A Series of Short Poems About Rocks

These aren't quite haikus, though they're heavily inspired by them. To my mind, they're too subjective, and tell too much of a story taken together. I like them both individually and all together. So I put pictures in between them to divide them up in the reader's eye. So that you can see this is not one long poem with many stanzas, but many short poems on a common theme. And the theme is rocks, and my relationship to them. I hope you enjoy reading at least some of these, as much as I enjoyed writing them. Just take the time to read them as separate poems, one at a time.


Rocks sing constant songs
Avalanches, quarries, lava
Songs from where they came

Rocks sing constant songs
Sand and dust and memories
Songs for where they'll go

Rocks understand
Eruption is birth to them
Rocks know birth

Rocks understand
Sand is death to them
Rocks know death

Rocks understand
Sand can form into sandstone
Rocks know rebirth

Rocks resonate with
The rocks in the ground
Rocks are social

Rocks in my hand
Sing only in tactile ways
Rocks talk through touch

I can feel a rock
Telling me and other rocks
Of its secret past

I can feel a rock
Resonating with my bones
I can speak rock

Bones are made of rock
We are each carrying round
Rocks inside us all

One can throw a rock
One can make a stone castle
Rocks hurt and protect

Rocks are made into
Stonehenge and cathedrals
Rocks make things sacred

Holy is not made
Holy already exists
Rocks are holy

In my pocket
Pieces of sacredness
Kept in form of rocks

Agate is my friend
Fiery, smooth, and translucent
She sits in my hand

Schorl egg in hand
Black with a soap-like texture
Warding off bad dreams

When I close my eyes
Amethyst has same color
As the Mother Tree

Amber holds the sun
Yellow, red, and fiery orange
Sunset sparkles depth.

Lapis is a world
Deep blue with islands of gold
Yet fits in my hand

Unobtrusive brown
Spectrolite is secretive
Flashing blue and orange

Tiger eye's well named
Glints flow from depth to surface
Like a cat's eyes

Sitting by the road
I splay my legs to the sides
Stack rocks on my knees

Grey pebbles have
Just as interesting stories
As precious gemstone

It was plain grey rocks
Who kept me company
When no one else would

Grey rocks said I had
Place in the world beyond
Human social world

Grey rocks sang
Of avalanche and mudslide
Of death sand and love

When grey rocks sang
All the ground seemed to rumble
With their wisdom

Grey rocks are not dull
They are underestimated by
Those who look with eyes

Rocks beneath our feet
Rumble to each other now
All around the world

Rocks in my hands
Tell me that I am real
Rocks in pockets too

Sitting in my hands
Rocks keep silent company
Unobtrusive friends

 

 

 

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Opals and Oyster Shells

A stranger handed her a necklace on the street
He said “I know what you are, and I know you’ll be angry with me.
But meet us in the library tomorrow at half past three
And you’ll get the answers you know in your heart you seek.”

And then he turned and walked away, abruptly as he came
And she was left so shaken she couldn’t remember her own name
For the necklace was a pendant made of opals and oyster shells
And she dared for just one moment to believe it could get her out of hell

Because hell was this world, that as a child she had just called More
Because it was More than she imagined could have existed before
Before, you didn’t imagine, you didn’t hope, you didn’t plan
You just swam in the colors and wallered in the iridescent land

And Before was so easy
And More was so hard
But there was no going back
Once they bombarded her cranium with words
She could never throw them back
So she learned to adapt
She learned to accept
That her rescuers were praised
They’d pulled her out of heaven
And into hell
But everyone was amazed
They’d taught her to speak
To read and to write
To get along with other kids
And that was all that mattered
She was just an object in their personal dramas
So she learned to live how they wanted her to live

But now she was grown
Standing in the street
Necklace in hand
And every hair on her body stood up
And she turned
And she ran

On automatic pilot she ran to the sea
She knelt down in the sand
She opened up her hand
And saw opals and oyster shells
She put the necklace on
And she cried burning tears
Of rage and desire and self-pity and shame
But most of all they were tears of loss

It had been twenty years
Since her forced exile
From the only place she’d ever felt at home
She’d tried every way she knew to get back
But the damage was already done
Once they’d given her
More words
More thoughts
More contemplation
More More
There was no going back to Before

Oh she was a success for them
She went to a mainstream school
Nobody knew of her past
Though the kids treated her like a fool
But being odd was no problem —
For the ones who rescued her
It was enough that she could talk and read

