Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Wounded Angel (Hugo Simberg), Sonnet #316

We found her nearly conscious under the willow,
Her wings so wet she must have come from the river.
We ripped a strip from her gown's hem and wrapped her brow.
A gash meant to us someone could not forgive her.
We dared not wipe the blood from her broken pinions,
Afraid that it might make us bleed or break our hands.
We remembered stories about the Lord's minions --
How their feathers had beaten mountains into sands.
Our minds blazed awe. She whispered, "No superstitions."
We cut two branches from an ash and made a chair
To carry her. She rose and sat, like light, like air.
She clutched five snowdrops we had taken from her hair.
We asked her how we should go. She pointed
At the river. "There," she said, "We are anointed."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bond of Union (Escher), Sonnet #315

For Ruth

They say that only gravity can make an orb,
That when two pliable objects come together,
An attracting force at their centers will absorb
All imbalance, all turbulence, wind and weather,
And even out the distance from center to rim
To form a satisfying equilibrium.
The loves of men and women are beribboned air,
Much that's empty and much almost decorated.
It's up to each to seek the beautiful and fair,
To smile, to look past the moment, sad or sated
(Though we'd wrestle the sun if it would hold the day!),
When the moment is over and has rolled away.
My love, our ribbons tighten and, like gravity,
Have made a single perfectly round you and me.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Stonehenge, Sonnet #314

Perhaps they never finished it.
The stones wouldn't stay put or fit.
The builders grew weary and quit.
Their act of faith was a battle
With a terrible mystery,
The unseen evil, gravity. 
The lifting high of each lintel,
Unsure of a secure seating,
Might have seemed a self-defeating
Act, simply in the repeating.
When we exhausted stone-layers
Fail, do we resort to prayer,
Or abject, wild ululation
In praise of our liberation.  

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Alchymist (Joseph Wright), Sonnet #313

As we turn gold into lead each day,
Alchemists of humors, vapors, and clay --
As we dip our hot dreams into dry ice,
Shocked when our dragons turn out to be mice --
The Lords of Change drift in unseemly sleep,
Snore so loudly we dare not make a peep.
Know who you are, you philosopher's stones,
Elixirless lives and pilotless drones,
You false promisers, prophets of the cloud,
Your cant can't and decants only the loud.
Take but little sips from your retort flask,
And try never to answer, only ask.
You base metals, here's your Magnum Opus --
Rust dust in our eyes, your hocus pocus.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Death and the Miser (Bosch), Sonnet #312

There is one bastard that Death doesn't want --
A man He's content to smilingly haunt,
To gesture that He hasn't forgotten
What comes. "Maybe when your mind's most rotten,"
He whispers from behind the sickroom door.
The man, a murdering conquistador,
And raper of the widows of the poor,
Cut a priest's throat to settle an old score,
And sold babies to feed the king's prize boar.
Delectable crimes for Death -- no reason
Not to take this human in his season.
His disgust was with the miser's grasping
Love of His own hot and eternal sting,
Leaving death for no other living thing.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Spider, Butterfly and Sun (Burchfield), Sonnet #311

No spider ever trapped a butterfly
With joy. Their tasteless wings are a nuisance,
And, thrashing, rip up and clutter his threads.
They take the turning of the earth to die.
The thorax he sucks isn't sustenance,
Not like a caterpillar's juicy breads.
He labors to disentangle the shreds,
Fling them to the wind and throw new weave;
Thus, sun to sun, he can't stay still, deceive
New prey, who run from the trembling web.
He damns the Monarch as his powers ebb.
At last, his lair is ready to receive.
That night a stumbling, great green luna moth
Destroys it with wings of savorless cloth.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Colorful Lightning (Klee), Sonnet #310

The master can show the moon in a storm
If he chooses to -- the answer is why?
Too simple to think for the sake of form,
The willful undermining of the norm.
It's his, this stylus-petted, stepped-down sky.
There's not one cloud. The scarred night air is dry.
Standing outside his miniatures, we stare
At what we can't be sure he meant to share.
One summer, I stood on a factory roof
And watched heat lighting crack the night apart.
The moon penetrated the hazy air
Just once, a blind man, stupid and aloof,
Hardly a subject for a work of art.
The whistle blew and I went down the stairs.