This Poem was Submitted By: Lynda G Smith On Date: 2004-09-21 21:57:31 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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A Pocketful of Stones

  A pocketful of stones  smooth, polished, click  their flesh-warmed granite skin to marbled skin in a shuffling quest for purpose. I wish they were balloons. A lady descends to the lake. her thoughts bottomed out like the stoned pockets that vessel the gravity  of her melancholy.   An apathetic muse in stroll   anchors granite globes  of tethered thought on strings of agony.  Thoughts flash through fingers weak and wistful; in a polished avalanche  of glimpsed reverie. How is it they can float except perhaps upon  steel stems of sheer determination? Through seasons of hibernations past they lay in frozen dormancy enclosed in their cradled crib, a swollen and ebbing pulse in the breathing permafrost  protected and protested even while it hid. Far beneath the meniscus of the mental they stirred in their icy grave  of sub-cranium soil,  a counterfeit flat-line,    concealing the turmoil, none could read, thus none could help. Fate stood upon decision clutching in the dark,  this roiled handful. How long would it take  to filter and sort them,  braille each one, lift it to the light of day or in these dark tumbled times allow the polishing of the pain to remove both blemish and beauty  leaving something  or someone… smaller and less significant  to remain in trust. Will you explain to them  what it signifies, this dust unto dust. or would their sole purpose be To line the pockets faithfully And follow the lady down.

Copyright © September 2004 Lynda G Smith

Additional Notes:
Some are dark pondering days, my sweet Virginia....

This Poem was Critiqued By: Elaine Marie Phalen On Date: 2004-10-05 09:39:18
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.92308
Lynda, I found this first on the voting finalists' list, really liked it, then today was delighted to have it appear on my personal 50-poem critiquing list. Unfortunately, I lack time this morning - have to put the horses out since it's finally clearing up - and in any case, I could not do your imagery full justice. I love the metaphorical language throughout this piece. The stones become so many things, while still remaining what they are. We cannot remove their weight, but can make of it something creative, or therapeutic, or at least signifiacnt. They are evidence of our existence, with all its griefs and darknesses. This poem seems to be three spearate entities. Those first seven lines could stand on their own. The longing for release from burdens is evident, and beautifully expressed. Then the POV shifts to third person, and the "lady" as main character is observed in her sorrows. There are so many superb images here! "Tethered agony" speaks once more of inescapable heaviness. Thoughts flash through fingers weak and wistful; in a polished avalanche of glimpsed reverie. How is it they can float except perhaps upon steel stems of sheer determination? The thoughts and stones appear to be parallel, associated with the speaker's mental state. Neither can rise to the surface, yet each bears the potential for transformation. The stones become stemmed blssoms; the thoughts themselves are pebbles. Wonderful passage! "Fate stood upon decision" opens the third section, with another shift in perspective and also, after "determination" [above], a change in verb tense. Present has become past and remains so for the duration of the poem. Now, the speaker now seems to be addressing some larger force, the workings of destiny that are moving this other party toward her choices. Resignation or survival? Acquiescene to the Fates, or resistance against them? How long would it take to filter and sort them, braille each one, lift it to the light of day or in these dark tumbled times allow the polishing of the pain to remove both blemish and beauty leaving something or someone… smaller and less significant to remain in trust.[?] Ay, there's the rub. If we smooth our losses and regrets, we also lose something of the texture that makes our lives multi-dimensional. Without the darker aspect, how can we recognize the highlights when they come? A polished stone is lovely but it is also somewhat sterile. It offers no further possibilities. Will you explain to them what it signifies, this dust unto dust.[?] I do suggest question marks where appropriate, including the poem's ending, since the speaker is asking rather than stating. But whom is she asing? Who is the "you" suddenly appearing for yet another POV change? I am taking it to mean the larger purpose which drives us. The force that moves stones, polishes or batters our lives, and decides how we will finish whatever we have begun - this seems one interpretation. The other is that the speaker is talking to her friend, the bearer of these stones; this other person is also "the lady", who must come to some course of action. In the final analysis, I sense a "human shipwreck" idea, the lady sinking beneath her own ballast, down into the waters that have grown too cold and turbulent to swim. When we make our exit, do we truly lay aside our stones? Or do they accompany us, in spirit, to wherever we go next? Is there a karmic principle which insists that we carry past obstacles, for later expiation and release? Does the dust reassemble into old shapes, new mountains, similar rocks? And can we ever fully empty or spiritual pockets, at all? This is a poem that raises many issues, and tantalizing reflections radiate from it, like the limbs of a starfish. I'm glad to see its position in the top group this month and hope it remains there, as it is most deserving of such recognition. Brenda

