Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones

By J. Caleb Jones

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 deaths?
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 ears and eyes
To latch upon the human soul compelling it with truth or lies.
A stick can 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 alone can harm me.

“Me” is not the flesh I’m in
But also that which 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.
Though dreams may come with lucid sight
It’s not the eye that takes the night
And shares it with the waking world.
By words alone are they unfurled
From dreamers’ minds, in worlds beyond,
To this world when the day has dawned.
The rising sun makes dreams abscond
But words give access when they’re gone
To unseen worlds of dreaming souls
To spirit themes that take their hold.
These are words for which men vie:
Ideas for which they’ll live and die.

Sticks and stones may break my bones; But words are clothed in power.

*        *        *

I’m between two camps of men, but I reside in neither
The first believes that speech is good, and if not good then either:

The truth will rise up to the top,
Or lies will to the bottom drop,
When words are thrown into a pile
And left to fester for a while.

I live among the men who say
That speech is free, that all’s okay.
They seem to think that nothing comes
From merely speech. The real outcomes
Are in the world we see before
Our eyes. Beyond: there’s nothing more.
Their logic lives within this world. Beyond they cannot see.
They do not hear what is not seen. That’s why I can’t agree.

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 in some distant 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.

Can it be that men agree
With things they know are lies?
Can it be that they should be
Enslaved to lies devised
To give them all their eyes can see
While holding back true verity.
Can spirits be so mis-aligned,
That healthy eyes at noon are blind?
Can you and I, like Judas, take
Some silver in some grand mistake,
With eyes wide open, souls opaque,
Embrace and kiss what we forsake?
I’ve done it. So have you, I’m sure.
So let’s repent and find the cure
To open eyes that still are blind,
To caustic words: untrue, unkind.
Your words are what you will become
Your tongue cannot be overcome.

Sticks and stones may break my bones; But words enslave forever.

Fear of God must find us if we hope to truly see.
Wisdom does not come to those rejecting piety.
I am a man of unclean lips.
There’s venom from my tongue that drips
Upon the ones I fiercely love.
I often place myself above
The souls I love but fail to see
When I’m the one who speaks. Yes, me.
Can spirits be so mis-aligned,
That healthy eyes at noon are blind?
Is there some light I cannot see
That shines but burns when touching me
Demanding I confess and see
What I was always meant to be:
A man who suffers in the fight
And loses, yet, he stays upright.
Why do I shield my eyes and flee
From lights I know but cannot see?
And is my soul so full of spite
That I love darkness more than light?

Men and women listen now: Your words endure forever.
Guard them. Keep them. Make them pure. Let truth be your endeavor.

Bend your soul back straight again
When courage calls you, act like men.
Your moral fiber must persist.
Though speech is free, you must resist
The twisted nature of your soul
It is a dark and hellish hole.

Sticks and stones should break my bones; My words are what condemn me.

*        *        *

I’m between two camps of men but I reside in neither
The second knows the strength of speech and wields it like a cleaver.

They see the power of the word
But think objective “truth” absurd.
Without that truth, oppressions end,
For with fake truth, they see men rend
Great worldly goods from groups of class.
Blessed are the few, cursed are the mass.
The claims of virtue, truth, and facts?
Excuses, justifying acts.
This camp is disillusioned souls.
Its founding narrative controls:
“The so-called realm that lives beyond the world we see is fake.
That narrative exists to justify all that they take.”

The second camp of men will say, that truth is out of reach
That ev’ry word we utter is a grasp at pow’r through speech.
That is why this group is wrong.
They think they’re weak, but they are strong.
And that is why we find attacked
Ideas of virtue, truth, and fact.
They seek through words to equalize
The diff’rence between truth and lies.
They rip the unseen world of words
To shreds, ensuring nothing’s heard
That gives offense or can oppress.
With chants and lies in laws they press
To make their fashioned world “the truth”
(Unless one day it’s deemed uncouth).
If so, out goes the new memo:
The new world’s come. The old must go.
But “new” is not quite apropos
They usually say “‘Twas always so.”

Sticks and stones may break my bones; But words are stronger weapons.

*        *        *

A mind of wisdom should control,
but strength comes through the heart and soul.
Courage calls you. It is true.
And it will give great strength to you.
Prudence binds,like chains or ropes
That saves great men near clefts and slopes.
Gain excellence! I do implore.
Be better than you were before.
In all, retain your self-control.
Do not let passions rule your soul.
Be faithful and let faith be true.
Hold fast to higher things than you.
Be gentle in your speech and tone,
Or else, you’ll find yourself alone.
Be good for goodness is the truth.
Remember lessons of your youth.
Be kind for kindness heals the holes
That show in weak and wounded souls.
And patience must be given free.
You’ll need it too, I guarantee.
Peace should be a quality
Of souls that see reality.
When facing sticks and stones have joy.
For that is what they can’t destroy.
Love should be the capstone crowning
Every virtue, each abounding
In a soul that’s truly free.
that radiates reality.
Let any man with these things be
The one who guides and speaks for me.

When sticks and stones do break your bones; To words lend eye and ear!
Though sticks and stones will break my bones; The Word saves those who hear.

[Please feel free to share, but do not reproduce without permission.]


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