Stele

A word has power
Whether mined by
demagogues
for control
or carved into stone
for memorial
It can carry us
into exile
From ourselves
From our homes
A word can steel
the heart
or build an edifice
of faith in the future
It sifts or unites
and defines
Yet
destroy the word
You steal
time

rosetta stone

Top photo is the King Ezana Obelisk in Axum, Ethiopia. መንግስቲ ኣኽሱም (Ge’ez language) and  የአክሱም ሐውልት (Amharic language) for the word Axum, photo taken by Ondřej Žváček; bottom photo of the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum

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18 thoughts on “Stele

  1. What a beautiful way to describe the power of the word. You’re right when you say that whatever the purpose, the word can steel or melt the heart.
    Thank for this. I’ll read it again, once I’ve sent the message.🙂🙂

  2. This poem packs a powerful punch, Mary Jo. (And whether intentional or not, the juxtaposition of “Stele” in the title and “steal” near the end is quite effective.)

  3. How beautifully written, Mary Jo. How do you come to your subject matter? Does the poem find you? For me, a poet’s mind is indeed a mysterious unknown. I have known that our lives are made up of words that we digest, embrace, embed. There are things that we can never understand except with our hearts.

    • Thank you, Rebecca! There are different ways the subject matter of a poem happens for me, at least. Nature inspires, and my mind discovers metaphors through experiences and thoughts in those particular settings and in memories of them. (I attribute this lifelong habit to Thoreau and Emerson) Often it’s a topical or even a universal subject that has seized my attention. Many times it’s suggested by other literature, sometimes spiritual. Occasionally dreams. At times it’s emotional catharsis. Other times a phrase comes to mind and keeps building on itself. In all cases the words themselves mostly come from ‘out of the blue’ or somewhere deep inside, from memory or inspiration, that mysterious motivator. The writing is unorganized, and the ‘work’ comes later…while trying to shape it intelligibly…trying to retain the essence and not let logic overpower spontaneity.

      How would you describe your own creative process? How to do you select and frame your photography and videos or decide a topic for your blog, podcasts, and the suitable media? It seems your environment inspires, and you just go for it, capture it, then edit and find all the right words to accompany them. From the heart!

      • You have given me much to think on, Mary Jo. I will come back when I have reflected upon your words. It is indeed from the heart. I had goosebumps just reading your comments.

  4. As Dave said, your poem packs a powerful punch. The power of language is infinite and incalculalble. And what poets can do with it is beauty beyond measure. I do love it so.

  5. Such a wonderful poem, Mary Jo. Yes, words whether written or spoken are the most powerful tools we have and can be both encouraging and healing, or destructive and hurtful. It ‘s up to us to use that power we have been given wisely and circumspectly. I am reminded of the Bee Gees’ song ‘Words’ in which this line is repeated many times, “it’s only words and words are all I have to take your heart away.” *hugs* to you.

    • Thank you so much, Sylvia. Your words are a balm, as I remember all my conversations with my little sister over the past year. We made sure our words to one another were kind, forgiving and sweetly nostalgic. Hugs back for you!!

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