Thursday, November 20, 2014

Memory (The Heart) - Frida Kahlo, Sonnet #213

Every memory comes to us incomplete,
A comet disintegrating as it passes,
An empty sailboat washing ashore at our feet
(Or perhaps we've simply forgotten our glasses).
But say this memory is like her heart removed
And left to beat out its blood on the beach,
The scarred remnant of one once much beloved
She had gladly exchanged for her own, each for each.
Now she has become a memory with a hole
In her breast, pierced by an arrow, vaneless, headless,
Her arms in the sleeves of other women's dresses,
Her white skirt all that's left of her immortal soul.
A woman once replete now completely empty --
Forgotten blood runs to the mountains and the sea.

Click on the image to see a larger version.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Equals Infinity (Klee), Sonnet #212

Nothing equals infinity,
And that, yes, and that, all that crap,
Just a damned ambiguity
And metaphysical trap.

Infinite the galaxies.
Infinite the grains of sand.
Infinite the gaseous seas.
Infinity we understand.

Nothing we can't contemplate,
Because nothing has no equal.
There's no infinity so great
Or timeless, nor a thing so small,

Except, my eye on a migrating bird
At the feeder, there, equally absurd.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Le Salut (Delvaux), Sonnet #211

The ball and pyramid finials rhyme
With the snow-topped volcano far away.
The streetcar has arrived almost on time.
Its one rider escapes into dark woods.
A gent tips his bowler, as if to say,
To his muse, "Thanks for a peek at the goods."
She raises her left hand to draw him near;
Does she desire to stroke or slap his cheek?
Great muses are naturally unclear
In their gestures. Is it art or love they seek?
In each window on the street a model
Poses for any artist to ogle,
But there's no one else but the gallant gent,
Whose inspiration is already spent.

I've walked this street for so many years.
Always the windows are unoccupied,
And where the robe-draped muse stood beckoning
To others, turning blind men into seers,
I find broken flagstones some mole has pried
From below, and a tired old man, yawning.
I've heard the volcano grumbling, hissing,
And from somewhere padding of unshod feet,
Seen the gent's bowler rolling down the street,
And asked myself, "Is it me that's missing?"
The streetcar is late. Now I understand!
I run and reach it as it comes to rest.
The rider, a child, offers me her hand
And leads me away, into the forest.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ghost (Kawanabe Kyosai), Sonnet #210

Ghosts are the necessary dead.
Without them we'd take for granted
The world we ourselves have haunted.
Not all must chew the hairy head
Of a witch or maculate bone
Of a disenchanted loved one.
Some lie sleeping, tossing, mumbling
At moonlight flooding the bedroom.
Or whisper in our sleep humbling
Past actions that no longer loom
In memory, since they've taken
Their shape before we awaken.
They walk with us during the day as well,
Kiss our lips, take our hands, guide us to Hell.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Out of Doors, Sonnets #208 and #209

Argiope Spider (Judy Keown), Sonnet #209

Each day I walk on ground prepared for me
By ceaseless settling of stone and soil,
Or the pouring of asphalt and concrete.
The orb weaver shuttles from tree to tree
On the evanescence of his own toil,
The sculpting of air he'll never complete.
His hunger (his world is a deception)
Must war with his desire for perfection,
As each creature he catches and devours
Rips apart and tangles the work of hours.
Some unseeing oaf like me will blunder
Into the trap and tear his world apart.
As I stumble off (my neck stings!), he'll start
To rebuild: one thread out, one thread under....

Thanks to Judy Keown for permission to write about and
post her wonderful photograph. Click here to see more
of her work:  Judy Keown

Autumn Evening (Ferdinand Hodler), Sonnet #208

There's nothing there we haven't seen before,
But not so many times we can afford
To hustle past. Let's promise each other --
Never commit the sin of being bored.
Besides, so much has changed in just a year.
The sun-rustled air seems even clearer.
The pattern of the leaves left in the trees
(Yes, the postcard days ended yesterday),
Suggests paragraphs full of ideas,
Things we think but never think to say.
The colors play the least part of the scene,
And we must grant each leaf its final bow.
If we could stay to watch the last careen
To the ground, we might settle then at Now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Absinthe (Degas), Sonnet #207

They say water poured in the absinthe glass
Awakens sin in the spirit, the green,
Distilled from anise, fennel, and wormwood,
Goes ghostly white; as though in some dim mass,
A transubstantiation into spleen,
Obliviousness of evil or good.
Elle has barely sipped her drink; already,
She feels her queasy stomach growing hot,
Her arms and legs loosening, unsteady,
Her soul becoming something it is not.
The cafe, full of smoke and stupid talk,
Will soon go soft, muffled, and disappear,
Like the one gone and the one almost here.
"I'll find you," she sighs, "if I can still walk."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Two Childhood Memories, Sonnets #205 and #206

Iguana (Alice Guerin), Sonnet #206

Clark Air Force Base, Philippine Islands, 1960

Iguanas in the mango tree behind our house
Knocked down rotted fruit (smell of sweet dead mouse),
The sickened pulp caught in a blackened baseball glove.
The hope was to catch one still firm and ripe enough,
To save it from rupturing, to bite through its tough
Skin and suck warm pulp, while the lizards above
Threw at us more and more than we could hope to catch.
The Philippine iguana caught would bite and scratch,
Its venom put you in the emergency room.
We were taught never to climb the trees or crawl
Beneath the house where a cobra's hood might bloom.
It was a kind of Paradise, after the Fall.
In a typhoon, Mt. Pinatubo erupted
And buried our home, leaving it uncorrupted.

117 Sr. Officers Row (Harry Hargraves), Sonnet #205

Warren Air Force Base, 1958

The antelope never came near
The house we lived in for six years.
At five, of many things to fear
Was a neighbor my age, Wendy.
Little witch, she often bit me,
Drawing blood, until her mother
Bit her shoulder even harder.
Gorillas lived beneath the house.
I tumbled down the dark backstairs.
A brother flushed down our white mouse.
The garage stank of butchered bears.
I wasn't taught, so didn't learn:
I struck two matches, watched them burn
My fingers, tossed them on a chair,
Soon thrown out in the winter air.