poem: invitational presence

poem: invitational presence

like the lodestar
in the dark of night
calling us to safe harbor

the host setting
an extra place at the table
for the unexpected guest

the healer connecting
deeply with others
through their own wounds

the creative soul
offering its expression
as a gift to the universe

the True Self animating
our life together
in communities of belonging

the spirit uplifting
the life and dignity
of all oppressed beings

the dear friend who
senses our need
and reaches out in support

being the invitational presence
subtly communicating to all
one’s radical acceptance and inclusion

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
July 22, 2022

self photo “Opening the Heart Chakra’

Author’s note: Each of us can cultivate
an invitational presence which is key
to fostering healthy beings, relationships,
and communities of authentic belonging.
An excellent resource on invitational
presence and belonging is Toko-Pa Turner’s book,
‘Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home.”
This is an area I must continually work on due to
a temperament for solitude.

poem: the poet in times of war’s calamitous uncertainty

poem: the poet in times of

war’s calamitous uncertainty

witnessing, entering the chaotic fray
with nothing but words of reality on the
ground and perennial truth of the ages

resisting the post-truth totalizing
systems of fascist lies and violence
of the powerful and controlling

oh, Liberty, perennially calling all
to live free of oppressive
tyrannical authoritarianism

bodily, directly, non-violently,
affronting the oppressor’s
indignities and injustices

with no assurance of personal safety,
soul bared, wounded healer,
lamenting, revisioning, transforming

more imaginative, true, authentic, holistic, just,
life-giving alternative counter dominant
cultural ways of being together in diversity

veritas vos liberabit

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
March 24, 2022

Images: 1) ‘Ukrainian teacher bombed out of her apartment by Russians’ by Justin Yau/Sipa
USA, 2) ‘Maternity ward patient
and her unborn baby killed by Russian attack on the hospital’ by Evgeniy Maloletke/ AP

Author’s note: ‘Veritas vos liberabit’ is latin for ‘the truth shall make you free.’

My poem is written a month after Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine and the continuing war resulting in approximately 5,000 Ukrainian civilian deaths, millions of refuges leaving their country, cities bombed to the ground, Russia commiting war crimes, and a very uncertain future for all. I wrote the poem remembering that poets through the ages have always been the bane of authoritarian tyrants, as poets, within the poetic tradition and the expressiveness of the poem, are prepared to reveal the darkness of war and tyrants, in ways that perhaps preachers, journalist, diplomats, heads of state, and others (except the survivors) are not able to do. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, poets are the only ones capable of articulating the transcendent nature of things by identifying ‘symbols’ and ‘emblems’ of the world. Thus we see a role of the poet as truth-bearer of the prophetic tradition.

poem: for the Ukrainian women in the black parka and scarf (I am signaling you through the flames)

poem: for the Ukrainian women
in the black parka and scarf
(I am signaling you through
the flames) 

her blue eyes squint
from the sting of the smoke
flaxen hair covered with
a large white bandage
her high cheekbones
smeared with blood
lips searching for words
which do not come
hands extended, palms up,
crying out for justice

her weary visage
hangs in the ether
of eons haunting us
for the hundreds of million
war casualties from stones,
arrows, bullets, bombs,
humans cruelty and incarnate evil
fueled by human desires for
power and control always
resulting in violence 

may her suffering
ignite in us
the awareness that
the line of peace and violence
runs through every human heart
asking our self: what is the mirror
of life holding up to us, what are
we creating and how is it creating us,
and what is it we intend to create
here upon this earth home 

thus may the compassionate heart
of the enlightened mind overcome
the sovereignty of death culture,
such that in her suffering we lament,
embodying the life force and peace
in every breath, manifesting
peace is every step, our lips
perpetually chanting peace,
shalom, shanti, salaam, and our poetry
defeating the conqueror with word 

in our third eye the bloodied woman
with her haunting blue eyes and flaxen
hair and high cheekbones transforms us all 

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
February 26, 2022

photo Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Images

Author’s note: It is with great respect I
credit quotes from my poem from other
master writers and master teachers.
The subtitle of my poem is a line from
the poem ‘Poetry as An Insurgent Art’
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Stanza three,
lines six through eight are by the writer
Mark Nepo and line nine and ten are by
the writer Gary Zukov. In stanza four
‘the compassionate heart of the enlightened
mind’ is a Buddhist teaching taught by many
including Sogyal Rinpoche, and ‘peace is
every step’ is a book title and teaching from
Thich Nhat Hanh. All of these writers and teachers
are masters of their art and should be read and
studied for their wisdom especially in the area of
peace and life viz-a-viz violence and death.

May be an image of 1 person and standing

poem: a thief in the night (stuck in time)

poem: a thief in the night
(stuck in time)

in her lucid dreaming
she returns to the
farmstead of her youth
with her family
every night as she sleeps

each morning upon
her awakening she ask me
‘how did I get here,’
‘who brought me here,’
‘what is this place”

never mind that
we have been married
50 years, lived in this
house for 35 years, or never
been apart in the last 5 years

sitting on the bed’s edge
looking into her eyes
I remind her she has
been on the farm all night
while she slept

now back home with me,
that we have not been apart
for a second for many years,
in our house where we raised
our family filled with love

a thief in the night,
stuck in space and time,
the dementia confounding,
now each moment together
all the more sweet

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
November 29, 2021

Image by author
“just resting my eyes”

Author’s Note: A poem
about our life together, my
wife and I, and our experiences
living with Alzheimers.

poem: the elderly couple at the mall

poem: the elderly couple at the mall

the beaming elderly couple
urgently shuffle directly towards us
as we make our way through
the crowded mall

holding my wife’s hand,
she with her cane,
people jostling us
this way and that

me thinking:
do we know this couple,
what huge smiles they have,
hope they stay on their feet

the elderly man holding his wife’s tiny hand
looks at me with prophetic eyes
and declares “Never stop holding her hand”
to which I empathically reply, “Never!”

now, his words disconnected,
saying “Youngsters,” referring to us
and “Sixty-nine years” referring
to how long they have been married

and I reply “Fifty”
as we have just celebrated
our Golden Anniversary
a few days before

now two old couples beaming,
holding hands, knowing long life love filled,
shuffle off our separate ways
disappearing into the day’s babel

love is patient, love is kind,
it is not envious, boastful, arrogant, or rude,
it rejoices in the truth; bears, believes, hopes,
and endures all things; love never ends

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
November 19, 2021

photo by jem vistaprint
“still in love”

Author’s note: The last stanza paraphrases
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, The Gift of Love.


quote: individuals with neurodivergence* belong and add value in a healthy society

quote: individuals with neurodivergence* belong and add value in a healthy society

neurodivergent conditions include autism, ADHD, ADD, Alzheimers, bi-polar, tourettes, hyperlexia, dyslexia, OCD and others that have a neuro-developmental basis