Katharsis” was among my offerings for the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project last August. Many thanks to Plain Jane who sponsored and provided the title.


The questions, as always: which rocks to ignore, who will
place them, and how to defy the laws of mathematics.

Note: you will create two separate walls to build one.
You will measure length and depth. You will weigh consequence.

Dig a shallow trench, and set your first two foundation stones
at a slight angle, high points on the outside, low ends meeting

in the middle. Count your failures and multiply them by 100.
Let gravity share the burden, then discard every one. Take

care in selecting your stones. Scorpions lurk in the dark,
underneath. Wear heavy gloves. Use leverage. Seek balance.

Avoid the smooth and rounded, as they too readily relinquish
their footing. Select hard-angled, rough pieces. Accept

faults, and work with them. Stack carefully — the two walls
should lean inward, touching, each bearing the other’s

weight. Work alone, but think to the future, with strength in
mind. Be deliberate. One stone, followed by another. Repeat.


17 thoughts on “Katharsis

  1. Really enjoyed this. And absolutely only because I happened to be looking in a dictionary a word sprang to my attention (before you wrote this but is obviously relevant!) “parpen” a stone passing through a wall from side to side, with two smooth vertical faces. Must look in a more complete Oxford as this is a little confusing now I look at it again…. Anyway I enjoyed the poem, thank you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Re-reading this (I do wish I had more time to re-read all the wonderful posts the WP community puts out there) two things really struck me. The metaphor of the poem to writing, which I got the first time, but there was a certain pathos I didn’t feel before, a pathos that is the writer’s burden. The second was the innovation Brunelleschi brought to create his famous dome in Florence. A preview of the PBS Nova special, well worth watching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rmz0q42k7Aw

    Liked by 1 person

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