People in Glass Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones – Unless They Want Them Sorted

I’ve gathered up the thrown stones

Deftly stepping among the ones still flying

Almost believing they were aimed at me

While no one can say for certain

Perhaps some deeply buried paranoia

Has led me to that odd belief


Clearing the landscape, opening spaces

So many stones; with different shapes, and different sizes

Rolled a few and carried many others to a central hub

Formed many a cairn indeed; rights included

Those odd-shaped piles dotting the landscape

Appearing like drifting continents in an endless sea


In between collecting, I spent time cataloging

Sorting them by when and where they were cast

By whom, and my best guess at the reason

As the first ones usually come without attached sin

I felt it imperative to give them inflated status

And formulated a defensive strategy for their protection


I used the lesser ones to build a wall

Buried up to their backs in soil, kept at the bottom

Shoring up my foundations with their strength

Adding layers; each one classier than the one below it

Higher and higher those defenses climbed

Until at last as I stood in the long shadow of that wall


And soon the thrown rocks were unable to hit me

Yet….they were still being thrown

By whom and why, behind this wall, now unknown

All that work and nothing changed at all

So I tore down my wall, watched it fall for all to see

Left myself defenseless in a hail of artillery


Then I gathered even more and sorted them yet again

Obsession my deconstruction and my steps for the win

But this time I sorted by the color of each stone

Brown, black, and yellow moved away from the white

The segregation of colors just seemed to look right

Until a shift and the stones fell like meteorites


The collision of color opened a palate unrealized

And as more stones were thrown, order was compromised

Despite my distaste, the colorful pile was in harmony

But it wasn’t right, didn’t matter, no that just shouldn’t be

Mixing colors was suspect, so maybe shape was the solution

My task was immense and would require redistribution


Ignoring the shades, and colors, and hues of all manner

Decidedly, bigger and smaller sorting must be the answer

Boulders on the wings, pebbles and river rock as inner members

And the tiniest grains of sand safe in the center

Yet that which I constructed lasted only momentarily

More flying stones chipping away at the mighty


Scanning the horizon for guidance, staring in silence

A hailstorm of stones filled the skies; shouting defiance

My inability to find common ground left me confused

All my sorting seemed overused and unapproved

Since still I remain unable to see or espouse

I’ve chosen to retire to the safety of my glass house



Author’s Note

This piece integrates many of the major social issues the world is facing today, using the age-old analogy of “people living in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,”  as a stepping off and landing piece.  The hypocrisy seen in most social issues goes far beyond anything imaginable, often with the biggest “stone throwers” being highly subjective and selective with both their targets and subsequent outrage over other “attacks.”  The fictional central character of this work tries in vain to sort the thrown stones, but ends up with no viable “solution” to the unspoken “problems,” which are really based on many social conditions the world is in dispute about; status, race, slavery/exploitation, military might, and religion.   Too many differing opinions lead the main character to the realization that it’s impossible to present a solution that everyone finds acceptable – this final understanding is the key point.  Just because something seems right by our moral compass doesn’t mean everyone wants to see it end.

Latest posts by R J Schwartz (see all)

R J Schwartz

I write about everything and sometimes nothing at all. I'm fascinated by old things, rusty things, abandoned places, or anywhere that a secret might be unearthed. I'm passionate about history and many of my pieces are anchored in one concept of time or another. I've always been a writer, dating back to my youth, but the last decade has been a time of growth for me. I'm continually pushing the limitations of vocabulary, syntax, and descriptive phrasing.

4 thoughts on “People in Glass Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones – Unless They Want Them Sorted

  • July 5, 2017 at 5:56 PM

    Interesting piece Ralph, both poignant and thought-provoking. We humans spend a great deal of time judging rather than accepting the differences that make us individual and unique. Nicely penned and another great work.

  • July 5, 2017 at 5:57 PM

    This is so creative, Ralph. Your mastery at word-craft is an unmistakable metaphor of social issues in today’s world. Very clever indeed. I grew quite attached to the ‘stone sorter’ as I followed along with his thoughts. Remarkable !

  • July 5, 2017 at 10:34 PM

    I nearly went out of control on this one – I cut about 16 lines as it was getting overly-busy. But it was great fun combining two concepts; so much that I’m sure I’ll do it again.

  • July 7, 2017 at 2:52 AM

    This is quite a masterpiece, Ralph. Both in the penmanship involved in writing this poem and the commentary of today’s social issues interwoven into the text. An excellent read and basis for contemplation.


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