Be Still and Know

Be Still and Know

veiled in mindless mystery
the new year starts with fog
a wind of chilled uncertainty
a silent shroud of doubt

there are no sounds of distant trains
no birds, no passersby
no dreamy thoughts of far off Springs

just loneliness
just me
just I

but as I hear my trembling heart
craving love’s sweet warmth

whisper words from long ago

be still

be still and know

tio stib

You might also enjoy: If; Inspiration

Lumpy Gravy, Thoughts on Writing Well

I’m working on the rewrite of a chapter in a new book and in spite of hours of effort, when I pause to listen to what I’ve written, it sounds like lumpy gravy.

Yes, I realize that gravy doesn’t talk, sing, or make any other noise, but it still seems the perfect metaphor for my imperfect words. In case you’re not familiar with gravy and, in particular, lumpy gravy, a brief description-

Gravy is a sauce made from cooked meat juices, stock, and other ingredients. One ingredient is flour, which is used to thicken the sauce. When the flour is added incorrectly, the result is lumpy gravy, little balls of unmixed flour in the sauce, a culinary no-no. Like good writing, I believe creating good gravy, a sumptuously smooth sauce, is a combination of rigorous practicality and delicate art.

My own experience is that lumpy gravy usually results from hurrying, compromising time and care because of impatience, setting an unrealistic timeline for creating something that simply cannot be rushed. There is a proper order and way to add and mix ingredients. don’t do this and you get lumps.

what are the lumps in my writing? Words and phrases that don’t sound right, feel out of place, don’t fit the desired style, don’t truly support the theme. Adverbs and adjectives that were easy to insert but, upon reflection, don’t add anything. 

What I write seldom comes out smooth and lump free the first time. Admittedly, I rarely succeed at creating lump free gravy either. In cooking, there are two ways to fix this, stir or whisk much more, or, something few will admit to, strain the gravy through a sieve to remove the lumps. 

This is what rewriting is all about, the writer’s process of removing the lumps from his work through careful consideration, in my case, listening as I can’t see what I’ve written. Often I brainstorm words, sentences, even paragraphs. with the magic power of today’s word processing technology and my text reader friend, Alex voiceOver, I can quickly try and listen to many options, until I hear something that is smooth and feels right. And on I move to the next paragraph.

Ultimately, I’m the cook in my word kitchen and I know, that unless what I’ve written passes my taste test, unless I’ve taken the time, done the work, to make perfect, lump free, gravy, those words can’t leave the kitchen.

tio stib
2018, 2019, 2021

You might also enjoy: Writing Well

Burning Dreams

today
I burned our dreams

all the visions
all the goals
all the plans we’d made together

I placed them on a funeral pyre

lit them up

let them go

watched them melt in flames
felt them float away in smoke

and I smiled

for together
we lived those dreams
walking hand in hand

in the heart of God

tio stib

You might also enjoy: The Memory of a Single Rose; Inspiration

Good Humans Being

there is a dream
that I hold dear
of times when men
have grown past fear

when lies and hate
have blown away
when hope and love
guide each new day

yes
this may be fantasy
something that can never be
but I need this dream
to feed my soul
to guide me places
I need go

I dream of one day seeing
a world filled with
good humans being

tio stib
2017, 2020

You might also enjoy: “Desert of Dreams,” “First Snow

The Challenge of Climbing Mountains

most think the challenge of climbing mountains
is reaching the top
sweating
aching
heart pounding
pushing past fear
step by step
to finally stand victorious
in the rare air
above the clouds of ordinary being
surrounded by distant views
of unclaimed summits

but
with each descending step
the real work begins
returning to the valley of everyday existence
the spirit begins to shrink
atrophy
for it can no longer be fed
by ordinary life

the real challenge of climbing mountains
is never surrendering the summits of our dreams
to stand alone
bold and free
with only mountaintops
for company

tio stib

2016, 2019, 2020

You might also enjoy  Breaking Trail, Dead Horse Point 

Flavors of Friends

Some are vanilla,
predictably plain
Dependably true
always the same

Some are exotic
quixotic
sherbets with fireworks lives
occasionally glancing
to check others’ eyes

then the specials
like bubblegum treat
beautifully different
sumptuous sweets

Yes, chocolate, strawberry,
and rocky road too
friends of all flavors
some licked and
some chewed

like ice cream
I taste them
each one of a kind
then off on their way
they melt in my mind

Yet over the years
a few friends remain
these flavors I savor
again
and again

tio stib

2014, 2016, 2018, 2020

You might also enjoy : My Daily Lama,  A Mirrored Smile

There is Hope

As I had for many mournful months
I sat at ocean’s edge
 
alone
lost in stillness
mesmerized by the tranquility
of wavelets lapping
up the silent sand
 
the sun reached down
and stroked my hand
warm, soft, strong
much as her touch once
comforted my starving soul
 
then memories blinded tearful eyes
the darkened day turned cold
but then I heard the sounds of joy
the sounds of life renewed
children laughing
singing, screaming
a songbird flitting by
 
and I heard it
the voice within
 
at last,
there is hope
again
tio stib

You might also enjoy: <a href="https://travelswithtio.com/2018/02/22/blind-man-on-a-bench/">Blind Man on a Bench</a>, <a href="https://travelswithtio.com/life-journey-thoughts/">Life Journey Poems and Prose</a></p>





			

If, by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling, 1895

Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)

When I’m down and feeling sorry for myself, “If” is one of the poems I return to for inspiration. Here are YouTube links to great readings of this poem, the first  by Holly Musgrove, the second by Sir Michael Caine-

“If” read by Holly Musgrove 

“If” read by Sir Michael Caine

Life is a gift and a responsibility. Let’s make the most of it!

Tio Stib
2019, 2020