Listen

We know that silence is for the soul,
replenishing what’s extracted
in the grind of daily living

that meditation calms the body
as well as the mind

but

do we realize silence
is a form of listening

a sacred gift, an offering
of ourselves to others, yes,
and also to ourselves

For I find myself

slipping into hidden cracks
of my existence
over and over

just to listen

Rooster crowing while it is yet dark
and all the day long
tinged with urgent longing
not altogether of this earth

Wind in the chimes, unseen fingers at play,
the invisible howling creature under the eaves
out of pain now, and at rest

Listen

birds

Children reading, hesitant, halting
a pump handle scraping until
—there now, there now, there’s the flow

The muted beat of drums, upstairs
my boy recording a song
both melody and harmony,
the rhythms of his heart
translated to keys and strings

same as I translate rhythms
of words to page

Listen

The timbre of voices long-loved
each like a blanket
for wrapping around
and resting within

Listen

Deep in angry torrents
born from undercurrents
surging over
razor-edged
ice-hot stones
of fear and pain
—there, the slashed heart cries
unassuaged
unabated

just love me

while in the sky

geese

House popping and cracking
yawning, stretching
settling back to sap-drenched dreams
of branches and green

much like me, holding a shell to my ear,
seeking the ocean
not necessarily one of this earth
but the sea-response
of my own brain,
echoing

resounding

reverberating

against my soul

Listen

may well be
the holiest of words.

*******

Photo: Listen. Rick and Brenda Beerhorst. CC BY

I enjoy that “Blessed are those who actually listen” photo. I also used it last November to accompany a pantoum poem: The sound of gratitude.

The annual Slice of Life Story Challenge with Two Writing Teachers is underway, meaning that I am posting every day in the month of March. This marks my fifth consecutive year and I’m experimenting with an abecedarian approachOn Day 12, I am writing around a word beginning with letter l.

Also shared with the Poetry Friday gathering – many thanks to Heidi for hosting the Roundup.

42 thoughts on “Listen

  1. Fran, I’m feeling your heart and soul! This part resonates deeply:
    For I find myself
    slipping into hidden cracks
    of my existence
    over and over

    I am hosting a day of writing in a similar writing community (for verse) in April and would love to use your poem as a mentor text and feature you as a poet if you are interested. An inspired poem on listening is perfect in these days. The repeating of listen….listen….is so compelling.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for these words, Kim! I am delighted to know the poem and those lines in particular resonate with you, and that you would like to share it with the poetry-writing community. That would be an absolute joy to me – yes!

      Like

  2. I needed some inspiration for my morning poem and here you are, with such beautiful lines. I hope you don’t mind:

    ”.. as I translate rhythms
    of words to page ..”

    — inspired by “Listen” by Fran Haley

    Toes tapping to beat
    of every syllable,
    every street

    corner where they serenade us,
    passers-bye, walking by,
    by porch

    light, the torch light
    of words shimmering
    into music light, a hymn

    into this unknown night

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I loved meandering through this poem…this line, “silence
    is a form of listening” wow. Very thoughtful, very spiritual in the tenderness expressed for listening and the sounds listened to.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It may be this exhausted brain, but halfway through reading your poem I pictured it lying on its side, looking like sound waves moving across a display–my eyes were listening. Is it a nudge of the Universe that I was reading Glennon Melton’s “Untamed” last night, her chapter on “selah” in particular, that Hebrew directive to pause, listen, let Scripture sink in, much like the full spaces in your poem? To feel fully in the spaces, listening. That’s what you made me do this morning, a meditative respite before my busy day. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am fascinated by your eyes suddenly seeing sound waves – I wouldn’t have thought of this and I love it. I also love the connection to “selah”/”meditate on this” and “to feel fully in the spaces” – for that’s what I was doing, absorbing all those sounds, their meanings, their essences, their interconnectedness. Such a profound response, Chris – thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, listening, you have captured the essence and the power of listening and what a precious part of our daily lives it should be. Loved the lyrical descriptiveness of the lines of your poem, especially ‘echoing, resounding, reverberating against my soul…’

