Thursday, April 27, 2017

World Map (Hans Holbein The Younger), Sonnet #348

My mind was designed to click to the grid.
I could draw a floor plan of every home,
Each room I've lived in, etched as with acid.
The maps in my head make a heavy tome.
Some atavism shapes our love of maps --
An impulse to capture chaos in traps
Of paper and ink, odd shapes, twisting lines,
Repeat the world with approximate signs.
One old map shows an angel at each pole
Turning the earth, known by then to be round.
Monsters and sailing ships don't make a sound,
The land is mostly flat, the oceans roll,
The coordinate lines are tightly wound.
All is fixed and still as a sleeping soul.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

There Stood That Lonely, Gnarled, and Deciduous Tree (Sidney Sime), Sonnet #347

It was a tortuous climb to the top,
And how I will get down the stone-strewn path
In darkness is a mystery -- the slop
Of fear I'll swallow after the bird's wrath.
Her nest is above in a nameless tree,
Quite dead but strong and stout, more rock than wood,
Whose roots broke the summit into scree.
All shrieking, beaks agape, the white crane's brood
Insists on her absence if there's no food.
She doesn't see me as she goes; returning,
She claws my face and blinds me with a wing.
Plucking a star, she sets her nest burning.
The smoke floats down on me as the birds sing.
I am locked in an egg until morning.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Woman Reading (Matisse), Sonnet #346

The tea and scones not really appealing today,
She droops in her slip, her arm on the patterned arm
Of an old chair her vanished husband left behind.
Her volume of love poems is open to Millay;
What my lips have kissed has unnecessary charm.
The words are vague, as if not written, but signed,
Silent gestures of fingers churning the air,
When what she needs are his fingers clutching her hair.
She has sat like this for days, playing the statue,
Silencing time, since the night he didn't come home,
Leaving a note of four short words, the last one "you."
She found it in the bathroom under his black comb.
She clears the table, puts the dishes in the sink,
And spends the rest of the day failing not to think.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fishing for Souls (Adriaen Pietersz van de Venne), Sonnet #345

They came swimming in with the morning tide
After three days of storms unmoored our boats.
Somehow, they guided each hull back toward shore.
Like a school of fish two miles long and wide,
They moved as one, some submerged, some afloat,
Filling the bay with hope, a pleading corps.
We launched the boats and went fishing for souls.
Our bows bobbed clumsily through the dead shoals.
As we leaned to take their outstretched hands --
Beseeching yet so difficult to grip --
We found them quite impossible to ship,
Since each boat was already fully manned.
We saved a few but most soon went under.
A rainbow blessed the sea; then came thunder.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

February Wind and Sunlight -- The Wind Harp (Charles Burchfield), Sonnet # 344

This year no snow but wind and rain
Met and ended February,
Rivers overflowing again
And again, and blinding fury.
I'd walk each time the storms ended
To show I was not offended.
The sun lit thin ice in the trees
That sang in the wind -- melodies,
High-pitched, rung like spinning tin rings;
Twigs were fret and tuner-less strings.
In March the crocus and snowdrop
Bloomed early and as quickly froze
In day on day of silent snows
That only kind April could stop.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Star Travel (Matta), Sonnet #343

The speed of light is molasses
Dripping from an overturned jar,
A slowness nothing surpasses.
Not quite the songbird stuck in lime,
We can fly, but we can't fly far,
Unless we do away with time.
I stand on a comet of stone,
The tri-star Alpha Centauri
Irradiating, blinding me.
I'm here because I am alone
In no known age or century,
(Yet no metaphysical zone),
Where all is either late or soon.
I leave to catch a passing moon.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

On the seashore there are two visiting apples (Rene Magritte), Sonnet #342

Too late, the tree stump silences the ax
Under a root stepping down like a foot,
To render the blade motionless and moot.
Are the visiting apples ripe, you ask?
One wears a green, his bride a purple mask.
Are they real fruit or molded of old wax?
They totter on the sand inching nearer,
A mute duo smiling and curious,
Not quite what we see, perhaps spurious --
Nothing on the beach is any queerer.
Yes, a cupboard tree holds a waiting bell
And a new dollhouse with a bright red roof --
Articles no apple would buy or sell,
Only mourn, and doing so vanish -- poof!