“Emily* sat with her wide skirts
Spread out over the squirrels and roses
Like a peacock’s tail in the desert of my childhood
Hugging the incubus of her daydreams
And listening to her own loneliness
As though her hands could touch its shape.” Ouija Poem #1, Mike Stone, February 5, 2016
Editor’s Notes: The photographs here belong to Mike and his family. Please be respectful. Note also that Mike’s mom changed the spelling of her name from Vivian to Vivienne, hence the discrepancy between the narrative commentary and the name on the book and the header photograph. The reference to Emily in the poem above is to Vivian/Vivienne who, if she could have chosen her own name, would have chosen “Emily.” Mike’s poem above is from Songs of Joy and Pain, the complete collection of Vivienne’s poems. The book closes with some poems by Mike under the general title Conversations with My Dead Mother. / J.D.”
Dear Child, you wonder why I watch you so,
Your solemn, grey eyes now are questioning me.
How much are they like mine! How wise and still –
Brimming with dreams. I saw your fingers clutch
Your book as though it were some precious jewel –
And so it is …
A thousand books ago,
I sat as you sit now, far, far away
In some new land, my mind the strange mirror
Of what I read. What joyous life can dance
Across a printed page! Quiet little elf,
Too old for those your age, but still too young
To understand the subtle meanings of
The grownup’s world. Like me, aloof you sit,
Thoughtful, and yet, perhaps one moment back
Your little feet were flying over sand,
Eager, and swift, like wind, and close to God –
(Or what you think God is).
You deem me rude
To come and pierce your solitude. I know
More than you dream, how precious are your thoughts,
Guarded and unperceived. You see, dear heart,
We are but one. You are the child I was,
I am the poet grown that you will be.
……………………………July 13, 1948
Child of the Poet
I am the child of the Poet,
The daughter of the Beloved.
My soul was moulded by the hands
Of the Infinite Creator.
Silent and tender was His touch;
Eternal is His creation.
Reluctant to leave the warmth
Of the womb that has cradled me,
Rebellious at being thrust forth
From the secret nights I have known,
Into a strange, beginning day.
That is shared by the earth each spring,
When flowers break the hard, stubborn ground –
Shattering beauty with beauty, –
So I pierce the wind with my cries,
And the flight of years with my birth.
My Mother, is joyous and free.
Her voice is lifted in singing. –
“World, I give you my dearest child,
My vision of beauty made whole!”
And I am her dream and her song.
So you thought to love a poet, –
Dared to want a poet’s body, –
And refuse her mind!
Than the shallow well?
Know it filled with flames of heaven,
And the ice of hell?
Of the gods above,
Bind her spirit into submission,
In the name of “Love”?
Wiser men, and kings;
You are well-content with lesser,
Foolish, little things!
The Cry of the Dreamers
World, you seek to still our yearning,
Have presumed to curse the stream
Raging in our hearts, as madness,
Hailing stagnant lakes supreme;
Proudly garbed in robes of science
You dissect the Poet’s dream!
Leave to trick the stupid breed,
Lauds the fork-tongued man as clever,
Bows before the rich man’s greed;
In their midst, you call us foolish
Who would plant a different seed …
Leaving footprints in the sky?
Is it envy gnawing in you
That would suffocate our cry;
In your sterile disbelieving
Do you still shout, “Crucify!”
Shunned the beauty we would give,
Cast away the sun and roses
Of the star-born fugitive …
Ever was Life sung by dreamers
Who were not afraid to live!
Goodbye, I will not lift my lips to touch yours
In this farewell, or look into your eyes,
Instead, I’ll note how spring has come too early –
For still, within my heart, the winter lies!
Or say, in parting, that we still are friends,
For friendship cannot be for those once lovers –
The night comes quickly when the sun descends!
We know the fires of love consume, then die,
And leave no trace – no softly burning embers
To glow, but just the ultimate – goodbye!
At Onslow Bay
Spare my wild heart words of logic,
Here upon the naked sand;
Love and cautious apprehension
Never have walked hand-in-hand!
Braced against the ocean’s wind,
Think you, that I’ll halt and ponder
If I gave too much, or sinned?
On intruders’ love and pain;
Better shut and bolt it tightly –
Let me weep out in the rain …
Hold it, listening, to your ear,
Heeding not my young heart drowning
In the roaring floodtide here!
I crowned you with a golden crown
For which a prince might long;
I wrote you deathless in a poem;
I made your name a song,
And one dark night I burned your face
With kisses wild and strong.
The rhymes you never miss;
My poems you scarcely can recall;
Yet, you remember this:
That one dark night your heart was burned,
And by a young poet’s kiss.
VIVIAN STONE (a.k.a. Vivienne Stone) was born Vivian Ethel Hamm on November 16, 1927, in Reading Ohio, now a suburb of Cincinnati. She was the second of five children: Wilda (oldest), Vivian, George, Bobby, and Gloria (youngest). She attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She eloped with Alvin W. Stone and they were married on June 15, 1946, in Newport, Kentucky. After the marriage they lived in Clintonville, Ohio. Vivian gave birth to Mike Stone on March 27, 1947 and to Victoria Stone on October 11, 1951.
Vivian and Alvin were divorced on November 5, 1954 when her children were three and seven, respectively. A legal agreement, approved by a Franklin County court judge, was signed saying that Dad would be awarded custody of the children. Vivian was allowed frequent visiting rights. She moved to Virginia Lee Gardens in Columbus and subsequently married Irwin (Irv) Papish, a practicing psychiatrist from Cleveland, Ohio.
Irv was called up as an Army psychiatrist with the rank of captain and transferred down to a US base in Panama with his new wife, Vivian. Toward the end of Irv’s duty in Panama, Vivian and Irv adopted two infants, Lisa and Chris.
Thank you again, Jamie, for honoring my mother and her poetry. I am wordless with gratitude!
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Thank YOU, Mike. 🙂