The Earthen Man

This was an attempt at a spoken word poem whose genesis was at school where a group of Year 10 students were being introduced to slam poetry.

I took one of the prompts and explored the origins of my name. It is rough but a fun activity to explore. Hope you enjoy it.

The Earthen Man
When I heard the minister pronounce the benediction

At my grandfather’s funeral
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”
the recitation of symbolic circulation
I hear echoes of my name


accent the first letter with exhalation of breath, “Ah”


a whisper of life escaping.
Count those breaths, man of earth, keep a record, keep a tally.
Know its origins lie in ancient roots and ancient lands
your genesis is found in holy writ
the clay, the breath, the man created
the Play-Dough of God’s creative work


a synonym of man and earth
a story deposited and poured from one jar of clay to the next
through eternity’s hourglass until the dust and ashes settle
inverted and another life begins


this life begins as the conjugation of my father’s seed, my mother’s soil
the banker and the occupational therapist
the handy man and the artist
and I look at the dirt beneath my fingernails
see it is more my father than me
but I have mown my fair share of lawns, dug holes and shifted topsoil
I am more likely to find ink beneath my nails
from pens where words seep out like
the sap from a tree I never planted but I am learning to climb
now I garden with words
planting syllable seedlings in the the dust accumulating on the windowsill
in notebooks and diaries and journals
whose pages I imagine falling out like the petals of the cherry blossom
in my parents’ backyard, a delicate cascade of vowels and consonants


in retrospect, memory is an archaeological examination of a past
digging through layers of soil
stratified artefacts poured through a sieve of inconsistency


while the root system seeks out good soil
the surface is choked by weeds and caged by thorns
the fruits of labour harvested
a meagre handful, barely a morsel
a portion for one
let alone enough to feed a family
or the overflow to lay out a feast for friends
and strangers
I would be wise to reap the harvest
plant new seed at season’s turn


the late starter to a race
trying to peg his pace with the front runners
rather than running his own marathon
the rhythm of a heartbeat
I have not kept time with
a pulse I lag behind most often
while trying to rush ahead


Feet of clay baked over many summers
Running barefoot through the streets
Dodging bindies, stones and once, a rusty nail
Embedded into the sole of my foot
A fissure that now lets the water in
disintegrating in the tides
of people


are we more than bags and bags of soil or fertiliser
stacked on shelves in mausoleums of DIY self-aggrandisement?
let me remove the speck of dirt from my eye
form the rain around this granule of dirt
and I will water the ground
from which I came

One response to “The Earthen Man

  1. I love your imagery of gardening with words and pages like petals

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