Description: I posted this once before, but I feel it keenly today. Yesterday I took my friend, Quentin, to hospital in Palmerston North, a 400 kilometer round trip. Quentin used to be six foot tall, but now he about 5' 6'' because of his collapsed vertebrae, the result of his main cancer (multiple myeloma). To control this he takes thalidomide and enough methadone to knock out a horse for pain relief. He also has Non-Hodgkinson's lymphoma, which thankfully has gone into remission for a while. For most people that would be quite enough, not to mention his diabetes and asthma. Quentin, however has a third unrelated cancer which is threatening his life. He had an aggressive squamous cell carcinoma removed from his scalp with a 5 cm hole and a skin graft. Unfortunately it has come back, hence the trip to Palmerrston. They told him he will have to have another operation, wider and deeper (8 cm diameter and down to the skull, even removing the top layer of skull bone). I found it distressing listening to the surgeon convey this news. Quentin took it better than I did. You will appreciate the relevance of this poem.
THE WEIGHT OF STONES -------------------------------------------
Life presses his chest with granite,
Boulder upon smooth grey river stone.
His breath more shallow drawn,
His blood running ever colder.
Stones are the slaves of gravity.
He feels their awful weight
Dragging him to singularity,
Yet this is more real
Than all his life before.
“Confess you are but glacial dust.
This is your terminal moraine.”
He feels the tearing of his muscles.
This is the place where sinews part
And whip crack his tendons snap.
At the breaking point of bones
The hyenas will suck your marrow too.
He is time and care and river worn,
Tumbled and rumbled in life’s gizzard.
The spark of spirit is ground down to dust.
“Confess you are but silica and shale.”
But listen to that faint last groan,
“I pray you lay on one more stone.”
hope it doesn't sound too harsh, but your poems context is lowering its lyrical value. you don't leave enough space for further interpretation, though i'm aware that in this case it is not absolutely necesary to do so. i just think that art should be free to have any given sense to the reader, thus an explanation as explicit as yours force the reader to feel like you do, though it is more beautiful to do so without any explanation.
apart from that, i guess i still have to say you did a good job with this one. a brave thing to say. stones are slaves of gravity. i guess the weight of stones is a splendid metaphor. but its all gravitys fault. i was kinda missing that. you had a lot of that goo stuff in there, you just didn't completely use it. a poem with a lot of potential. use syntax more wisely other than just creating tension through the lenght and the positioning of stanzas. gottfried benn (little aster) or paul celan (death fugue) are always a good example, they knew how and when to place word to create certain moods, emotions or anything else.
rambling on again, i'm sorry.
see you around,