Digging for poems

My response to dVerse Meeting the Bar: the Golden Shovel Form


Above, below and in between

I trace familiar features with my

Fumbling, feathery finger.

Up, down, under and

Over, I feel well-worn skin with my

Tentative thumb

Memorising the

Tensions before I squat

Over the ink pot, filling a pen

That rarely rests

Knowing that I’ll


Under your skin with



© Kim M. Russell, 2016

Images found on Pinterest and www.bbc.co.uk

WhimsyGizmo has given us a fun form to play with: the Golden Shovel, whereby you take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire and use each word in the line(s) as an END word in your poem, keeping the words from the original line(s) in order. When finished, you can read down the right margin, and have the original chosen line(s) intact.

One of my favourite poets, and I have so many, is the late Seamus Heaney. My husband gave me a copy of Heaney’s New Selected Poems for Christmas, so I have scanned through it for inspiration and came to the conclusion that I could be writing golden shovels all day. But then I had a light bulb moment – why don’t I start with ‘Digging’, one of Heaney’s most famous poems, and take it from there!  The original lines are:

 Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests.

I’ll dig with it.


19 thoughts on “Digging for poems

  1. What are the odds that you and Debi chose the same poem? I almost thought that I had already commented here when I saw the name of the poem. 🙂 I like that your pen is rarely at rest…that’s a determined and committed writer. Nicely done, Kim.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seamus Heaney is well-loved, especially in the UK and, of course, Ireland. He is one of my favourite modern poets.
      What you said about being determined and committed, Gayle, I think is more like a mania. I can’t sleep so I’m up really early and I write for several hours in the morning. If I don’t write I get restless and irritable. I have to take notebooks when I’m away from home, on holidays and long trips, because my head is always full of words and rhymes. Sometimes complete poems just tease me until I let them out, otherwise they run away again! All the time I was teaching full-time, I got depressed because work got in the way 24 hours and stopped me from writing. I used to run creative writing workshops and they were my only opportunity to join in and get some writing done. I can breathe now and the poetry just keeps coming! Oh, sorry to rattle on… 🙂


      1. I wish I had some of that mania, Kim! I can see how those pent up words could make you feel irritable when the time and place isn’t available to express them. When I first started writing poetry at the time I started my blog, I felt more that way. I seemed to be brimming over with ideas and inspiration…I’m not sure what happened to that but I don’t feel as driven as I once was. I miss it really… I take it that you’re retired now from teaching so you can more readily get those ideas down more easily? Thanks for sharing, Kim and I’m glad you can breathe now. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your passion for writing seems to parallel my own. While still working, I had to steal moments to find the time; now retired, it is easier, in between other projects of Me-Time. You rocked this form, this prompt; very impressive, for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Glenn. I’m struggling with laptop problems at the moment, so I’m reading on my Kindle. Can’t do much writing on it as the predictive text keeps playing up!


  3. Oh yes — agree with De on this one — excellent choice of original pies for a golden shovel; and I love your expansion on the last lines: “dig under your skin with it.” Excellent! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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