A ‘Listening-Thinking’ Poem

A ‘Listening-Thinking’ Poem

A ‘Listening-Thinking’ Poem

A ‘Listening-Thinking' Poem

Here’s a new poem I wrote:

The house is silent.
It’s early.
I hear myself breathe.
The house is silent.
But something shifts.
A slight creak.
More silence.
Then another.
I remember yesterday.
We found two or three large spiders.
Someone explained
that September is the spider season.
How do they know? I wondered.
Do they talk about it?
‘Here we go, September, again. In we go.’
Perhaps that shifting noise
is the spiders, I thought.
They’re moving the furniture.
‘Never did like that chair being so close to the window,
Dave, let’s move it into the alcove.’
The house is silent.
It’s early.
Something shifts.

This is what I could call a ‘listening-thinking poem’. The first part is about what I can hear (or not hear). The second part is about what I ‘wonder’.

You could try this. Find something that you can hear (or not hear). Describe it. Describe what you think it might be. Or what might be there. If there’s a creature or a person, you can pretend to go into what they might be thinking or saying. And then you can come back at the end to what you can hear (or not hear). This business of opening and closing a poem or story with the same thing is called ‘framing’.

One thing that ‘framing’ does is let you think that whatever you’re talking about carries on while your mind has strayed off down the ‘wondering’ route. It gives the impression of being ‘continuous’ without saying so. A lot of poetry tries to ‘show’ without ‘telling’ why. It’s a ‘poetic technique’.




  1. Guneet Aga 1 year ago

    Dear Michael,
    You are a master of the English Language and it is your ability to reach adults and children alike which I am an ardent fan of. Your listening-thinking poem is absolutely charming, most beautiful. I can ‘feel’ as I read. I just finished listening to your podcast Word of Mouth titled’ A Murmuration of Starlings’ and loved the bit where you say you know a thing or two about bears (sleuth of bears being discussed!). That is one of the best poems I love singing/performing with the children (I am a supply teacher and NEVER miss a chance to get singing-We’re going on a Bear Hunt) whenever I get the opportunity-else I ‘make’ one! You are blessed to have such an intimate relationship with words, with the English language and its history. Thank you for being there and contributing your precious gems of wisdom to humankind. I am your ardent fan, Guneet

  2. TAPAS MAJUMDAR 3 weeks ago

    Dear Michal
    Your poem ‘The house is silent ….something
    shifts.” is excellent.My question is whether is there any extension of the poem or not ?
    I will be obliged if you please reply.
    With regards
    Tapas Majumdar

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