Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?
Sticks and stones do shatter bones, but I cannot agree.
Who says these tools made equally
Accessible to you and me
Are harmless, never causing strife—
That never do they take a life?
Sticks and stones evolve to spears
And swords and shields and battlefields.
Bones do break and lives do end,
Were sticks and stones what did them in?
Does one man see another’s sword
And say himself, “I’ll join. I’m bored”?
What moves the men who hold these arms
To leave their cities towns and farms?
Do generals wield sticks and stones to lead men to their death?
Are these the dulce and decorum at the men’s last breath?
Men do march, and risk their lives,
Distribute death to take their prize.
Is everything that’s overthrown
Thrown over by a stick or stone?
Words alone pass through the bone that holds in place the ears and eyes
To latch upon the human soul compelling it with truth or lies.
A stick may break a body’s bone,
But words can hurt more than a stone.
The bruise is seen more than the lie,
But I know some who hope to die
Beneath the strain of verbal jest
That strikes the heart within the chest.
These banal words need not be true,
To hold the power that they do—
A power that can kill the soul.
Each verbal arrow takes its toll.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can truly harm me.
A soul is not a thing and therefore things cannot control
The hopes and pains that rise and fall upon the human soul.
I am not just flesh I’m in.
I am the soul that lives within.
A sleeper has her ears and brain,
But speech to sleepers is in vain,
Until the psyche wakes to reach
The words that souls exchange in speech.
When dreamers dream their dreams at night
It’s not the eye that takes that sight
And shares it with our realm of day.
But words can travel back that way.
These words bring passions of the soul,
These passions grip and have control.
These passions in our hearts supply
Ideas for which men live and die.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words are filled with power.
Words can gather and divide;
Words encourage and deride;
Words reveal as well as light
The truthful things beyond our sight.
Words create great lies as well
That send their hearers into hell
Not merely in some life to come,
But in this world, where we’ve become
So flippant with our words and speech,
Ignoring just how far they reach.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words unleash a plague.
Lies, like seeds, are made and thrown.
They bear their fruit once they have grown.
But I have kept my honesty.
I only speak of what I see,
And I don’t fear a stick or stone
That pierces flesh or shatters bone.
Those whose lies blow in the wind—
They will see their words again.
They did not think, when they did throw,
That they would reap what they did sow.
But I have words, and I have speech,
And they will see how far I reach.
Then swords and shields and arms and men
Will gather by great words. And then,
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but I can also wield them!
Words reveal as well as light
The truthful things beyond oursight.
But words create great lies as well
That send their hearers into hell.
But who unleashes hell by choice?
I’ve read they follow someone’s voice.
Whose voice is that? What does it say
To lead great multitudes this way?
I know my psyche, housed inside
My soul, speaks words to open wide
A world beyond temporal sight
That dreams bring to my mind at night.
But God! How dark my dreams can be!
How do these nightmares come to me?
Does darkness shadow dreams I see,
Or is the nightmare actu’lly me?
Is honesty the truth, and do I fail in honesty?
Or does an honest evil soul breed falsehoods inside me?
Can it be that things I see are not the truth, but lies?
Can it be that I might be enslaved by lies devised
By habits of iniquity–
An ignominy within me—
That latches on my dreaming soul,
And takes away my true control
To see, perceive, or know what’s true
Or what an honest man should do.
Is my soul so mis-aligned,
That though I see, my eyes are blind?
Tell what profit comes to those who gain and then control
All the earth, but in that gain, exchange their living soul.
What is the truth? How does oneknow
What words should guide the way we go?
Can you or I, like Judas, take
Some silver in some grand mistake,
With eyes wide open, souls opaque,
Embrace a truth that we forsake?
I can. I know. I have. I do.
I’ve done it thinking I am true.
I’ve claimed to speak the truth to power,
But, in truth, I only shower
Eloquence from unclean lips,
With venom from my tongue that drips
Upon the souls I fail to see.
I know there’s something wrong in me.
Sticks and stones should break my bones, my words are what condemn me.
When words are spoken, heard, and used,
When words are twisted and abused,
The human heart is in control.
It guides the mind. It holds the soul.
Are your passions pure and bright?
Has your soul never relished spite?
Our passions govern all we do.
They fashion mighty nightmares, too.
The human heart is full of darkness, who can know its breadth?
Who has counted every lie? Who can touch that depth?
Our words are what we will become.
Your tongue cannot be overcome.
Sticks and stones –O sticks and stones –bring justice! Come and strike me.
But as I lie upon this earth and die, please someone find me.
Mercy! God give mercy! Show our souls both light and mercy!
Mercy! God have mercy! Mea culpa, come and find me.

By J. Caleb Jones, all rights reserved.

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