Posts Tagged ‘sonnet’




I want to hear the green song in the veins of the leaves,

the dark song of soil as it warms in the midsummer sun.

I want to learn the low ballad of beets as they swell,

the racy soprano of strawberries flirty and sweet,

the slow bass of the lonesome potatoes as they fill out their lumps.

How have I not harmonized with the thrust of sunflowers?

How have I missed the chive chorus? The verses of nasturtium?

The chanting of onions as they steep in their own minor key?

If there is a garden holler known by the garlic,

world, teach it to me. I want to hear the carrots

as they reach trustingly down, down, down.

I want to carry those midsummer songs in my bones

so when winter comes, and I forget how things grow,

though it’s quiet and cold, I’ll remember, I’ll remember.

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I’m tired of wishing longing’s hold would soften,
tired, I’m tired of wishing I could steer.
Though what’s the use in steering when so often
after steering wishward, I’m still here,
yes, here again, same face, same empty pocket,
same despair. But not hysterical—
too tired to rail. Exhaustion’s tourniquet
is good for that, at least. No oracle
worth reading here. They never forecast what
I wish to see. No shaman, no, no priest
worth heeding. They just tell me I should cut
my wishing, and that’s never helped the least.
Of course I wish to shelf these wishes, shelf
the shelf. But everywhere I turn, myself.

This sonnet was inspired by an exercise I did yesterday on the plane on the way home … I saw my good friend Karen Glenn had suggested in her weekly poem email that we might want to write a sonnet with 14 line end words that she gave us … so I did!

You might want to do the same thing … just take the last words off each line and write your way into them. She had a poem about aging vampires … and mine turned out in another voice, too … funny to see what happens when certain words are given to you …

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Little Lie

Today it’s blessing fine enough I did
not fall and break my favorite crystal vase,
I did not choke, nor lose my daughter’s place
in her new chapter book. I didn’t trip
on fallen logs while running, did not flip
my car. I didn’t die, did not replace
my toothpaste with the Preparation H,
I didn’t drop a baby, didn’t slip.

And as for that sweet thing you didn’t say
that I had wished you might have said, it’s so
okay, that detail seems extremely small
amidst these other blessings of the day,
it’s no big deal you didn’t say it—no
big deal. I barely noticed it at all.

*If this looks familiar, it is … it’s an older poem I turned into a sonnet …

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In spite of everything, an odd delight
upsurges in the body, like a tide
that claims a rocky shore, or like a wide
and widening pool of morning light—
except it’s messier. It spills, despite
our thin attempts to hold its force inside.
It sloshes, splatters, overflows. It slides
and slips, it floods, upends, engulfs, unrights.

Oh fierce irrational joy! It doesn’t care
about the setting. Doesn’t care who sees.
It soaks us with its ecstasy, its strange
unruly grace. And then it’s gone. No prayer
or pretty please will make it stay. And we
are changed: yes, still ourselves, but rearranged.

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In the Black

Someday they’ll learn to levy tax on love.
At least fifteen percent, but likely more.
Say thirty-five percent. With guarantors
in case we can’t pay up. Of course the gov
would want its due. There’s never quite enough
of anything. For years they thought that war
could be the country’s answer, how it pours
in money, power, makes the people tough.

And then there’s love. In fact they’ll wonder why
it took them centuries to think of it.
For unlike currency, there is no end
to love. It’s infinite. So they’ll apply
a love tax, hug tax, wooing tax. Remit
away, my friend. Preserve the country: Spend.

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So much grace available, but how we receive it depends on what we can let go of.
—Joi Sharp

Inside the place where we are right, the rain
can never fall. Inside the place where we
are right, the leaves fall yellowed off the trees.
No breeze. No bells. No peaches. We explain.
We judge, contend, defend and claim, maintain
our certainty. And meanwhile, we don’t see
the lilacs wilting, grasses browning, bees
without their hives, lost crows, the sunset drained.

But sometimes in this shrinking cage of right
wings in a doubt. A question. Nothing’s clear.
And see how soon the crows return, a slight
of breeze, a scent of rain. I’ll meet you here,
this open place, exposed, unclosed. How light
spills in as our defenses disappear.

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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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Step One: locate a room, a lovely room,
perhaps with Persian rugs, the softest kind,
and pillows, lots of pillows. You will find
the silken ones feel best. And maybe blue
delphiniums, and pink hydrangeas, too.
Two glasses, one for water, one for wine.
Dark chocolates. Bach. And lots of books to line
the shelves, and pictures that your children drew.

Oh yes, a lock to fasten on the door,
a heavy one. You’re set. Step Two. Now pull
together all your thoughts about the needs
the self perceives, I’m sure that there are more.
Arrange the thoughts until they’re comfortable.
Forget them. Lock them. Lose the key. Step Three.

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What Isn’t Mine

a fifteen-minute sonnet on a title by Veronica Patterson

No not this day with all its sudden snow
and not the sunshine sliding through the white.
Not my children, though I call them mine
and feed them, drive them where they need to go.
My car? It’s in my husband’s name. My home?
The bank owns part of it. The words I write?
I steal from all my heroes. My delight?
I learned it from my mother. There is no
computer, cell phone, cookbook, shirt or cat
that I can point to and say I own that—
for anything I think is mine can steal
away like snow in sun or autumn leaves
in trees. The less I hold the more I feel
whatever owns the trees is living me.

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