So she grew up
Got a job
Dated men
Lived on her own
Surely it didn’t matter much
If her heart turned to stone

So she stared at the oyster shell
And remembered that world like a dream
Where you didn’t need to know you existed
You just floated from scene to scene
And the colors in the opal
Brought back memories of light
Of dancing and swimming and wallering
In rainbows cast by sunlight
The oyster shell reminded her
Of the underwater ocean feel of Before
And the smooth pearly light
She had felt such delight
Until the outsiders dragged her into More

In her mind anyone seeing the necklace
Would see right through her
And the lies and broken promises of More
So she wore it under her shirt so nobody would see
But she also showed up at the library
Next day at half past three

The first person she saw
Was a wisp of a woman all in grey
Tiny and slender with black curly hair
Body dancing to a rhythm
That made her look not all there
But she recognized the rhythm
And almost bolted out the door
For the rhythms this woman danced to
Were familiar from Before,

Instead of running she stood in the doorway
Shaking from head to toe
The man from yesterday took her hand
And whispered in her ear “I know.
Some of us are still mostly Before
Some of us are mostly More
And some of us go back and forth
Like a revolving door.
It’s scary at first to see people
From your own private world
But most of us have similar stories
And it’s not so private anymore.”

She allowed him to lead her to a seat
Still shaking like a leaf
The whole floor shook, she shook so hard
And she couldn’t quite believe
But each one had something —
Their eyes
Their hands
Their movements
That gave them away
And that made her feel
Cautiously welcomed
So she came back every day

She learned that most of them
Had been pulled out from Before to More
Though a few — it seemed the happier ones —
Had simply outgrown Before
A smaller number had never really left
And kept one foot firmly in Before

She bitterly envied the last ones
She’d spent so long trying to get back
They made it look effortless
She could only feel her own lack
And yet it was they
Who welcomed her most
Who wanted to find her way home

It was one of them who made the necklace
Of opals and oyster shells
Sensing that it would best remind her
Of where she’d been

It was one of them who listened all night
To her tales of being pulled into More
Of the terrifying moment
When language appeared and locked the door

The opals and oyster shells
Felt like a bridge to Before
Not a bridge she could fully cross
But she could stand on it
And swim in an ocean of sensation, without thought
And now that there were others like her
She could see how lucky she’d got
To feel the currents of Before overtake her
For the briefest moment’s glance
It made her feel that
Maybe
She had a chance

[This is a true story. It’s not my story. But it’s the story of too many people I’ve known. It was written in response to a writing prompt from fullyarticulatedgoldskeleton: the words opals and oyster shells.]

Cyborg

[this would be spoken word, if I could speak]

I am a cyborg
What, you don’t believe me?
What did you expect a cyborg to look like?
Certainly not a fat, ugly thirty-something is-that-a-woman-or-a-man
Certainly not someone
Who can’t even meet the standards of normal
Let alone surpass them
Certainly not me

But I am a cyborg
I am a cyborg
And I will show you
If it’s the last thing I do
Because I think being a cyborg
Is pretty cool

My first implant
My friends call my Bionic Butt
There’s a battery and controller system
Embedded in my right butt cheek
Connected to a wire
Carefully threaded through my tailbonee
And inserted into the pelvic floor muscle

My pelvic floor muscle is spastic, you see
So I couldn’t pee very well
And I kept getting infections
Physical therapy —
Electrodes on my butt playing video games —
Didn’t help enough

So the controller sends a message down the wire
Telling my pelvic floor muscles to relax
And through the combined effort of the machine
And what I learned playing video games with my butt
I can mostly pee enough
To avoid getting urinary tract infections every few weeks
And that makes me a cyborg
Even if it isn’t glamorous

My second implant is called a GJ tube
Short for gastrojejunostomy
It’s a double tube
G tube for my stomach
J tube for my intestines
Food, water, and medication go in the J tube
Bile and other stomach contents get drained out the G tube
I sleep with a drainage bag on thee G tube
Collecting my bile all night
So it doesn’t go up into my lungs and give me infections
Meanwhile the J tube
Lets me bypass my stomach
Which is partially paralyzed and mostly useless
Because most of what I put in it (or that it makes itself)
Doesn’t get passed to my intestines
It just sits and sits doing nothing but making me feel sick
My feeding tube saved my life
And I love it uncondittionally

