Friday, January 7, 2011

Master of the Dead

Master of the Dead

Watchful, watched
Powerful stillness
First cheerless light
Frozen time.

A push at my back
Whispers in branches
Brittle laughter
The Master of the Dead has arrived.

Scraping naked branches
Scratching music signals
The dead begin rise
The mirthless dance begins.

A tuneless waltz
The master lifts
Lifeless forms into
whirling, curling columns.

The dancers rush, and spin
climb high, thrown down
Discarded at
Their master’s whim

The master gone
The dancers forgotten
Left to continue
Their slow, silent decay.

Ken Goree

The idea for this poem came to me this fall, in probably mid-November. I was out for a morning walk on the Burke-Gilman trail. A little grey light had seeped into the day, but everything was utterly still; no sound of birds, no other walker, joggers or even bicyclist were about. Then a gust of wind pushed me from behind, the leafless tree branches started scraping together, complaining, as they too were assaulted.

Leaves from all around the trail were driven forward, twisted together in a swirling column that looked that it might solidify into something alive. Alive and unpleasant. The pillar of leaves swayed hypnotically like a cobra.

It didn't last long. The wind grew tired of the game and dropped the leaves back to the ground, like a child would discard a soggy paper airplane.

The momentary burst of wind did not return during my walk. The silence returned, but without the feeling of malicious intent that preceded the marionette dance of the dead that I had witnessed.


  1. Such great sensory imagery - especially reading it with the soundtrack of the wind this morning, gave me chills. Though inquiring minds want to know if/when you ever sleep??