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.]