Saturday, March 24, 2012

Prompt #96 - Stones

When I was a little girl, I loved stones – I collected them, skipped them across the creek, and sat on a large stone in my backyard to write poems. Later in life, I created a stone circle in my garden with a fountain in the center, ringed my flowerbeds with stones, and created stone walkways in different parts of the yard. I can't say that I ever consciously thought much about stones, and I wasn’t aware that stone imagery figured strongly in my newest poetry collection (What Matters) until a reviewer pointed it out. After reading the review, I looked at the poems and realized that the reviewer was right – there is a fair amount of stone imagery. My use of stones was organic, not deliberate, but I found it interesting to re-read those poems much after they were written and to think about “stones” as image and metaphor. As the reviewer pointed out, stones, pebbles, rocks and other such seemingly solid and permanent objects, suggest a way to anchor ourselves in this world. Stones can carry numerous suggestions and meanings. What do they suggest to you? This week, try using “stones” as your inspiration word and write a poem based on stones or in which stones are part of the imagery.

 Sample Stone Poems:

Ideas to Consider before Writing:

1. Has anyone ever thrown a metaphorical stone at you? A real stone?

2. What does this familiar saying mean to you and how might you use it in a poem: “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones?”

3. Did you ever skip stones in a pond or creek when you were a child?

4. How are the troubles in your life like stones?

5. Can you work this New Testament Scripture passage into a poem: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone ….” John 8:7 NRSV
6. It has long been a custom in Judaism to place a stone on the grave marker of a loved one to signify that the deceased person’s memory has been honored with a visit to the grave – the deceased has not been forgotten. (There’s a lovely example of this at the end of the movie Schindler’s List.) Can you work this custom into a poem?

7. Reflect on this old adage as the inspiration for a poem: “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”

8. You’ll probably remember this childhood nursery rhyme “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me” that encourages a child who’s been called names to ignore the ridicule and to show a stronger character than the name-caller. Has name-calling ever hurt you? How did you handle it?

9. What special “steppingstone” has been helpful to you at some point in your life?

10. What “something” in your life was just a “stone’s throw away?”

11. Worry stones are smooth, polished gemstones, usually oval-shaped, and sometimes with a thumb-sized indentation. Holding a worry stone between the thumb and index finger and rubbing it is said to have a calming effect. In Irish folklore, rubbing a worry stone crafted from Connemara marble is said to relieve worries and bring luck. Some people hold a worry stone during meditation to help center concentration. How about a worry stone poem?

12. What can a stone (or stones) symbolize in a poem? What’s your best stone metaphor?

13. Statues are made of stone – how about an ekphrastic poem based on a piece of stone sculpture? (Think Venus De Milo, Rodin's The Thinker or The Kiss, The Sphinx, Michelangelo's Pieta The Tian Tan Buddha in Hong Kong, The Fountain of Trevi in Rome. Here's an example by Rainer Maria Rilke:  "Archaic Torso of Apollo."

14. When we think of ruins, we usually think of crumbling stone walls or broken statuary. Have you ever visited historical ruins? Ancient temple remains in Egypt or Greece? A fallen cathedral? Cities like Pompeii?  Stonehenge in England? Chichen Itza or Machu Picchu? The bombed out ruins of a war site? Is there a ruin poem that you might write? Here's an example: "in the ruins" by Mark Conway.


  1. Stone Age

    How long has it been?
    Not long since the days of the cave.
    Seems like only yesterday
    We were bringing down bison,
    That old gang of mine.

    All this was savanna,
    Over there,
    Near that big boulder,
    The barbecue pit.

    Ah, the feasting,
    The fermented berries,
    The grunting.

    I took a girl
    And our bodies worked well together
    Making many children.
    We lived a while.

    On my last day
    My oldest son told me
    He would bring me back,
    And that I would bring him back,
    In turn,
    For we are all fathers and mothers,
    Sisters and brothers,
    Since the beginning of everything,
    When every stone could sing.

  2. Thanks, Russ, for posting your poem! What a great idea (the Stone Age)! Your ending is really wonderful! I can almost hear those singing stones.

  3. Brilliant, Adele, and so interesting that when I read your new book, I really did notice the amazing stones imagery. That reviewer was right!

    Thanks, Russ for posting another of your wonderful poems!


  4. Thanks, Jamie!

    It IS interesting that others noticed the stones in my poems and I didn't.

  5. A really interesting prompt! Got me thinking about famous stones: The Rolling Stones, Stonehenge, Plymouth Rock, the Blarney Stone, the Stone of Scone, the Rosetta Stone - and then famous gemstones like the Hope and Cullinan Diamonds.

    Thanks, Adele, and thanks to Russ for his poem!

    1. Thanks, Bob! It's always interesting to hear what thoughts these prompts inspire!

  6. Think of stones
    pebbles, marbles, gems, crystals
    they're everywhere
    like bones
    the earth's bones
    embedded in our language
    active and alive
    yet unnoticed
    taken for granted
    till we pause a moment and
    think of stones


    1. Thanks, Risa! I love the way you bring this full circle and "dismount" by repeating the first line. Nice accessibility and a kind of "stony," "bare bones" simplicity that works with the subject.

    2. Thank you for posting your poem, Risa! More, please!


  7. I re-read your book after seeing this prompt and, yes, brilliant use of stone imagery and symbolism!

    Always a treat to visit here.

    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

  8. Thanks to all for your kindness and congratulations to Adele for her poet laureateship! Now comes the obligatory ode to Fanwood:

    O wood of fan thou art in cherries now,
    With Spring embraced upon the village round

    And so on . . .

    1. Thank YOU, Russ, for sharing a poem with us every week!

  9. So kind of you, Russ! Many thanks!

    Love the beginning of the ode! (I wrote a limerick for the mayor and Council that I read at the Council meeting when the appointment was made.)


    If any would like to see my stone thrown poem... :)

    1. Thanks for posting the link to your poem, Hannah! It's wonderful, and I love the illustration!