Posts Tagged ‘blank verse’


A response of sorts to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18



Not that I wasn’t fond of it—the blues

and golds and thick brush strokes—perhaps it was

because I was so fond of it I threw

the art away, that life-size portrait of

eternal summer, mine, the painting in

which one hand reaches for the sun, the other

grows dark roots into the earth. Now all

that lives of those bright lines are these two hands

that painted them. With something less than care

I rolled the canvas tight and took it to

the trash, the company of grapefruit rinds

and last year’s mail. By tea, I’ve gotten used

to how the wall looks—empty, open, free—

already dreamed what else these hands might do.

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X marks each spot where I would like to kiss
you, dear. That’s why this map is full of them,
though I will never show this map to you.
I’m too afraid to tell you how I really
feel, so in each letter I have written
you, I’ve hidden xs somewhere, secret
kisses veiled in talk of other things.
For instance, when I wrote to you about
the xenops on the branch outside our house—
ridiculous, of course. Those birds are native
to the tropics. Or the time I wrote
about the mile-long xylophone? There was
no xylophone. Just one more buried kiss.
I got no x-rays of my hip, nor did
I spot a Xiphias gladius on a deep
sea fishing trip—those swordfish are elusive.
That is why there’s talk of chromosomes
in all my letters, x most frequently.
I know it’s silly. Hiding all these kisses
in these letters to you, none of which
I’ve ever sent. I keep them in this box
beside the map, then hide the box beneath
my bed. And this confession goes there, too,
sealed with a kiss I’d rather give to you.

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I know you’re kinda mad I’m late. I’m sorry,
but you see there was this tiger trapped
up high inside a tree who offered me
a cherry tart if only I would help
him down. What could I do? It just did not
seem right to leave him stranded there. And so
I asked a large tarantula to weave
a silken net to catch the tiger when
he leapt. Well, she was tired from having laid
nine hundred eggs the day before, but when
she heard about the tart, she said she’d try.
A tern and toucan flying by said they
would help me hold the net to catch the tiger
when she leapt. What luck! I didn’t know
they lived around here. Anyway, a toad
in a tiara started teasing them.
He said our plan would never work, that birds
would not be strong enough to catch a tiger.
That’s when the triceratops came rambling
by and said he’d help us, too. But he
began to sneeze, his allergies were acting
up, perhaps it was the tulips? Or
the toadstool? I don’t know. The bummer was
he sneezed so much he had to go. The toucan
and the tern, offended by the toad,
flew off. They said, “A tart is not enough
for this abuse!” So there I sat beneath
the tiger, not sure what to do. That’s when
a turtle sat beside me and suggested
we could use his thimble as a diving
pool. The tiger had his doubts until
he saw a trout tail swish inside the thimble.
And he dove! And landed with a splash!
And came up with the trout between his teeth!
The bad news is he left the tart up in
the tree. And then the grumpy toad began
to throw tomatoes at the turtle. And
at me! And so I ran the whole way home.
I don’t know where the tiger’s gone—he mentioned
wanting to audition for a band.
He said he plays the triangle. It’s weird,
I know. So weird I worried that you’d not
believe me. I thought maybe I should lie
and tell you that I’m late because I didn’t
want to leave my friend’s house in the middle
of our game. But lying is so rude.
I knew that you’d appreciate the truth.

*This is a T poem for Lian Canty’s Alphabet Menagerie, http://www.alphabetmenagerie.com

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Truth and Dare

a D-poem for Lian Canty’s Alphabet Menagerie

I dare you on an early springtime morn
to ask the daffodil what it remembers
of December. Ask the dragonfly
what it was like to live before the age
of dinosaurs. Go ask the dandelion
how it feels to be despised, and what
it’s like to lose your seeds like wishes—every
single one. Then ask the deer about
the reasons it wore spots when it was young.
The dogwood, ask its blossoms about frost.
The donut, ask it what it knows of holes.
The drum, invite it in for tea to tell
you of the skin it wears and other lives
it’s breathed. Then ask the duck if it recalls
the time the young swan came to live amongst
the ducklings. There is always something more
to every story than we see, yes, something
more than this and that, a hidden door
through which truths pass as silently as lies—
though sometimes truths bounce back like echoes. Ask
the dolphins how that works, how if you sing
the world sings back to you. I dare you, sing
your questions to the world. Perhaps you’ll hear
whatever answers you had wanted, but
more likely you’ll hear answers that will make
your heart break open wider than before—
those are the answers I am hoping for.

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I am not fit to tend that garden yet.
Though I walk by it every day. Though it
is on my property. Though there’s a thriving
patch of shoulds sprung up around the fence.

The gate is twined in bindweed, green and dense.
The rows are long-since overgrown with grass,
oregano gone viral, clover, spears
of mullein, dandelion rosettes. I’ve grown

familiar with neglect, at times forget
it’s mine to cultivate. But there it is.
Last week, I stepped inside the disarray,
took one long look at shamed disorder, tried

to see a place to start, and quickly left.
I am not ready for that garden yet.

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Lose something every day. —Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”

Strangely, I did not misplace my keys
today, nor did I lose my wallet, though
I often do. But I did lose each passing
hour, a whole day sloped its raffish way
into the doors of now. And is it loss
when I recall the crooked aspen trunks,
how shyly they entwined beside the road?
And is it loss, the berry’s red still clinging
like my red, red thoughts? The darkling sky
is darkling as it will. But dear Ms. Bishop,
I can feel how I am losing who
I thought I was—the glistered dross of self.
I cannot lose it fast enough, but that’s
not how it works. Slow surrender, slow
the letting go. See, my name still sticks.
And I still think it’s me that’s walking up
the river road beside the leafless willows.
Too much left of me, so as you say
I’ll practice losing something every day.

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I’m eating bread with Meredith out on
her porch, surrounded by the falling leaves,
when she tells me her mother can’t discern

what’s real and what is dream—she’ll wake and scraps
of REM sift into gaps between the day’s
routine. Today she says, “I’m in New York,”

and yesterday she said, “My father came
to visit. Everybody loves him here,
all my friends and all the nurses. Oh!

And he brought two enormous bags with him.”
She giggles to remember it. Sometimes
she says she’s gone out with old friends—“The food

was great, but I’m not going there again.”
Or maybe she has dreamt that Meredith
is hurt and needs her help. She’ll run into

the dark of four a.m. and call out for
her girl. And what is real? And what is dream?
And what is true between the two? Today

I read about a man who dreamt that he
was looking for an answer when a phone
kept ringing, ringing, ringing. He ignored

the phone and focused on the question. But
on the thirtieth ring he picked up the receiver—
the answer came to him across the phone.

What he had thought was a distraction was,
in fact, the point. I take another bite
of bread as Meredith tells me about

a class she took in how to listen to
her mother now. “I’m not supposed to argue,
not supposed to say she’s wrong. I go

along with everything she says.” I think
how strange to let go of reality
to meet her mother where she is, though it’s

not strange at all. What is the point? To meet
her mother where she is. To follow her
between the worlds. The wind blows harder now

and all around the picnic table, gold
and brown are dancing, spinning. I recall
how just this morning I was dreaming that

I, too, was spinning, spinning, spinning, spinning.

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