My soul clings to the dust. Ps. 119.25

How like the dust my soul can be. I see
it sometimes, dazed and inattentive in
a ray of light, or settled in a thin
coat on a table, waiting languidly
to be wiped off. It falls in easily
with just the slightest breeze or passing wind,
and drifts off nowhere, much to my chagrin.
Such aimless, listless seasons trouble me.

Perhaps it’s true that I am merely dust.
But even dust has purpose, and I trust
that, in my more devoted moments, when
I’m neither drifting, dazed, nor lolling, then
I’ll shimmer in the light, and lend my weight,
though slight, to tip the scales for something great.


In Mad River

Apologia pro vita sua

An ancient boulder, relic of a long
forgotten past, stands resolute and strong
amid the shallow, stumbling waters of
Mad River. Facing to the sky above,
and framed by forest glory, he confronts
the crazy current, almost like he wants
to say, “Slow down! What’s all the rush about?
There’s beauty here, and you can find it out,
but first you’ll have to take a hard look at
yourself, and let your soul remind you that
there’s more to life than rushing here and there.
Just look and hear: there’s glory everywhere.”
The river doesn’t listen, for it’s bound
by earth’s attraction, and the only sound
it hears is of the rushing crowd, the din
of “Faster! Newer! There’s a race to win!”
And yet the old rock perseveres. Streams come
and go, but he abides, a witness from
another time, content to see the sky,
to share the forest’s grandeur, and to try
to slow, if not to change, Mad River’s crazed
rush to oblivion. He is unfazed
by his obscurity and meager gains.
For him it will suffice if there remains
a legacy, known by a few, who see
in him what they themselves might like to be.

NB: Vermont’s Mad River flows north from Granville Gulf to Middlesex, where it joins the Winooski River. The Mad River Valley is a popular tourist region, due to its beautiful Vermont scenery and two ski areas, Mad River Glen and Sugarbush Resort.



T.M. Moore’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, and he has published five volumes of verse through his ministry’s imprint, Waxed Tablet Publications. He is Principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, he and his wife, Susie, reside in Essex Junction, VT.

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23 Responses

  1. Amy Foreman

    Both beautiful poems, T.M. “Dust” is one of the finest sonnets I have read on this site–elegant volta and inspiring, optimistic couplet at the end. Your poetry adeptly engages the corporeal with the eternal with an overarching Biblical worldview: demonstrating the captivating interaction between the Creator and the “created.” In that respect, your poetry has the power to speak to anyone and everyone.

    In addition, T.M., your poems bear up very well to repeat readings, and, in fact, the more times I read them, the more I like them!

  2. James A. Tweedie

    T.M. You have captured with elegance and skill the exquisite mystery where the words “dust” and “life” were joined together to produce a creature of such complex transcendence as a human being; a creature the Bible declares is more appropriately compared with angels (“a little lower than . . .”) and with God (“in the image and likeness of . . .”) than with anything else in creation. One does not ordinarily (or naturally or easily) identify mere dust as partaking of divine holiness. Even so, the Bible is audacious enough to make such a claim and you have been clever and perceptive enough to grasp this enigmatic truth and render it into verse that is simple, articulate, and beautiful in every way. I find these two poems to be everything that Amy has previously described and I congratulate you on their (and your) success. It is my opinion that the closing couplet of the first poem joins truth and beauty together in a way that I can only explain as having been inspired. No doubt you felt the same way when those words suggested themselves and appeared on the page in front of you! Thank you for sharing them with us this morning.

  3. T. M.


    Thanks so much for helping on the final couplet of “Dust.” What I had originally was not only insipid, but distracting from the point I hoped the poem would make. Your suggested revision directed me to the present lines. I’ve very grateful for you insight and help.

    • James A. Tweedie

      The Muse speaks with many voices and from many directions! All too often we fail to take a step back from what we are doing so as to take the time to listen for what she might have to say to us. Invariably, her words are better than our own.

    • Evan Mantyk

      You are very welcome! Thank you for sharing your poetry with us.

    • Peter Hartley

      I have commented before that T M Moore’s earlier contributions have been among the very best that I have read, and re-read and read again and again on this site, and these little offerings do not disappoint expectations. I have also suggested somewhere that some contributors are more interested in describing or developing ugly themes couched in repulsive language, language better vaunted on the back of a toilet door in a public convenience. I do wish that more poetry was concerned with elevated thoughts and the sublime as this is, and less to do with the unpleasant and the obscene. I cannot believe that if we transposed Wordsworth to the twenty-first century he would have abandoned his lonely clouds (I’ve not often seen a lonely cloud, incidentally) and his daffodils to concentrate on the fascinating shapes and patterns formed by piles of chewing gum stuck to the pavements outside every off-licence in the UK. As with the present two poems I want to feel better for having read them

  4. C.B. Anderson

    T.M., Not bad, but I have some issues with your rhymes in the Italian sonnet. “languidly” does not really rhyme with “easily.” You are rhyming “-LY” with “-LY,” which isn’t much of a rhyme. “-LY” is only promoted to a stressed rhymed syllable because of context: the thrust of the meter, and it’s position between two unstressed syllables. “[E]asily” rhymes well with “queasily,” but does “apostasy” rhyme with “hypocrisy?” It depends. The two words assonate almost perfectly, and so the final promoted syllable is supported as a legitimate end rhyme. I had much more to say, and I said it earlier, but my computer doesn’t seem to get along with this format, so much was erased.

    • T. M.

      Point taken. I shall change the offending lines to read:

      coat on a table, waiting there to be
      wiped off. Or else it falls in easily

  5. David Watt

    T.M., your sonnet, “Dust”, speaks to the profound truth that we are all created for a purpose. I really like the fact that you have eloquently expressed those moments when ‘something great’ may transpire.
    Although “In Mad River” presents the rush and tumble of waters, it retains an essence of beauty, and provides an equally uplifting message. Well Done!

  6. David Gosselin

    Dear T.M.,

    Dust has a great ethereal beauty about it. One of the highest qualities a poem can aim for, I believe. Very nice.

    I’d be interested to see more of you’re material. Feel free to submit something to The Chained Muse.com. If you’re interested, you can send what you’d like to:

    The ethereal quality of “Dust” reminds me of another poet’s work, Daniel Leach:

  7. Gleb Zavlanov

    Dear Mr. Moore,

    I love your poem “Dust.”

    It has a surprising and very original metaphor. I wish I could’ve thought of something so imaginative, of how an individual can be like dust, measly and insignificant but nonetheless capable of glowing in the light and tipping the balance even if slightly.

    Thank you for the great poem.


    • T. M.

      Gleb: Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. It always surprises me how much beauty, wonder, and profundity can be provoked by the smallest and most ordinary things.


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