The Old Stone Savage

The boulder is a natural monument to the great herds of bison that once ranged over the entire prairie and was used as a “rubbing stone”. Location: Arm River Valley in Saskatchewan, Canada

The old stone savage moves slowly. You and I would not notice his nomadic ways.

A rock of considerable size, the old stone was only a speck of primal dust when earth’s violent labor pains delivered its raw materials. Angels clung to each other in fear and awe of its clamorous birth.

Having arisen to the surface, the young stone left his siblings behind and traveled on an ice flow until he came to the valley floor where he now rests. He is surrounded by wooded hills and rocks born of another but congenial family. Cows often come to scratch their backs on his shoulders.

If you are fortunate enough to find him awake, you can hear him humming.

His tunes are stolen scraps of songs he’s gathered over time. Deeply resonant melodies, the ones that travel on higher frequencies. The ones he remembers are without words for he has no such language.

Some are only simple refrains, but such a variety. Here’s a waltz. There’s a Gregorian chant. Flutes, violins, a melancholy saxophone.

But there’s more, composed by his neighbors and companions. Symphonies from the oaks. Jazz tunes from wildflowers. Sparkling melodies from the spring creek. Echoes from the canyon.

He grows silent as a hawk spirals great circles on thermal updrafts. For a brief moment, the stone feels he is the hawk, air rushing under wide spread wings.

Moonlight winks off the thousand quartz eyes embedded in the old stone savage, igniting a fire which burns within the caverns of his ancient weathered heart.


This poem was inspired by Natalie Goldberg and Robert Frost. Natalie approaches writing as Zen meditation and spiritual practice.

Natalie approaches writing as Zen meditation and spiritual practice. From a writing prompt in her book Writing Down the Bones, she suggests:“Take a poetry book. Open to any page, grab a line, write it down, and continue from there. If you begin with a great line, it helps because you start right off from a lofty place.”

What I ‘grabbed’ was the phrase ‘an old stone savage’ from Robert Frost’s Mending Wall. In Frost’s poem it is spring and he is walking his fence line, struck by his neighbor’s appearance as together they replace stones in their mutual wall.“I see him there bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top in each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.”

When I read that line, my mind’s eye saw a great burly old boulder, rather than a man. He had history. I developed a great affection for this ancient being while discovering his back story.

The photo, which I discovered later, has history as well. The boulder is a natural monument to the great herds of bison that once ranged over the entire prairie and was used as a “rubbing stone”. Location: Arm River Valley in Saskatchewan, Canada

Background music for writers

Some of my writing friends listen to music for inspiration, mostly notably Lia Keyes who is working on her steampunk novel and listens to Phantom of the Opera. Seems like the perfect choice for what promises to be a deliciously, dark mystery.

Normally I don’t listen to music while I write, but I’m intrigued by the idea of using my auditory senses to help ‘set the mood’. 

Here’s my dilemma though. What in the world would make good background music for a book with cats as the main characters, an evil professor and his Whisperer, a magical book of power and a host of mythological characters ranging from the dark to the light side, and settings that range from the ancient Library of Iskandriyah to a small public library in the foothills of California.

See what I mean? Suggestions welcome.

In the meantime, I’m going to check out Five great ways to find music that suits your mood,  a Mashable article that reviews several websites that let you pick out music according to your moods and emotions, rather than artist, genre or title.

What do you listen to, if anything, while writing?

Waking up without coffee

hubble_34sfwMusic takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson