The Poetry of
Jack Scott


A young stone,
one of many children of an old boulder,
spawn of older mountain,
now down upon its knees-
bald and manifold . . .

Young stone,
bearing remnant wrinkle tracery of birth
and at least one fragment manuscript
of an excellent map of home,
lies abed in stream
growing algaebeard in waterfeast,
moss in waterfamine.

It rains.
It rains upon the rains.
Rains fall upon the flood,
are gargled by the earth.
Sky floods upon ground floods;
sky has more to shed than earth can neatly hold.

The stone moves.
Stripped naked once again,
clean cut and round,
then dizzy, as if head
instead of merely head sized.

Bodiless tumbler tumbles,
cavorts tagalong with sea drawn kin,
past reluctant monoliths,
more slowly mountain pushed
for the moment,
pulled more down and on.

The roar below the flood
a symphony of touching, moving things
many many more than many,
billiards and billiards and billiards –
for the dying father behind,
obedient to the insistent mother below
calling them home once more
as sand
as time itself coursing down the hourglass,
with water as its only answer,
gravity its throat,
and no one there to hear.

There are waterfalls where water tiptoed,
now taking giant steps
on escalators gone amok:
threads, ribbons, ropes and trickles,
drips and leaks and spurts,
rocklocked, mosslipped pools and puddles,
now torrents –
permutations flowing without error,
without flaw,
engineered and executed
one way with the water,
one way only-

The young stone –
spinning, nearly swimming –
leaps with the wildness of the water,
but not to air –
there is none,
not even in the air.
It is water’s reign upon the earth,
obeying only gravity.

Stone spins out
as far as down,
strikes a larger, harder stone,
barely chipping it;
the tumbler splits and rolls no more.

When the flood has gone,
and the brown has left the water,
when the stream and pools
are reasonable once more,
I come to fish,
or not to fish,
to wade among the smooth young stones . . .
and razor rocks!

Blood streaming down the sole of my bare foot,
hurts my eye at first
more than the rest of me.
The pain is rattlesnake:
having struck it winds itself again
and waits.
Chills come,
as I look to see what I have lost,
which no one else had ever seen before.

As I saw Rome once,
and never once again,
in a tiny ancient onyx bust –
in stone a woman
so lovely that in touching her
she haunted me with her foreverness . . .

If she were that to me –
her flesh in onyx in my hand,
her eyes to my adoring eyes –
so did indeed the rest of Rome exist
and I knew it in that moment
in the museum with my friend.

Upon the fresh cleft stone that slashed me
where the blood it let from me
flows onto its crystal clotting,
upon its regularity there is a seam,
a mate to the slash it made in me
the size and shape of my fresh wound
as if my foot and it had once been one
then sundered.

Upon that mirrored gash
where the blood it took from me
clots dark upon its fractured grayness
there is a seam running diagonally
the size and shape of my fresh wound,
more the color of my clotting blood
a moment past
than garnet,
more the hue of my flowing blood
than ribbons or a flag
In my pain there is a thrill
of familial recognition.

Rome passes,
one leaf of many,
time stripping bare the tree of eons.
I sit, faint and swiftly bleeding,
alone beside my wound’s companion.
now freshened with its borrowed blood,
the low west sun upon it . . .
darkening . . .
I touch it with my foot
to see if it’s still flowing.
smoother than the stone around it,
yet sticky moist,
and cold,
throbbing, it pulses,
as I’m getting lost in time
and further from the dimming day.

The stone’s wound –
it’s guest?
. . .or prisoner?
Should I honor its sanctuary?
Or set it free?

These token tools I carry
would break upon it;
with harder tools from home,
what would I be freeing
by dismemberment?

As I touch it with my hand
there is no seam
between the stone and our wound.
It is all one of a piece
older than any city I ever knew the name of,
yet here . . .
with me.

No way to take the whole thing home;
my brother is too heavy
for this limping man.
No way I’d really want to:
put it on the mantel,
in a case,
into the basement.
That is entropy.
Some things are meant to be
just where you find them.

The years have flown,
the day is swiftly fleeing,
and I with it
albeit at a hobble,
a Sphinx at twilight.

I will return each noon
to visit
until it goes away,
or I do.

I hate to see mountains come to their knees.
Young Rome was my limit in time
when my onyx woman beckoned,
showed me the way to come with her
away from the museum
where she was serving time,
and I was killing it.
Certainly I went with her;
she could not come to me.

Whose blood, congealed,
has mixed with mine,

I am become blood brother
to an ancient dying mountain
and am suddenly very tired.
How far in time can I now go
to see older brother young,
crowned with laurel,

Mountain has come to me –
not far,
as the trout swims . . .

Stars that died as mountain was born
beamed out their epitaphs,
which we have not read yet.

Mountain has come to me.
How far can I go to mountain?

L2 ®Copyright 1972 Jack Scott. All rights reserved.