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, yes. Listen is the holiest of words! Love so many images in this poem. This one has my heart: “Wind in the chimes, unseen fingers at play,” We have a wind chime out on the back deck and the sound is magical. This month with all the wind, it lulls me to sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds surround us but we don’t listen. You listened so that we could all hear too. Another magical weaving of words.
    Here’s a funny story with the word listen. An incredible first grade teacher taught her students to respond to a call back. She would say L-I-S, students said T-E-N. They were then supposed to stop and listen. One day I asked a student if they knew what they were spelling. The student shrugged and had no clue that the word was listen. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Listening is a life theme of mine. I really enjoyed the expansiveness of your poem that took us to so many corners of your life to listen closely. These lines:
    “House popping and cracking
    yawning, stretching
    settling back to sap-drenched dreams
    of branches and green”
    are wonderfully lyrical and rich with description. Thank you for taking us on a listening tour!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Fran! Thanks for sharing this “call-to-listen” with us. Your poem, especially the ending, reminded me of “The Word That Is a Prayer” by Ellery Akers (only in his poem, the sacred word is “please” instead of “listen”).
    “Please: a word so short
    it could get lost in the air
    as it floats up to God like the feather it is, “

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I believe that to “listen” is the best thing I did as a teacher, Fran. This is so poignant, so important for people to read, to “hear”! I love it all, but especially “the rhythms of his heart
    translated to keys and strings” – that touching part about your son. Have a lovely weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So many lovely translations of sound into words, but this was my favorite, I think:
    House popping and cracking
    yawning, stretching
    settling back to sap-drenched dreams
    of branches and green.
    Thanks for sharing your SOL with PF today!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The LAYERS here. This poem asks to be read. And reread. And then read aloud. And then silently. There are so many images that you bring, like the wood of the house dreaming of its former self, sap-drenched and green. But what I’m going to really carry forward is the new idea you’ve planted for me. YES, listening is a gift. Yes, silence is a form of listening and observing – OTHERS. I had never stopped to think that we could create silence, and listen in to OURSELVES. We can slip into the different thoughts and memories we have. We can watch, and we can observe, and we can listen. What a gift that truly would be to ourselves. Fran, this is a LOT to think about here. I’m going to have to tend this seed for a little while – it seems like a big and meaningful one. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Layers… listening is like that. I don’t always do it well. Tiredness and too many thoughts interfere. But I’ve come to think that, in the end, those moments that I sit and truly listen are a gift, a celebration of being alive. Even in the blessed silence. Deepest thanks for your words, Lainie.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh my, Fran, this is beautiful and heartfelt. I resonate with so many of your words. I agree “blessed are those who actually listen.” I love how you began with the photo and quotation and how your circled back to it. The photo reminded me of all the shells I’ve listened to and how I taught my daughters to listen to shells.

    I have always thought how much better our world would be if more people truly listened. Right now as I write I am listening to my cat purring sitting near my monitor and the wind whooshing and wailing outside. Both sounds calm and make me happy. I also appreciate the comfort of sounds and silence; I seek sounds. I miss the sound of “children reading” and the sounds of my daughters’ “timbre of voices long-loved/each like a blanket/for wrapping around/and resting within.” These lines “both melody and harmony, the rhythms of his heart/translated to keys and strings” remind me of the eleven years I’ve spent listening to my youngest daughter play her viola and how much I’ve missed hearing her and her college orchestra perform during the last year because of the pandemic.

    Thank you for sharing this gift. Your poem has made me pause and think how important listening to sounds and how important silence is to me. Tomorrow when I hear birds singing I will think of you. Mr. Cardinal has been singing loudly.

    Like

  14. Fran, this poem is so beautiful, a reminder that listen may be “the holiest of words.” It made me think about my family and place where I grew up, returning in the quiet and listening to the past to see what I can discover. There is so much to listen to, isn’t there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I so appreciate your words, Janice. This idea of returning in the quiet places to listen to the past – I love that, for there’s spirit in place. Even when I am returning there only in my mind. Yes, so much to listen to.

      Like

  15. Thank you so much for sharing this with me! It is beautiful. There are so many lines I love. One section that stood out to me was where you describe your son playing music, and the connection you share with him: “the rhythms of his heart/translated to keys and strings/same as I translate rhythms/of words to page” The repetition of “listen”, the images, the pacing of the poem, all give me the feeling of slowing down and setting into silence as I read. By the time I reach the end of the poem, I’m in the right place to listen. What a gift!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are most gracious, both in the invitation to share links to favorite posts (I have never even thought of this) and in your reading and feedback. Many thanks for this gift, the sharing of your words and heart!

      Like

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