poem: an economy of words

poem: an economy of words

writing over a lifetime
one uses tens of thousand words
baring one’s innermost soul
to the light

words can collect like rain
in the lowlands
and burst forth
in a torrent

and words can be
hard to come by
hidden in the darkness
of stultifying events

one can be filled
to over-brimming
and one can be empty
to the core

now exiled on the high knob
in the dry desert
in hopes dark clouds pour
releasing the light of new life

Herb Stone
July 19, 2022
here&now working poetry

photo by author

poem: writing in time of pandemic, climate change, social injustice, tyranny, and gratitude for what matters

poem: writing in time
of pandemic, climate change,
social injustice, tyranny,
and gratitude for what matters

writing from our home
in Nashville, where we
are under an excessive
heat warning all this week,
high humidity and temperatures

my beloved and I
both testing positive for COVID
for the first time and
quarantined at our home,
we are managing

writing this now,
my eyeballs hurt,
my fever is breaking
and I am covered in sweat
and trying to control a bad cough

tragically, we are inundated
daily with bad news of
gun violence, mass shootings,
and extrajudicial shootings
of young black men by police

and all this, not to mention,
the house hearings on the
criminal ex-45th. ‘president’
and his fascist, anti-democracy,
insurrectionist efforts to steal election

dear hearts, grateful for
all of you who have expressed concerns
and who walk this journey with us,
blessed to belong in authentic
community with you all

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
July 7, 2022

photo by author

poem: somewhere between solitude and loneliness

 

poem: somewhere between solitude and loneliness

being here now in solitary existence
somewhere between solitude and loneliness
reflecting on recent events and experiences:
aging, disease, injury, separation, siloing,
the world and its totalizing systems

struggling, striving, sitting with challenges,
reconciling the grace of our being,
the preciousness of our life together,
and the amazing beauty of our Earth Home
with tender heart and teary eyes

busy, tired, and weary at times,
continuing at my task knowing
that we can bear it together
through connecting, belonging, and sharing,
grateful for authentic relationships and community

sitting quietly, listening,studying, reflecting, creating,
and connecting continue in this busy season of the suffering
arriving as an unexpected guest at my door,
each invited in and treated with truth and respect

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
June 21, 2022
art by Andrew Wyeth, ‘Christina Olsen, Triton’
Author’s note: I have struggled to write this, or anything else down, for over a
week. Knowing that sharing one’s suffering is very unfashionable in our
contemporary culture and society of everyone for themselves, I hesitate. I do not
share my poem from the perspective of being a victim, or a denier, or a masochist,
or from a place of apathy. Rather, I share from the perspective of witnessing,
better understanding, gifting, connecting, authentic belonging, and healing in the
tension of our suffering and our joie de vivre! The last three lines of stanza four
are after Rumi’s poem ‘The Guest House.”

Reflection: On Aging’s Bad Breaks 

Reflection: On Aging’s Bad Breaks 

My first two thoughts: we get plenty of ‘em, and aging is not for the timid. 

My beloved wife fell this past Monday and fractured her ankle. A stumble and a fall in the blink of an eye.  A good thing we were home, and she fell on the carpeted floor. 

It is a bad break to fall in the fragility of our aging, and breaking a bone is just plain bad anytime. After writing my poem for Cathey, ‘I got you,’ suddenly I did not as I was too far away to catch her. 

With the strength of our love, our deep trust in one another, and critically, a resilient sense of humor, we meet these challenges and those to come.  

I love what Anne Lamont recently said on her Facebook page about turning 68. After opining what is left for those of us aging who have witnessed the foolishness, evil, tragedies, and suffering of the world, she says: “So what does that leave? Glad you asked: the answer is simple. A few very best friends with whom you can share your truth. That’s the main thing”, and “we look up. In 68 years, I have never seen a boring sky. I have never felt blasé about the moon, or birdsong, or paperwhites.” 

Ah yes, in our aging, we cling to a few dear friends, sharing our truth and belonging, and looking up and around at the beauty surrounding us.  Please send prayers and healing energy for Cathey and a good recovery for her.

We send each of you our love, gratitude, and appreciation!

 

 

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: a lament for when loss and chaos overwhelm us

poem: a lament for when loss
and chaos overwhelm us

at times we find ourselves
struggling to follow that string
which runs in and through
the losses of old age, illness,
loneliness, and change, and
the worldly chaos of power,
control, violence, war, greed,
injustice, pandemics, and
calamitous uncertainty

trying to maintain hope
over the fear and anxiety
of personal and collective angst
rendering the mind
like runaway horses pulling
a chariot, the body like a
bag of bones, and the spirit
like a ghost, we are reduced
to a frazzled remnant of wholeness

until that time we turn around,
softly and gently opening our soul,
heart, and hands, carefully looping
that string which runs freely through
the loss and chaos of our lives
leading us to return to that place
which is our unchanging connection
to eternal Truth, Wholeness, and
Belonging

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
March 14, 2022

image: block print, ‘Mary, the Untier
of Knots,’ by Kreg Yingst

Fat Tuesday gives way to Ash Wednesday

Fat Tuesday gives way to Ash Wednesday

the clown of yesterday’s revelry
finds their self alone
in their shadowy desert cell
light flooding in and a jug of water

nothing to do but to be with one’s self
giving up the distractions
and fasting from excess, reflecting deeply
our relationship with Cosmic God

confessing our human hubris, conceit,
and sentimentality, repenting those things
that separate us from God, and reconciling
with God, the Cosmos, and all God’s beloved

knowing the trials to come
dying to ourselves
resurrecting in the New Life
radical grace and love abounding

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
March 2, 2022

Author’s note: I originally wrote this poem
on Ash Wednesday 2018 and have republished
slight variations of it since. The version above
is its third rendition.

Art by Carl Spitzweg, ‘Ash Wednesday’

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: soliloquy on aging

poem: soliloquy on aging

lately finding myself
taking some time off, slowing down,
being quieter, more still,
disengaging from daily routines,
in need of a hae’lan

it has been a long, harsh winter,
worldly challenges of apocalyptic malaise,
the ever present change of
aging, illness, loss, relationships,
community, belonging

not a single thing but a whole thing
needing time to face, and including
my shadow, imperfections, dis-ease,
slowing it down, fitting it all together
forming a new gestalt of Life (and death)

beloveds, yearning for restoration and
re-engagement, from this exilic journey,
to a new complementary perfection,
of authentic wholeness and holiness,
belonging together in radical grace and love

Herb Stone
here&now working poetry
February 10, 2022

photo: writing at my desk