Monday, February 2, 2009

POEMS BY Physician Poet John Stone


We celebrate the life and the poetry of Physician Poet, John Stone. He is the Featured Poet here for the month of February 2009.

LIVING ABOVE THE FROST LINE celebrates John Stone, his life and his poetry. In February, his birth month, Janice Townley Moore and I received permission from his wife Mae Nelson Stone to reprint some of his poems.

In talking with others who know his work well, it was felt that often the doctor poems and the patient poems get the most attention. Doctor Stone was Emeritus Professor of Cardiology at Emory University Hospital. The doctor poems such as “He Makes a House Call” and “Resuscitation” are great poems and they among others are often named as favorites.

The poems here were selected by John Stone’s widow, Mae Nelson Stone. She chose her favorite poems that show him more as the private person and the family man that he was.

We will continue to talk about John Stone and his influence on our lives and on our poetry. We will talk about his poems, and we know we shall read them again and again. --Nancy Simpson

POEMS BY Physician Poet JOHN STONE

THE BASS

Because I was 37 and he was 10
I was presumed and of course
to know everything important

plus
how to take the fish off the hook.
I'd been told largemouth

and striped bass
both either
waited for us below

the still crystal of the lake
I had no expectation though
of actually catching a fish

when somehow we did
After we hauled it heavily
in over the gunwales

like a glittering glory
no way was I about to touch
that wide mouth, those razor fins

gills, those sparkling cold-blooded
scales
until all spasm stopped

To this day my son
may think the way
to take a fish off the hook

is to place it, hook still intact
in the bottom of the boat
place a paddle over the fish

and keep your foot gently but steadfastly
on the paddle on the fish
After the flailing and flopping

I managed with something like
experience to get the hook out
Then as morning broke over us

we made our slow electric way
back to the boathouse
That fish won for us

a trophy
which I keep here on my desk
to remind me of that morning and of

how unexpected the end may be
how hungry
how shining

--John Stone
Music From Apartment 8: New and Selected
Poems
, LSU Press 2004



NOON THURSDAY

I dropped in
on my mother
dazzling in her yellow sweater
having lunch.

I sat down
at her table.
I'd seen her
two days ago

but this time
I startled her
I think--too early
in the week

for another visit.
You just appeared
out of nowhere!
she said

then asked me, smiling:
What have you been doing
all these years?
I didn't know what to say.
It's the very
same question
I've been asking myself.

--John Stone
Music From Apartment 8: New and Selected
Poems,
LSU Press 2004



VISITATION
December 2001

At Serenity Gardens, winter
has surrounded us. My mother's room
is way too warm for me,

just right for her--with an extra sweater.
Outside, this uneasy year, her 93rd,
lurches through December.

She is surely serene in this place,
thanks to whatever goodness;
queen of the electronic piano.

Among my chief duties now
I have become her human calendar,
a stay against time, her reach for the past.

Each visit, we review the years.
We sit and talk, fragile mother,
absent-minded son.

This afternoon, I assemble for her
some semblance of my long-dead
father, the only husband she had.

I tell her his story
We study his photograph.
Do you remember him, I ask?

She looks again.
No, she answers, softly. No.
But isn't he good looking!

She smiles. I chuckle.
In the gathering dark,
we cry a bit together:

I for what she has forgotten,
she for what I remember.

--John Stone
Music From Apartment 8: New and Selected
Poems,
LSU Press 2004



John Stone was born Feb. 7, 1936 in Jackson, Mississippi and he died on November 6, 2008 at his home near Atlanta. He was four times honored as Georgia Writer of the year . A memorial poetry reading was held in his honor January 14, 2009 at Callanwolde Conservatory. During parts of the 1970s and 1980s John Stone served on the Callanwolde Poetry Committee.

He was the author of The Smell of Matches 1972, 1989 LSU Press, Where Water Begins, LSU Press 1998,In All this Rain 1980 LSU Press, Renaming the Streets, 1985 LSU Press, Music From Apartment 8: New and Selected Poems 2004 LSU Press. In 1990 Delacorte Press published In the Country of Hearts: Journeys in the Art of Medicine, (Essays). The book was reprinted by LSU Press in 1996.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nancy,
I really enjoyed the poems by John Stone. Thanks for sharing them with us. Glenda Barrett

Nancy Simpson said...

Hello Glenda, I thought you would like them.

tipper said...

Nancy-I enjoyed learning about Mr. Stone. I loved all his poems you shared-especially the 2 about his mother.

Brenda Kay Ledford said...

Nancy,

Thank you for posting these wonderful poems by Dr. Stone. He was a great poet and I enjoyed these very much.

Nancy Simpson said...

Hello Brenda, Thanks for stopping by. I agree they
are wonderful poems. We are fortunate to have been able to copy a few of them. Pass on the word, and please check back. There will be more later in the month.

karenh said...

Hi Nancy,
Very nice poems. The two about his mother touched me deeply, because I have an aging mother too, who luckily still has her memory. The bass poem really painted a picture, didn't it?

Thanks for posting the poems.

Nancy Simpson said...

Hi Karen, Thanks. I'm enjoying this post so much and I keep reading the poems. I am happy other poets are reading them.

Glenda C. Beall said...

I have one of Dr. Stone's poetry books and I've read it many times. His touching poems about his mother grab me every time. I cared for an ageing mother who had lost her short term memory. My visits with her took me back to her past, a past I'd never known before.
I cherished her in her later years, but I was more mother than child. Dr. Stone's poetry shows such love and compassion.

Nancy Simpson said...

Hi Glenda, Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your response to the poems.

Nancy Simpson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynn ... said...

Wow. I've never read anything by John Stone that I didn't like, but Visitation HAS to be one of my favorites simply because I love the parent relationships that poets write about so beautifully! Thank you for posting these! Love you!

Nancy Simpson said...

Hello Lynn, I'm glad you liked "Visitation". If you want to see Dr. John Stone read his poem, " He Makes a House Call" click in the right column. Also, check back later in the month for more poems.

Glenda C. Beall said...

Visitation and Noon Thursday are two poems that tear my heart out. My mother lost her short term memory and she had to grieve again the loss of her father, mother and her siblings who were gone.
John Stone wrote with such deep feeling. I often read his poems and feel a connection with this poet.

Carole Thompson said...

Nancy,
Thank you for sharing these wonderful poems by John Stone.How much love and tenderness for his mother were revealed there! He expressed himself so gently.
Carole Thompson

Nancy Simpson said...

Hi carole, It so good to see you on the blog.

Nancy Simpson

Renee Liang said...

Hi Nancy, I'm a physician-poet from New Zealand and came across John Stone in an article on the NY Times. I'd like to feature and discuss his poem "Gaudeamus Igitur" in a blog I contribute to, http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com/. Is there any way I could contact Mae to check it's OK with her?

Thad said...

Thank you for presenting on your blog the poem The Bass. I wanted to share it with a friend and therefore did a Google search for it.

Dr. Stone was my friend, mentor, and fellow cardiologist. I loved him and his work dearly.

I thought you would be interested to know that his course on Literature and Medicine continues to live on, at Colgate University. Professor George Hudson, with Mae Nelson Stone's permission and active help, is now teaching from the syllabus that Dr. Stone developed at Emory University. I had the privilege of attending the course and presenting one of the lectures.

Amitabh Mitra said...

I am a Physician Poet based in East London, South Africa. Enjoyed the works of Professor Stone.
Please check my poetry and art
at http://www.amitabhmitra.com
http://www.amitabhmitra.blogspot.com