Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Sleeping Gypsy (Henri Rousseau), Sonnet #534


Each night the old gypsy

Gets a little tipsy.

He falls asleep and dreams

Of all that more than seems.

Beside him lays his oud,

Vibrating strings and wood,

His bottle of red wine — 

Essence of the Divine.

He tightly grips his cane

To bash away the rain,

Or bat the falling star,

Erasing its bright scar.

A lion, maybe real,

Could make of him a meal.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Gilles, or Pierrot (Jean-Antoine Watteau), Sonnet #533

Some of us never get past our stage fright.

I forget my lines, stand stiff and dumb,

Unable even to exit, stage right.

My ears roar with white noise, my tongue goes numb.

The sight of clustered eyes — the audience

With its expectations, its curt demands,

Its taut, arms-crossed, unforgiving silence —

Fills my head with endless ampersands.

Each remembered line is followed by “&.”

& then? & then? & like an hourglass,

I become empty of yet-to-fall sand —

& then come the billows of laughing gas,

Off stage, the director’s disgusted look,

A finger across his throat, then the hook.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Memory of the Garden at Etten (Ladies of Arles) (Van Gogh), Sonnet #532


Without it we can’t live in the moment.

Without its slowly grown paler shadows,

Without its insistence, its distractions,

Without its being what no one else knows,

Now would be indecipherable scent,

Bodies statuary of fixed actions,

A path a path no walker ever crossed,

A mother’s love forever nascent,

Immediacy soon forever lost.

The dead past animates the dead present.

Old women walk among the dianthus

As a young gardener with shears deadheads.

All apply a modest calculus

Of then and now among the flowerbeds.

My Human Disguise. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Impossible Chairs (Alice Bea Guerin), Sonnet #531

Possible chairs. Impossible chair.

Thought prints like graphite on white stone,

No less real than drawing on air.

(One is the only one unknown.)

The rocker can’t stop and will fall.

Not every three-legged stool stands.

The bentwood arm chair has no front.

The best words, written with an awl,

Are those that no-one understands,

Like this, an impossible stunt.

Don’t tell me these chairs are not real.

You might as well say pairs won’t peel,

That a compass can square the wheel,

Or that what is dead is ideal.

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

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Svetlana Reflects Herself in the Mirror (Karl Briullov), Sonnet #530

She sees. She sees. What does she see?
Searching, sad eyes? Defeated eyes?
I think she sees herself thinking.
It doesn’t have a property
Under lashes of dumb or wise.
It’s not a nothing nor a thing.
Two strings of pearls, two lines of thought
Only move when she concentrates,
Seeking for what cannot be sought,
What her mind only generates.
Before her reflection, her face
Is as thin as her bodice lace.
She turns away with no answer,
Twirls her body like a dancer.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Monk by the Sea (Caspar David Friedrich), Sonnet #529

The rock shelf doesn’t hold the sea
In place, thought the monk, rather say,
Water will accept a boundary
Because that is the given way.
He has learned little all these years;
How to eat, walk, but not to think,
But in the vanquishing of fears —
Little stones thrown in the sea sink.
He fears most the fog’s unwinding,
Like cloth from a bolt, the blinding,
When the sun’s lost sight of his eyes.
Then there's no telling fog from self.
He’s moveless till the wind rises.
A step might send him off the shelf.

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

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Lake Storm, Sonnet #528

On my birthday the storm rolls in
Off a roiling Lake Michigan.
Just out of the water my girls’
Hair stands on end from the static
Electricity; a cloud blurs.
An eagle flees on bursting air;
Its wingbeats seem prophetic
Of a sudden lightning bolt scare.
We’re in the house before the rain
And the thunder’s humbling pain.
The air is clear after an hour,
But such upset you don’t forget.
I’m a thunderstorm losing power,
Moving off for a clear sunset.

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