This Poem was Critiqued By: Karen Ann Jacobs On Date: 2004-10-02 23:25:50
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.57143
I read your poem last night and it has been in my mind since. I hadn’t expected the ending and even though it made me very sad I couldn’t help but think that when I have to go that going with the stones I love so much in my life wouldn’t be such bad idea. Thank you for sharing this dark and beautiful poem. It had so many original phrases that twisted the images out of my mind. This is my favorite stanza, “An apathetic muse in stroll anchors granite globes of tethered thought on strings of agony.” If I were making a book of my favorite poems this one would be in it. Kay
This Poem was Critiqued By: cheryl a kelley On Date: 2004-09-24 13:46:22
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Lynda, your words are beautiful and souldful, truly a dark pondering. This poem reminds me of the flat-line feeling of depression. This stanza really sums up the whole impression or purpose of the piece for me: A lady descends to the lake. her thoughts bottomed out like the stoned pockets that vessel the gravity of her melancholy. the rest is more descriptive of the mood then the surprising ending come back to the stones: or would their sole purpose be To line the pockets faithfully And follow the lady down. Makes the reader question if this is about the womans suicide as she descends into the lake with her pockets full of stones. A dark piece,with beautiful language. I enjoyed it ... Cheryl
This Poem was Critiqued By: James Edward Schanne On Date: 2004-09-22 10:59:37
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.26531
I've just got stoned. These lines string together nicely and make me contemplate the rocks in my head. I wish they were as polished as your poem. I see nothing to change in your poem. Just let me say thanks for a very good read.
This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne M Uppendahl On Date: 2004-09-21 23:07:43
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Lynda: It takes a true understanding of depression to write poetically of it with so much precision. This poem moves me for several reasons -- because it is good (excellent), because it is truly frightening to realize that one can (again) experience such depths of misery, which while hibernating within one -- "breathing permafrost" --and emerge at will, it seems, to grant the kind of suffering that those who haven't tread this path will not comprehend, and for more personal reasons. Last week was my late son's birthday -- someone who would have understood this poem more perfectly than I, if he were to read it. On another note, of synchronicity, I have written two poems this month, each with the word "stones" in the title. Thinking in terms of Jungian symbolism or of the collective unconscious, I can't help but feel that there is something at work which connects us in these several respects. A pocketful of stones smooth, polished, click their flesh-warmed granite --auditory and tactile imagery here is brilliant skin to marbled skin in a shuffling quest for purpose.(oh! the intensity) I wish they were balloons. (Here we learn that the speaker is not 'willfully' holding onto this state of extreme malaise -- indeed, the implication is that the experience is not only involuntary, but an unexpected reoccurrence. Often I think that the depressed are unfairly blamed for their condition, as if somehow by willing it they could simply be cheerful. This thought infuriates me!) This strophe is an entire poem unto itself: A lady descends to the lake. her thoughts bottomed out like the "stoned pockets" -amazing that vessel the gravity of her melancholy. "vessel" as a verb, implying the force of the melancholy against the 'vessels' of the speaker, as well as a boat-like container -- of her searing melancholy... An apathetic muse in stroll anchors granite globes of tethered thought on strings of agony. --only one who has 'been there' can write with such white hot clarity Thoughts flash through fingers weak and wistful; in a polished avalanche of glimpsed reverie. How is it they can float except perhaps upon "steel stems of sheer determination?"--we see how the speaker has endured thus far Through seasons of hibernations past they lay in frozen dormancy enclosed in their "cradled crib",--incredible two-word capture of the hell of depression a swollen and ebbing pulse in the breathing permafrost protected and protested even while it hid. Far beneath the meniscus of the mental--remarkably apt they stirred in their icy grave --the metaphor is chilling and also appealing of sub-cranium soil, a counterfeit flat-line, associations for me: stone-like expression, headstone, "Flatliners" concealing the turmoil, none could read, thus none could help. Fate stood upon decision clutching in the dark, this "roiled handful".--so much meaning in these two words How long would it take to filter and sort them, braille each one, --incredible use of 'braille' as verb here lift it to the light of day or in these "dark tumbled times"--exquisitely limned allow the "polishing of the pain"--if we go over it again and again, looking for a self beneath to remove both blemish and beauty leaving something or someone… This raises the question of what is left in life without beauty or pain. Is there a central core of identity aside from our experiences (beauty and pain)? smaller and less significant to remain in trust. Will you explain to them what it signifies, this dust unto dust. --words from the Bible, spoken at funerals -- highly evocative or would their sole purpose be (perhaps a word-play with 'soul' as additional inference intended?) To line the pockets faithfully And follow the lady down.---these words seem to descend with a weight of their own Magnificent work. Mournful, and somewhat frightening. One which will stay with me for long after the reading. I love poetry like this, which explores the depths of human experience with such incredible beauty of language. My hope is that the writing of the work provides solace. The poem undoubtedly will increase understanding for those who haven't experienced this state of mind, or been very close to someone who has. But then again, most of us write because we...must. Brava! My best always, Joanne
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