Thursday, July 21, 2016

Anthropomorphic, Sonnet #307

I've read and seen for myself that seeing
The human face in inanimate things --
A pattern in a floor tile or the rings
In a calm pond disturbed by fish feeding --
Occurs most often and unlooked for when
One has suffered again and again.

An old woman, weeping, wrapped in a cloak,
Is agony inhabiting an oak.

I find myself wincing and suddenly
Distracted from pain by another me.
After years of recovery, faces
Appear when I'm tired and oblivious,
Staring, which my staring back erases,
Leaving the abnormally obvious.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

LOFT (Michael Antman), Sonnet #306

The loft will fall if the foundations rot.
The window frames are already bending.
The masonry, pitted by ageless soot,
Awaits the inevitable rending
Of every pillar and joist underneath --
The spitting of mortar like broken teeth.
Two pairs of women's shorts are on display,
But the lonely workman ignores the show.
Naked legs would only be in his way.
He turns the electric vacuum to blow.
Now he must wait for everything to dry.
He looks up for the first time, starts to cry.
He's sundered by a sweet paralysis.
It's beautiful, he thinks, not sure what is.

This is the third photo by my friend and editor
Michael Antman that I've written about. You can find his
considerable collection of photos at Instagram,
Or, if you're already on Instagram, his username
is michaelantman.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Le Pointe de la Heve at Low Tide (Monet), Sonnet #305

The moon pushing oceans around like that?
Like the wind stripping your head of your hat.
Something a quarter million miles away
Drains our inlets and beaches twice a day,
And pushes oceans out fifty feet higher
To leave rocky steps not dry, but drier.
We walk the muddy flats. Bulbous seaweed
Drapes rock like wigs, hiding crabs, and tide pools
Trap octopi and little fish who feed
Ravenously while the evening cools.
The seagulls plucked the stranded hours ago.
Exhaustion precedes the tide's inward flow.
All is waste and bare, a weak memory,
Soon to be drowned by weaker gravity.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tiger Lilies, Sonnet #304

For Ruth

They lined the country roads in Illinois.
Great banks of red-orange blossoms, green stems,
And pale pink tubes waiting to splay open --
Our courting flower, this remembered joy.
I drove those roads to see you most weekends
In the battered Mustang I had back then.
Fifty miles of lily-lined road before
I reached the highway, with fifty miles more,
Until I kissed your lips and took your hands,
And walked with you on Lake Michigan sands.
Now the lilies open every July
In our back yard, and up and down the street.
They are one answer to our loving's "why."
Their scent is faint, but unearthily sweet.

Note: The spelling of "unearthily" is not
strictly speaking correct; I'm combining
"earthy" with "unearthly."

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Morning News (Francis Luis Mora), Sonnet #303

The Times is meant to be crumpled in tight places,
Smudged, barely dry print, the yesterdays of faces.
What's done is done when read and forgotten,
And not until. A caveman looms, leers, teeth rotten,
One eye white, as if turned around in its socket,
The other reading about the latest rocket
Planned to reach the nearest star in a century.
He doesn't stir the slightest curiosity
In young women who can't smell him through their perfume.
The scent of ink is stronger. The stink of the tomb
Draws the caveman back into the metro pages,
Which he'll contemplate as his winey blood ages.
The bus slowly empties of papers and people.
A fallen Times lays gutters up like a steeple.

Note: Among other things, "gutter" is the word for the white
space in a newspaper between the print on the left side
and the print on the right side of the crease.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Fall of Icarus (Picasso), Sonnet #302

The sun is father to the father and the son.
Maze-minded Daedalus almost invented Earth;
If it was (and it had to be) born, his reason
Rolled it into a ball of life and roaring mirth.
He knew what was needed, met the exigencies
Of power over nature and control of fate,
The harnessing of the mind and how it foresees,
The imprisoning of evil, the murder of hate.
He must have been a loving father, or a fool,
To fashion wings for his son as well as himself.
We know, he warned the boy, that they were just a tool
To scratch the sky, not calipers to span the gulf
Between dirt and light. The heedless boy died too soon,
To his earth-glad father a stripped and distant moon.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Memory of a Bird (Klee), Sonnet #301

A bird's memory is the memory
Of the bird. We share the same history.
The still bittern stays the marsh grasses
I saw as grass until he flew away.
The starling murmuration amasses
Like ink perturbed in oil in a glass,
Until a red tail hawk blots out a stray.
The pileated woodpecker, the day
I stood in the river and watched him rip
Through a limb, saw nothing below my hip.
I wasn't man to him, and no concern,
Just one more thing he saw not to unlearn.
I feed the birds so they'll remember me,
Returning them my fading memory.