Published Work

In the Present Tense:
Portraits of My Father


In the most personal of all her books and the most wrenching to write, Myrna Stone chronicles her father's long, charmed, and often difficult life to its inevitable end.

In the Present Tense: Portraits of My Father was a finalist for the 2014 Ohioana Book Award in Poetry.


I Drive Him Back to His Vacant Childhood Home

The barns, the fields, the woods he trapped in
and creek he fished, the ice and smoke and out houses,
and the house itself, its clapboards and kitchen
ell, all look, he swears, the same. He grouses

a moment at the ramped-up wind and cold
that keeps us in my car, then starts a full-bore
description of how he and his siblings, bold
as ravens, watched through gaps in the floorboards

their parents making love. "Weren't you about
six?" I ask, but he's pointing toward the parlor.
That's where my mother was when she bled out,
he says, then tells me what he told his brother

that day, busy tossing jacks at a skillet:
Basil—Mommy's dying—you've got to be quiet.


Praise for In the Present Tense

Myrna Stone, the author of The Casanova Chronicles, a memorable sequence that is one of the best long poems in recent years, has moved from Casanova to her own father—and chronicled the texture of a relationship as well as the tenure of a mind gone to ruin. These conversational sonnets demonstrate the elasticity of a form devoted to love; Stone also shows us that some of our greatest love stories are not the ones we expected.
— Kim Bridgford, author of Instead of Maps, Undone, and Bully Pulpit
Myrna Stone’s In the Present Tense is a powerful work—not just because it chronicles the last, difficult years of her very elderly father (in first class sonnets) but also because of the sweep she achieves in documenting the orbit of all those involved: from family members to other assisted living patients. It’s a breadth that only the best writers can achieve—sadness, yes, but also wisdom, fortitude, love, and even humor. As one of the sons whispers to his fading father, remembering the father’s love of fishing: ‘Dad, it’s time to catch the big one’—so does Myrna Stone catch what it’s really like to deal with these tragic circumstances, and continues to show why poetry, and her poems, are absolutely necessary.
— Tim Suermondt, author of Josephine Baker Swimming Pool, The World Doesn’t Know You, and Just Beautiful