Thursday, February 23, 2017

Parade (Peter Blume), Sonnet #338

The invention of the assembly line,
The conveyor belt, the repetition
Of a single simple task by one man,
Produces all that is useful and fine.
Let me push the button of ignition
On armor as heavy as a tin can.
No bullet can penetrate my new skin,
Sleek and silver and exquisitely thin.
I'm so perfect now a parade of me
Runs past the smokestacks of the factory.
I'm joined by a smart, lock-loaded army;
As we march through every neighborhood,
Geese stepping, bright phalanx of right for good,
We stare down the decadent and smarmy.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Mobius Birds (Escher), Sonnet #337

With a wing-beat the cormorant
Is airborne, static, and distant.
As I am the threat he glides
To a dead limb and settles down,
And memory of me elides
In a croaking flock of his own.
Their migration looks like a race,
Ragged but with erratic grace;
The leaders constantly change place,
Not to draft others, but to chase.
They'll burst from their path to make way
For an Arctic tern or osprey,
Wheeling around until they find
The Mobius they've been assigned.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Army Men Attack, Sonnet #336

The military objective: to knock the chip
Off the mysterious stone's shoulder, then tip
The whole evil mass over and bury its white
And gaping, bespittled gob out of human sight.
The soldiers, rigid with fear and umbrageous rage,
Are all innocent, young, exactly the same age.
Their memories are identical, none recalls
How his father fought the same war with the same balls.
Though they are many (the stone is ageless and numb,
Impervious to thought, its nervous system dumb),
They're dry sticks waved over dry soil by a dowser,
When what's needed is a six inch field howitzer.
They break against the stone, bounce back, and charge --
Small men to prevail over what is merely large.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The High Council (Mabuse), Sonnet #335

The high council deliberates in me,
Thirty-one wise morons who can't agree
Without a nod from their presiding lord,
Who's typically obliviously bored.
The peasantry shout in at the windows,
The scholars and lawyers from the cheap seats.
The aides are soft and unprincipled cheats,
And women left the chambers long ago.
I think never has indecision been
So richly rewarded, as conscious sin
Is rationalized in the name of change.
A vote is taken, the benches arranged
Again to reflect the switch of leaders,
Which elevates sixteen bottom-feeders.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (Gauguin), Sonnet #334

A question is meant for the gods.
Only they are made to ask them.
We worry more about the odds
That a fruit will grow from a stem,
Not why, or how a child will grow
When his thoughts are halting and slow.
We know one another too well
And learn to love our loneliness.
The sun and stars our only dress,
We aren't shy, and eagerly tell
Stories that explain everything:
The reason for the spider's sting,
Why a dead man isn't jealous,
And asking is ridiculous.

Please click on the image to see a larger version.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sunrise After Brief Ice Storm, Sonnet #333

The world is made of casual captures:
A rising sun caught in branches and leaves,
Branches coated in quickly melting ice,
The mind held by momentary raptures,
Concatenating chains and nested sieves,
A seeking, grasping, imprisoned device.
The light and time is really all we own,
The owning like the ear processing tone
From cracked oboes to make it musical,
Its fading, if not quick, eventual.
I must capture myself in the ice tree,
Permit no release to fear or distraction
Or the sun will melt waking inaction,
And in my next moment let darkness free.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Plow and Harrow (Van Gogh), Sonnet #332

The plow said to the harrow, "I am not like you.
I turn up and soften the soil and make it new."
The harrow said, "I teach the soil what to do.
It may be a hard lesson, but the soil must learn.
You signify nothing. You only churn and churn."
The plow replied, "It's not the soil, but the seed
That must concern us most, its future and its need."
The reply was furious, "You fluff its pillow,
While I obliterate its enemy, the weed!
The seed would sprout and choke if I didn't harrow
The earth, if I didn't do everything I must
To slash and bite and crush the filthy dirt to dust."
The plow and the harrow lie rusting in the field
And for decades there hasn't been a harvest yield.