Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Poetry Thursday - The Body Remembers

Body memory is something I believe we all experience, and sometimes suffer. We store both good and bad information. I can play the guitar with my eyes closed because my fingers remember where to go. Bad body memory takes us places we’d rather not go. The worst part is that when such memories are triggered, we have no choice because the trigger bypasses rational thinking and elicits a pre-programmed response. We just suddenly find ourselves where we don’t want to be. There’s actually a phenomenal psychotherapy treatment that can reprogram negative body memories so that the individual no longer suffers the effects. It’s called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprogramming). It works. Take my word for it. Actually, it’s changed my life in almost every way I can think of. Before EMDR, I suffered terribly from post-traumatic stress disorder. My entire life was focused on avoiding situations that would trigger unwanted body memories and reactions. This poem is about life before EMDR.

The Body Remembers

My body remembers what I’ve forgotten
and pushed beyond the border of mind
Drained of meaning, colorless
and there, at the very start of me

In my cellar, a child’s stories huddle boxed
in neat rows on shelves labeled “Denial”
They hold their breath as Truth paces the darkness
vigilant, flashlight in hand, searching

Keeper of secrets you betray me
for you know what lies buried
where bones grind and chalk
and always where to dig

And so it comes to this
A door slams violently shut
Glass shatters the night
And screams bore into me
through secret openings

My past revealed
Oversized shoes – clown-like
Sleeves dangling far past fingertips
A briefcase too heavy lies askew
Peering over a buttoned shirt collar
I glimpse my body - diminished
And I’m eight years old again

by dennis tkon copyright 2007


Brian said...

Dennis, a poem that resonates with me. I understand each and every line. We understand each line. Thanks.

Dennis said...

I think everyone has shelf full of memories somewhere just like in this poem. It's a theme that resonates for most people I've talked to about this. You're in great company!

Poet with a Day Job said...


This is a wonderful poem. I love the explanation that precedes it, too, about EMDR. What scares me most about body memories is, they have even been known to reproduce physical manifstations of the traumas, like bruises. So odd. I think of phantom limbs. I am inspired to write now...thank you.

Your piece is so compelling because it meanders as quietly and as focused as Truth seeks Denial (the description of which I love, boxed up and huddle like archives, waiting to be opened and learned). I read through it and feel sad, then a little happy at the end as memories are - happy to have come out, been exorcised, but sad it has to be through in order to get out - sort of like Dante's Inferno. The only out is through.

Then, I want to reread, because I feel like there's a crapload more I missed! Great one.

Dennis said...

M!! You’re always so kind and generous with your comments and you really seem to get me and what I’m trying to convey. I value that tremendously! I’m glad you liked this. Every now and then I write something that I like. This just might be one of those. Thanks again and I can’t wait to read what comes out of your inspiration this week!


DewyKnickers said...

Hi Dennis,

This is a poem that I shy away from. I don't want to go into those rooms. Those memories, they can stay locked away. The body, now that is something I am still working on.



L. Monique said...

The memory is an amazing thing. Its always been fascinating to me.

A previewer of my poem told me last night, "Its hard to say I love it, because how do you love such things, but I'll say I appreciate it." And those are my sentiments for you. I appreciate your imagery and honesty, it made a wonderful poem. And the picture was a perfect addition. Sometimes the little things are the only things remembered, right?

Crafty Green Poet said...

All those memories pushed away, but hten you find you can't do that with them....

gautami tripathy said...

It reminded me of Brian.

"In my cellar, a child’s stories huddle boxed
in neat rows on shelves labeled “Denial” "

I could just picture those boxes.

I do not hve words to describe howI felt reading this.

In-between state of consciousness

Norma said...

I really like the big, oversized shoes imagery with the little arms in the sleeves.

Thanks for stopping by my PT.

Paul said...


I wonder if there's such thing as a human without boxes in the cellar of one kind or another? Anyone I've ever known well turned out to have some.

Regina Clare Jane said...