My third implant is called a PowerPort
My veins aren’t good
The more I go to the hospital
The worse they get
Until I’m seeing six IV nurses
In one day
Because my veins infiltrate that fast
And they are having to use
More and more obscure locations
Smaller and smaller veins
Veins that won’t take the medication
That needs to go into them

A port is a device implannted into my chest
It is triangular with bumps you can feel through the skin
The shape and the pattern of bumps
Tell doctors what kind of port it is and how to use it
It is connected to a tube
That goes to a deep vein
Almost right up to my heart

They can draw blood from it
They can put medications into it
They can put CT scan dye into it
All just by putting a needle
In the middle of the triangle
And they can use medications
That smaller surface veins
Like a normal IV
Would never tolerate
And I may never again
Have to be poked ten times in a row
To get the right vein
That then only lasts an hour
I was ecstatic when my doctor
Finally said yes
Yes to a port
Yes to the end of the IV torture
We both know the risks
But at this point in my life
It’s worth it

I am a cyborg
Because I am a human
With machine parts

But wait, you say
Aren’t cyborgs supposed to be
Able to do things other people can’t?

Well can you totally drain your stomach
Every time you get nauseated
So that you rarely actually throw up?
Can you eat all day without taking a bite
Or even noticing you’re eating?
Can you take medicines
Directly into your deepest veins?
Can you press a few buttons
And change how relaxed a muscle is?
Didn’t think so.

What you really mean is that
Cyborgs are supposed to be
Nondisabled people
Receiving enhancements
Beyond what they can normally do

Which tells me that you think
Disability is outside the normal human condition
Because if disabled people were normal
Then our feeding tubes
And our central line ports
And our bionic butts
And our pacemakers
And our cochlear iimplants
And our brain-implanted electrodes
Would obviously be what they are:
Cyborg enhancements

When you tell me I’m not a cyborg
You are telling me that my enhancements
Are not really enhancements
Because they only let me do
What you can do already
(Which isn’t even true, bt anyway)
And only nondisabled people
Can be real cyborgs
Because you’re the real people
And we’re the broken ones

You see my implants
As fixing a broken person
I see my implants
As enhancing a whole person
And when it comes to being a cyborg

That
Makes all
The difference
In your mind

But I’m still a cyborg

Awe

Awe is where wonder and fear collide
And we stare out to the stars meeting the sea
And we wonder is there a place in this world for me

Awe is where my heart turns into a stone
A living, pulsating stone of many colors
That move out of the way to make room for each other

Awe is where the stones meet the ocean
In caves that took millions of years to erode
And my body tells me this is your second home

Water and earth can mean so many things
The soil of the redwood rainforests
The stone caves carved by water seeking the sea
The river rocks with holes all through them
The monsoon season in the desert rocks
The rivers carving canyons
The tiny creeks wetting tiny amounts of soil
The springs of water flowing out from in between the rocks
Waterfalls crashing down with caves behind them

And all of these things are sacred to me
And all of these things are part of me
But the one that means the most
Will always be the soil in the redwoods

Awe is where wonder and fear collide
I am where earth and water unite
I am in awe of the collision
I am in awe of you and of me
We are made of the stuff of the earth
We are made of the stuff of the water
I have only to look at you
To see a metallic daughter
With the earth kept tight inside
Like a vessel full to bursting
And I have only to look at myself
To see moistened soil from the forest floor
And I could see even more
The plants that grow, wither, and die
And decay to become part of me
The wind with a sigh brings down
Dead redwood needles and cones

And it doesn’t matter where you go
Or who you are
You have only to look at the ground
Below your feet
Or up at the stars
The clouds roll overhead
A thunderclap hits a little too close
And that beauty and awe is back
But you’d better run home

Haiku #4: Mother’s sacrifice

feral cat knew traps
told my friend: take care of him
led her kitten in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like most of my haikus, this is from a true story.  If you want to read more about Coal (the mother cat), and Shadow (her kitten), and even see videos of them, I would recommend reading Cats (topic submitted by kriswald) on my tumblr. The haiku is the short, poetic version. The tumblr post is the long, detailed version. Both have their merits and their drawbacks.

I hope they will give you a glimpse into the way that a mother’s love and self-sacrifice doesn’t change just because the species has changed and she isn’t human. Just as the squirrel haiku shows that a mother’s exasperation with a tiresome toddler doesn’t change either. The look on that ma squirrel’s face, I’ve seen on humans, cats, dogs, rodents, anyone who has kids and is fed up to here with them.