Monday, October 27, 2014

Ghost (Kawanabe Kyosai), Sonnet #210


































Ghosts are the necessary dead.
Without them we'd take for granted
The world we ourselves have haunted.
Not all must chew the hairy head
Of a witch or maculate bone
Of a disenchanted loved one.
Some lie sleeping, tossing, mumbling
At moonlight flooding the bedroom.
Or whisper in our sleep humbling
Past actions that no longer loom
In memory, since they've taken
Their shape before we awaken.
They walk with us during the day as well,
Kiss our lips, take our hands, guide us to Hell.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Out of Doors, Sonnets #208 and #209






















Argiope Spider (Judy Keown), Sonnet #209

Each day I walk on ground prepared for me
By ceaseless settling of stone and soil,
Or the pouring of asphalt and concrete.
The orb weaver shuttles from tree to tree
On the evanescence of his own toil,
The sculpting of air he'll never complete.
His hunger (his world is a deception)
Must war with his desire for perfection,
As each creature he catches and devours
Rips apart and tangles the work of hours.
Some unseeing oaf like me will blunder
Into the trap and tear his world apart.
As I stumble off (my neck stings!), he'll start
To rebuild: one thread out, one thread under....

Thanks to Judy Keown for permission to write about and
post her wonderful photograph. Click here to see more
of her work:  Judy Keown



















Autumn Evening (Ferdinand Hodler), Sonnet #208

There's nothing there we haven't seen before,
But not so many times we can afford
To hustle past. Let's promise each other --
Never commit the sin of being bored.
Besides, so much has changed in just a year.
The sun-rustled air seems even clearer.
The pattern of the leaves left in the trees
(Yes, the postcard days ended yesterday),
Suggests paragraphs full of ideas,
Things we think but never think to say.
The colors play the least part of the scene,
And we must grant each leaf its final bow.
If we could stay to watch the last careen
To the ground, we might settle then at Now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Absinthe (Degas), Sonnet #207






















They say water poured in the absinthe glass
Awakens sin in the spirit, the green,
Distilled from anise, fennel, and wormwood,
Goes ghostly white; as though in some dim mass,
A transubstantiation into spleen,
Obliviousness of evil or good.
Elle has barely sipped her drink; already,
She feels her queasy stomach growing hot,
Her arms and legs loosening, unsteady,
Her soul becoming something it is not.
The cafe, full of smoke and stupid talk,
Will soon go soft, muffled, and disappear,
Like the one gone and the one almost here.
"I'll find you," she sighs, "if I can still walk."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Two Childhood Memories, Sonnets #205 and #206

















Iguana (Alice Guerin), Sonnet #206

Clark Air Force Base, Philippine Islands, 1960

Iguanas in the mango tree behind our house
Knocked down rotted fruit (smell of sweet dead mouse),
The sickened pulp caught in a blackened baseball glove.
The hope was to catch one still firm and ripe enough,
To save it from rupturing, to bite through its tough
Skin and suck warm pulp, while the lizards above
Threw at us more and more than we could hope to catch.
The Philippine iguana caught would bite and scratch,
Its venom put you in the emergency room.
We were taught never to climb the trees or crawl
Beneath the house where a cobra's hood might bloom.
It was a kind of Paradise, after the Fall.
In a typhoon, Mt. Pinatubo erupted
And buried our home, leaving it uncorrupted.

















117 Sr. Officers Row (Harry Hargraves), Sonnet #205


Warren Air Force Base, 1958

The antelope never came near
The house we lived in for six years.
At five, of many things to fear
Was a neighbor my age, Wendy.
Little witch, she often bit me,
Drawing blood, until her mother
Bit her shoulder even harder.
Gorillas lived beneath the house.
I tumbled down the dark backstairs.
A brother flushed down our white mouse.
The garage stank of butchered bears.
I wasn't taught, so didn't learn:
I struck two matches, watched them burn
My fingers, tossed them on a chair,
Soon thrown out in the winter air.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Isaac Newton (William Blake), Sonnet #204


















The rational and materialistic mind,
For Blake, is embedded in a muscled body,
A perfect machine such men will never construct.
Newton leans over to finger a scroll he's lined
With a triangle, a mental commodity
From which any semblance of nature has been struck.
His left hand holds calipers, measuring the line
His right forefinger traces; it's a god's design.
Men are the only gods he knows, because they think,
And thinking, as we all know, is what gods create.
He sits on algae-covered rock, ignores the stink.
Engrossed, he cannot remember when he last ate.
There's so much more to understand than gravity;
The apple fallen long ago eaten at tea.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Cecropia (Alice Bea Guerin), Sonnet #203

















This drawing (though freehand) isn't its symmetry,
Or the choice of Butterfly Bush or Rosemary,
Bleeding Hearts, Lily of the Valley, Lavender,
Or (seeming an afterthought) the signature bee.
"Cecropia," in its perfect detail, renders
What my daughter Alice, over weeks, remembers.
In cafes, on a bunk bed by Lake Tekapo,
She draws, on the far side of the world, a momento
For her mother, tapping all her creative will,
Love, intelligence, and her finest-tipped pencil.
Look closely. She captures mottled dust on each wing,
And a consciousness in the Cecropia's eyes.
Feelers tremble at the assault of everything
In the air, and if we should look away, it flies.

Please click on the image to see a much larger and detailed version.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Physiognomical Lightning (Klee), Sonnet #202






















I met a man with lightning in his eyes,
A jagged scar on his nose and forehead,
Old acne pits on his fat cheeks the size
And color of old pennies, and he said,
"My name is Resentment; Sir God to you.
Do not speak or presume to ask questions.
I've something to say, though I'm no guru:
The time has come, the next second beckons."
He paused and a light split open his brow.
"Happens all the time," he said, "Do not bow.
I'm not that kind. A lesser deity,
I want neither piety or pity."
His face mended with a smile, then he left,
Leaving me with a forehead hot and cleft.