Thursday, July 12, 2018

Saguaro (Alice Guerin), Sonnet #413

My book of the first 200 of these sonnets is now available for purchase. Click here:
My Human Disguise.

He confronted his brother the cactus
After the decades since he’d seen him last.
Both had changed a little, both had amassed
Enough of themselves to say, “You’re still us.”
He pointed at the sand, the distant sun,
The spider, quail, snake, and the pygmy owl,
Almost extinct, and promised all to none.
He heard in the needles the faintest growl.
The saguaro pointed at the empty sky,
Its six hands fixed each on a different star,
As if to say the universe is dry
And begins and ends not here, but not far
Away, where the fires thrive, where cold hurls back
The flames. He left as the desert turned black.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Virtue Wagon (Paul Klee), Sonnet #412

My book of the first 200 of these sonnets is now available for purchase. Click here:
My Human Disguise.

The wagon was a hit in the Virtue Parade.
Men and women (we couldn’t tell apart) costumed
In various stages of address and undress,
Depicted what we all lust for and none evade —
The self-righteousness that cannot be self-consumed.
The wagon dragged an anchor; why?, we couldn’t guess.
We marveled how the actors laughed but couldn’t smile,
Flinging candied hearts to the crowd mile after mile.
They tasted sweet and dour like sugary chalk
And gave no joy to boy or girl of true virtue
(Each of us knew ourselves to be one of those few).
The wagon was now full of nudes — look at us gawk!
Underthings, pants, and dresses came showering down.
A bald man in the crowd donned a harlequin’s crown.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

River in the Plain (Cezanne), Sonnet #411

My book of the first 200 of these sonnets is now available for purchase. Click here:
My Human Disguise.

The river’s over its banks — four days’ rain
Draws from its pebbled bed a ruddy stain.
(My dreams flood like this and fill up my brain —
Hypnagogic between shores of the sane.)
I slowly wade downstream and a white crane
Flies over, followed by an entire skein —
They pass me by with a clacking disdain.
I know I should fish upstream but the pain
In my bad hip will ceaselessly complain
If I try to challenge the surging strain.
The river always divided the plain,
Low at times, or high, as now, it will drain,
But some level of water will remain.
It has a life and purpose to sustain.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

La Cigale, “The Grasshopper” (Joseph Lefebvre), Sonnet #410

My book of the first 200 of these sonnets
is now available for purchase. Click here:
My Human Disguise.

Fear most the things you’ve left undone. 
While you were singing to the sun
You lost your tunic in the field. 
You kicked off your only sandals. 
Your food was stolen by vandals
And no one shares the harvest yield. 
All resent your beauty, your ways,
Ignoring what anyone says. 
And even though you’re innocent 
You behave with a fool’s intent. 
Some almost wish you’d tempt their lust
And justify your being crushed. 
They will look to your starvation 
As their much deserved salvation.

Note: This beautiful work refers to Aesop’s fable of ‘The Grasshopper and the Ant.’ Painted following the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian war, it was considered an allegory of Napoleon III, who lead France to economic ruin. The painting depicts ‘The Grasshopper’ in autumn, realising the consequences of her careless frivolity.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Angel, Sonnet #409

Light is invisible until it hits
An object or penetrates the pupil.
No effort of intelligence or will
Can else know illumination’s spirits.
Real angels, it seems, are almost the same.
She can’t exist at all until I name
Her, with sounds I can’t think, and she appears,
The breeze from her wings allaying my fears.
She carries a small bouquet of flowers
And her raised right hand is empty, no sword
Or torch — hers are the powerless powers
I dare not test with even a whispered word.
Her wings buffet me — she rises to go.
I finally speak: “Stay.” Her smile says “no.”

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Olen Pond WWI Memorial (Frederick Hibbard), Sonnet #408

She was created in nineteen thirty.
Six decades later someone took her head.
The artist made it hard to take her arms.
The flowers she holds are “Uncertainty.”
She’s called “Memory” for the Great War dead,
Whom she salutes with her physical charms.
She stands in a park by a middle school,
The bad dream of each child — poet or fool.
My dear, I do not need to see your face,
Or know the name of who modeled for you,
To describe yours as intelligent grace —
You know all war dead are less right than true.
When new your limestone breasts were pure and bold —
Unlike you, stone flower, death won’t grow old.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Koi And Turtles (Hokusai), Sonnet #407

The Kishwaukee River was polluted
When he wandered its mud banks as a boy.
A gray iron foundry’s whistle tooted.
An ice cream company poured colored waste
On Thursdays to the carp and suckers’ joy,
Though peppermint didn’t seem to their taste.
In Japan they breed ornamental koi,
But here carp are held a pesty junk fish
And though his Dad smoked them — a tasteless dish.
He fished them because an eight pounder fought
With fury, gasping on the grass when caught.
He dragged in snapping turtles with stout line,
Chunks of bass. Dad axed their necks and made fine
Soup — until his fingers went from ten to nine.