It's a global phenomenon, isn't it?
I am so glad that you were helped with this therapy, Dennis.

la vie en rose said...

very powerful dennis. the immagery you use is fabulous.

Colorful Prose said...

I loved the second stanza!

twilightspider said...

Strong, strong work Dennis. That middle, transitional stanza is so good - it allows for the shift from hiding to being revealed and it's such a chilling little bit. That line "and always where to dig" - yikes. And by yikes I mean wow.

G said...

I love your last stanza, Dennis. Terrific images.

Remiman said...

i enjoyed how you played out your feelings here.

I've used neurolinguistic programing to help some folks deal with childhood fears that were hindering full appreciation of the present. It usually helps to bring these event to the exposre of daylight. the secret is to bring it forward without the fear.
Well crated poem.

Jessica said...

This an emotionally hard poem to read, but rewarding because it is so authentic and uses such surprising imagery towards the end. When I read your intro about the body memory and the poem, I realized how much I chickened out in my own poem. Thanks for sharing this!

Emily said...

Wow! Great poem. I especially liked "where bones grind and chalk" and your last line, "I'm eight years old again."

wendy said...

They hold their breath as Truth paces the darkness
vigilant, flashlight in hand, searching

these are some of my favorite lines.

madd said...

Dennis you always move me, as you always write your words my friend..madd

Alex aka Gypsy Girl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex aka Gypsy Girl said...

Dennis, Your poems are so rich that I always feel like I want to read them over and over to catch just one more thing... Your poems always take me on an intense ride and then, suddenly, overwhelm me with softeness. This one was no different, I'm glad you got those memories out of your body! Feels like there is plenty of space now to store more... new good ones!:)

...deb said...


I do so love your writing. So much here to repond to; others have captured my own thoughts quite well.

"And so it comes to this" is what caught at me most...even with the other powerful images that resonate and fill the senses.

Personally, I like that you evoke some audible memories because they are particularly powerful and sensitive, at least to me.

Thanks for putting yourself out here.

Poet with a Day Job said...

Okay, I keep obsessively looking for another entry, and every time I see the title of this old one "the body remembers" still here, I can't help but think of that old pepperidge farm commercial that says "pep-ridge fahhhm, remembahs!" in the old lady Bostonian accent. Cracks me up!

Dennis said...

M - Ok - I know what you're looking for - I'll post it up in deference to your OCD!!!

Clockworkchris said...

I did read and enjoy the poem-but moreso the writing above it. My work deals a lot with triggers and how to overcome them with my mentally ill clients, and in that I learn more about myself. I would love some more info on this therapy-as always, its been real.

Dana said...

Yes, I know this one. Maybe not in a PTSD way, but in other ways. I think we can all relate to this. I love your imagery, especially the line, "They hold their breath as Truth paces the darkness."

Sam of the ten thousand things said...

This is a good piece Dennis. I enjoyed the read - both poem and comments.

Anonymous said...

I could feel the trepidation moving past the boxes in the cellar, the fear of the betrayal of our defenses as we glimpse the light moving closer. Such a frightening thing to face our past trauma, but freedom does shine through the open door, doesn't it! Great post!

Mary said...

I loved the poem. The oversized-shoes, the childhood bookshelf. I hate those moments of renewed memories. Despite our best preparation, denial, or drugging, they seem to bubble up again. Thank you for the poem.

I would like to know more about the eye thing too.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Great poem. I totally agree about body memory. Haven't heard of EMDR. Many years ago I did Reichian therapy. Not the new agey, truncated modern version. The original version, with the breathing exercises and then talk therapy afterward with time to process the forgotten memories that hide in musculature.

So happy to be reminded I'm not alone. So happy to be in such fine company. Thanks.

Dennis said...

Presbyterian Gal - Thanks for the visit and the post - We're never alone - and you're always welcome here!

Pearl said...

I keep hearing good things about EMDR. Effective poem too Dennis.

Dennis said...

Pearl - I assure you, it didn't just change my life, it saved it.
Thanks for reading.