stone. You certainly take us to the mind set/ set mind. k.

    Like

  15. Susan says:

    Thank you for explaining the form. Already intrigued, I went back to read it as if hte woman was alive. What an amazing difference! Suddenly, she s taking some “me time” in a hectic life, and more profoundly in the second part:
    ‘aware of changing forces
    without knowing sources of
    relentless stirrings, questions
    left unanswered in the wandering
    of her lifetime’s progress through
    uncertainty. She washes in the
    river she once knew . . . ”
    And she returns! Right where she left! But she has shaken loose from the trivial . . . .
    Amazing. I love this! I will try it. Mine will be about imagining my own rebirth. Gosh.

    Like

  16. An intriguing form that you deliver so well. I was hooked from the title! Thank you for your part in the wonderful community that is dVerse, you’ve taught me a lot over the last year.

    Like

  17. dragonkatet says:

    This was a really interesting type of poem. Thank you for introducing me to it and thanks for sharing yours, which I had to read a couple of times and still don’t think I’ve discovered everything about it that I like! 🙂

    Like

  18. Laurie Kolp says:

    I love Dead Man Poetry and you have captured the essence of why I like it so much. I’ve never written one… I find it intimidating

    Like

  19. Mama Zen says:

    Marvelous writing!

    Like

  20. Extrememly well done, Victoria. Thought provoking and conscious. Thanks for the introduction to the concept of Dead Man poems.

    Like

  21. wolfsrosebud says:

    wonderful weave of story and poem

    Like

  22. brian miller says:

    i really love the awareness in this victoria….esp that second one…feeling the womb….the wind within…it is enchanting…and i love she leaves behind the unneeded as well and goes on to another life…some wisdom in that….

    Like

  23. ayala says:

    I love this, Victoria. I love the dead woman listening…living on.

    Like

  24. Becky says:

    Wonderful poem Victoria.
    I was completely caught up in the rhythm of this… a wonderful story that kept pulling me along.

    Like

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