Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Triamphibiangle (David Birkey), Sonnet #218

The leopard, the tiger, and the lion frog
Have been the silent, devoted sentries
Of the last point-balanced triangle log
Longer than the countable centuries.
We might prefer to call the log a tree
As there is certainly a symmetry
To the branches, which do leaf out each spring;
Like faded memories, they quickly fall,
The last shudders of a nearly dead thing.
The frogs believe the balancing is all.
They live, first small, in the perilous gap
Beneath shorn bark that drips a mist of sap,
Then, grown, they form a protective cordon,
To wait and watch for any threat from men.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Scream (Munch), Sonnet #217

Let's clap our hands for Mr. Scream,
Who can't awaken from his dream,
Who can't tell things that are from seem.
He's lost his former self-esteem
And stops his ears from blowing steam.
Perhaps the consultative team
He works with has begun to scheme
To discredit, tarnish the beam
Of his reputation's buffed gleam.
Maybe a woman of extreme
Cruelty and beauty poured a stream
Of contempt on him like soured cream.
Who once in his world reigned supreme,
Has now become a risible meme.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Two Tales, Sonnets #215 and #216

Sleeping Beauty (Viktor Vasnetsov), Sonnet #216

For Irina Velitskaya

Even the family brown bear
Joined the princess in endless sleep
In the embrambled castle keep.
The prince found her pale, cold, but fair,
And released her, her retinue,
From endless dreams to nothing new.
A wedding and two babes conceived
Enraged the prince's ogress queen,
Who ordered them served up in sauce,
Though she was easily deceived,
With hind and lamb in a tureen,
By the cook, who hated his boss.
She died in a barrel of snakes.
Each day the sleeping beauty wakes.

We've all been asleep for 100 years,
So, when we wake, vigorously alive,
As the creeping armies of night arrive,
We will wash them out to sea with our fears.
The cannibals will have themselves to eat.
The king and queen will summon a piper
To drive away the thorn and the viper,
But hear only their own hearts cease to beat.
What we will make of our new universe
Depends (like the fine point of a spindle)
On how tiny, sharp our hearts will dwindle.
Will we invite a new, more evil curse?
Sleep on, nothing will happen while we do.
The prince's kiss has changed into a moue.

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Frontispiece from Visions of the Daughters of Albion (Blake), Sonnet #215

The rapist and his victim chained,
The lover, his anguish burning
Hottest where his tears had rained,
On pale cheeks, twisted lips: yearning
For her touch is all that remained.
The rape forged its own manacles,
The woman's shame and the man's fear,
(He finds, wherever he looks, a mirror).
She's no longer a miracle
Of virgin grace and purity.
The rapist is a stupid beast
She can neither hate nor pity.
The sun breaks through clouds to the east,
And melts the chains. The lovers kiss.
The third drowns himself with a hiss.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ruth and Christopher Guerin (November 27, 1977), Sonnet #214

Still my love, of 41 years, still mine,
You are both a truth and beauty of time.
A blizzard, as this picture was taken,
Danced up the town, as if to awaken
With skeins and wild cascades of wind and white
A lazy prematurely sleeping night,
As you, in our marrying, ignited
A new soul in me, the old one blighted.
After we kissed and I stepped on the glass,
Our eyes met and said our own private mass.
The beauty in this picture speaks to me
Every day, with word, gesture, mystery
Unspoken, not unheard. I answer, so:
We still love. That is all we need to know.

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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.

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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.