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Stone Mad

25 April, 2015: Stone Mad


by Tim Joyce
Stone Mad
For Kevin Joyce
I kissed a stone
I lay stretched out in the dirt
And I cried tears down
"Crazy Jane on the Mountain"
— W B. Yeats
So we are many
I have enough iron in me
to make a nail
you could hammer me
into the sky
mind and soul
For who would wish to live
in a world where
clouds are brown
the grieving elephant
only a memory
where there is no dolphin's arc?
be howling winds in swallow-holes
be Antigone's breath in stone clints and reeks
weeping before an arrogant King
Draw my iron heart to You, my adamant
to the hiding diamond chrysalis
opaque occult speck of your restless spirit
there I will stay faithful as a standing stone
on cliffs above cold hazy seas
shimmering at the borders of a dream
My love for you Endearing One
is the Claddagh ring recovered
from white ash and smolder
at Ground Zero
Hands of silver
holding an open heart to You
lasting longer than
all etched headstones of this world
Look for me
among the limestone flags
bare rock slabs
cairns of nature
the wind-fashioned shale
On the plateau of the Burren
in fissures
where tiny Arctic flowers
impossibly bloom
enter the atmosphere
at this lonesome portal
and I will surround and embrace You
Why am I a winding stretch
of lonesome Connemara road
chilled slick with slugs of rain
walls of stone on either side
like an Achill man's broken mouth
and beyond treeless limestone
shadowed in barren mountain waste?
With my only companion
a backfiring lorry
every other week
and flock of shepherd-less sheep
blue dabs
on their curly shanks
wandering aimlessly?
Why a whim buried
in the sick heart of a shy fool
or a frail lark blown back
from the steep Cliffs of Moher?
a wreath of sweet turf
smoke circling up
from a white-washed cottage
And toward what do I
meander so urgently
into cold black mist
marble grey skies ahead
where even an
all-out howl
is muffled into a dream sound
a wet cat's purr in wild wind?
Why does this forlorn landscape
call so persistently
so tenderly to me
why was I born to end up
walking these mountain valley alone
why must I begin this journey
so soon so unready
and this evening?
“Stone Mad” by Tim Joyce is from his book of the same title. Murphy’s Law, 2013. Used by permission of the author.
Tim Joyce was born in Cleveland and, following graduation from Cleveland State, began a career interweaving journalism and teaching with the fine arts of painting, poetry and music. A former police reporter for the Cleveland Press, he has an MA in Irish literature and drama from University College Dublin and seven years in Hollywood with the Motion Picture Association of America. He has been visiting lecturer at the John F. Kennedy School in Berlin and has published four collections of poetry, most recently, Stone Mad. A prolific songwriter and painter, he has recently moved back to Cleveland from Cape Cod.


Family is what works.

Write a poem about a sibling. If you are an only child, write about a cousin, an aunt, an uncle, or a grandparent.
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READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.