The Last Three Stones of January, 2016


Small Stones for Jan. 29 through 31, 2016


Jan. 29 2016

I wake to the ubiquitous white blanket, white page, unmarred

by footprint or by word. My eyes crave a prism, the sparkle

of diamonds in sunlight, they’d even settle for sunbeams passing

through white sapphire, through crystal, rhinestone, even cut glass,

anything but this flat white under grey sky that greets

morning upon morning.



Jan. 30 2016

The zodiac signs as shown in a 16th-century wo...

zodiac signs in a 16th-century woodcut ( Wikipedia)

Yesterday, a call-in show. Today, a blog post,

both focus energy on questions of astrology and how

some days our lives attune to messages from the stars, while

other times nothing goes according to the plan.

Both radio and blog remind me there is more to it

than merely sun sign. The planets, too, rise and recede,

and what moon sign held sway at the hour we arrived?

How much weight to give such influences, when

as a woman, I know the moon-tide’s cycles hold sway

just as the moon affects the high and low tides of the sea.

And I wonder how the elements of fire, water, earth and air

reveal themselves in the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Aries, the Ram

Aries, the Ram ( Wikipedia)

How does the Ram, a creature of the earth, manifest itself

instead as Fire? How is the Water-bearer, Aquarius a being of Air?

Aquarius, the water-bearer

Aquarius, the water-bearer (Wikipedia)

And how much weight does any of it have on the story of my life?







Jan. 31 2016

English: Animated image of Earth rotating.

English: Animated image of Earth rotating. (Wikipedia)

While we sleep, the Earth rotates east

In January the obliquity of the ecliptic offers days

where darkness falls too soon. It’s an illusion that

days grow shorter as we age: in truth a century ago

Earth’s time to complete its daily rotation 1.7 milliseconds

shorter than today.  And time still flies.  Already,

I have entered February, working on the news for

the coming fortnight. Already, I have thought past

Valentine’s Day, contemplated the coming of March

and its changeability from lamb into lion or lion into lamb.

I am not wishing the days by, although I long for

the return of green. With it will come another birthday.

If I might wish for anything, it is to stop counting.

The time is short - - 695749

The time is short – – 695749 (Photo credit Keith Edkins: Wikipedia)


Small Stones for Week 4 January 22 through 28, 2016

black_stones_and_leaves_stock_photo_170410Still struggling with finding inspiration, making me realize again what a great tool it is to have a source of daily writings to respond with. I admit sometimes wondering why I continue but the practice eventually has its benefits as daily writing becomes a part of every day routine. Or at least, that is my intention.



Small Stones for January 22 through 28, 2016

Jan. 22 2016

Weekly I vow to tidy up my office, sort papers,
file it all, making room for those projects that are active
and the ones still forming in my mind, I promise

Carol’s Desk

my desktop will be clear, pristine, holding only
the one file I’m working on at the moment. And,
to sort through my baskets, downsizing, excavating,

new archaeological digs for the treasure of forgotten poems.
I will spray them, and polish them, put them up for adoption,
submitting or uniting them in a marriage of manuscript.

But each week, in the evenings, after lights out, after bedtime,
the imps and the gremlins tiptoe softly to the study, slyly open
every drawer, and pull it all back out again, creating chaos once more.

Jan. 23 2016

Tojo makes a nest in my workbag

Tojo makes a nest in my workbag

There is a furry demon who lives inside my house.
He’s an excavator, an inquisitor, always got to know
what lurks inside the waste bin, what lies behind a door,
what’s under the green blanket, when he pulls it to the floor.

Paper on the table is a toy for him to dance,
he pulls it one way, then the other, as if in a trance
the movement soothes some torment, relieves boredom,
stuff like that. He’s a demon, that Tojo, my Siamese cat.

Jan. 24 2016

Some days there are no voices
but my own. Sunday and the world is remote
in its cold white, but here, just the cat and I
He with his own pursuits: sleep, eat, chase shadows
while I keep company with white pages, hoping
that words will come from within to populate
the blank screen like a giant eye with its white glare


And the cat discovers his other game, to create
a cat-shaped hole in the face of such white glowering
and he will sit there, blocking menus, hiding icons until

the music starts or voices raise from the speakers
It hurts his ears or wounds his pride, or perhaps his dignified
pose as porcelain cat, and he exits, stage right, tail flourishing.

Jan. 25 2016

the therapist kneads and prods the places
in my back, asking if it hurts, and where it wasn’t,
it surely is as she pokes her fingers deep into the knots
in muscles, stiff and tight from sitting too long
not working on those stretches and extensions

Jan. 26 2016

I plan each morning to spend time at keyboard
immersed in new poems or
fine-tuning the old, carving the crispness
into each line, or carving out the flab
of wording that takes the long way round.

Instead, I bog down early in the Ethernet gab
the flow of spam, phishing, and all those newsletters
I had to sign up for, so interesting did they seem
at the time, but now just another way
to procrastinate and postpone that moment when
another day begins with not much to say.

Jan. 27 2016

Languishing on desk top, a book of days,
and one of writing dangerous things an entire year
become paperweights that bow down the inbasket
its sturdy plastic not quite up to the chore
of supporting files on workshops, files of poems for rewrite,
a calendar, an empty notebook, and all of my intentions.

Jan. 28 2016


Last day of the fourth week of January
another week of Small Stones, each week in its own
figurative cairn, each Stone stacked carefully
on the growing pile of ruminations on
the day-to-day inconsequential, small confessions
of the large intentions that fizzle into little progress
but lit here and there the occasional flash
of self-insight, small breakthroughs to spur the coming months.




Small Stones for Week 3 (Part 2) Jan. 19 to 21, 2016

Small Stones for January 19 to 21, 2016






Jan. 19 2016

“I know of no species of plant, bird or animal that were exterminated until the coming of the white man. The white man considered natural animal life upon this continent as “pests”. There is no word in the Lakota vocabulary with the English meaning of this word…” — Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux, 1868-1937 from 365 Days of Walking The Red Road, Terri Jean

Luther Standing Bear (1868–1939), a Native Ame...

Luther Standing Bear (1868–1939), Native American writer & actor (Wikipedia)

Cry for the animals whose spirits no longer roam
our forests, the fish absent from our rivers, the birds
no longer soaring above us, nor raising young in nests
sequestered in our trees.

Polar Bear (Sow), Arctic National Wildlife Ref...

Polar Bear (Sow), Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska (Wikipedia)

No thought was given when we cried instead for progress,
sent toxins and noxious fumes into the air. They are the spectres
that return to haunt us in the rising waters of the North,
the torn fabric of the ozone, the rusted red pillars of evergreens.

They bear witness to the legacy of industry, and to the truth
that we never foresee consequences, searching always
for solutions and forgiveness for our sins
of commission, of omission, always deadly.

Jan. 20 2016

“It is easy to live within the shadow of fear, procrastination and pessimism…” 365 Days of Walking the Red Road, Terri Jean

The Scream.jpg

Public Domain Wikipedia

With this, I would argue that it is not an easy shadow, but bears down,
a heavy iron curtain blocking out the sun revealing itself in
rain shadows that live in winter, never shedding soft warm tears of a summer sky.




Jan. 21 2016


“This morning the light/Changes on the wall opposite”— from Venetian Light, Crow-Work, Eric Pankey


And I think about winter sunlight, crisp and white by noon, then
golden and slanting from the west by 3 o’clock.
In summer, the light in Vancouver, different from Eastern light

English: Looking downriver on the Fraser River...

Fraser River, Vancouver, BC. (Wikipedia)

somehow more mellow, yet white, not yellow, till later at evening
as it sinks into the mirror of the Fraser River
The sun shines more brightly over Canada even in winter, while

the light in Budapest seems watery at best, somehow the sun
always telling time as 3 o’clock. Even English light in January, more like
candlelight than sun, not the bright star that reigns over Ottawa.





Small Stones for January 2016 Week 3 (Part 1) Jan. 15 to 18, 2016

photo credit: Carol A. Stephen

Week 3  sees the days longer, sun, where it is not hidden behind clouds rises earlier in the morning, and with the sun I begin to rise earlier too.  Before I sit down to write, I first spend a little time reading, goal this year is 75 books, and I begin the week having read 9 so far.


Jan. 15 2016

A carrier shoulder strap on a backpack


Each new worry given strength by doubt
builds its own mountain, fills backpacks with
its rocks for me to carry as my burden
Logic never wins this battle, no matter
how I teach myself why each fear is a chimera
always the tiny voice saying “but you don’t really know…”



Jan. 16 2016

I hear the laughter: his, my own
when I try to plead my case for why worry
holds its sway. One side of me knows it’s foolish
the other has its doubts. Always it is the doubter
that wins out.

Jan. 17 2016
Horizon silhouette against
a purple twilight sky, the song dog
lifts his muzzle to the wind
and his desert dog song soars
skyward in a moon moan to
haunt the coming night.

*song dog quoted from Alice Notley’s Culture of One

Jan. 18 2016

Missing the words of Rilke or the wisdom
of Anishinaabeg, the teachings of the Dene,
words come slowly or stall in the January sky
finding only weather and the harsher side of winter.
Reading only the indecipherable, the inscrutable,
even the poems are waiting, perhaps for Spring.


Rainer Maria Rilke

Rainer Maria Rilke (Wikipedia)