Thursday, February 15, 2018

Little Owl (Durer), Sonnet #392

Encore! Let’s sing out with an “o” vowel!
I know of a man like a leetle owl,
Draped head to tail with a golden cowl.
They say he even has a golden bowel
He fills with gophers caught on the prowl.
A kingly bird, his perch a small dowel,
He clears out his cage with a dirty towel.
All that work’s left him with a flappy jowl,
His chirps sounding like a whispered growl.
He’s known to hate the consonant avowal
Unless it leads to a follower’s howl
Of pain or his latest conquest’s yowl
Of pleasure, though that tends to make him scowl.
You choose. As a fowl is he fair or foul?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Petroglyphs (D’Arcy Guerin Gue), Sonnet #391

The artist drew recollections of reality,
Monsters and tornadoes, dead sheep and flooded land;
Everywhere the teeth of electricity,
What he believed was the ravening of the damned.
His god’s head was a woman’s body with four arms.
What else could a god’s brain contain? He never drew
Her face or breasts and dared not imagine her charms,
But depicted his lord’s limbs broken and askew.
The animals he lived on always ran away
And his hungry children begged him in vain to stay.
Alone, at this wall of rock, he fought for his life,
A conqueror, he could not lose until he starved.
The brain of god might consent to become his wife!
He knew he blasphemed as he carved and carved and carved.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Pond (Sandy Ellarson), Sonnet #390

Yesterday, the snow made the world unsafe.
It’s not a friend to gravity or air.
Mixed with ice and wind it will cut and strafe
Until eyes bind and fields go bald and bare.
Today I throw my knees through knee deep drifts
And float my way down to Ellarson pond.
The ice has frozen deep — all buckled rifts.
Such cold can rend the molecular bond.
The spruce limbs sag and the long grasses break
And drop in multiples of N’s and M’s.
Only cattails bend with unbroken stems.
I recall Nemerov on the snowflake —
How can we know no two flakes are the same?
Being here, I can’t even know our name.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mont Sainte-Victoire and Chateau Noir (Paul Cezanne), Sonnet #389

I’ve lived at the foot of a mountain too,
Pike's Peak, golden palaces on its flank.
I’ve stood in snowstorms on its peak in June.
At dawn it hummed silver, at sunset blue.
A slight fog rubbed it to a hulking blank.
Full moonlight carved from it a single rune.
In time I started to ignore the peak.
I had no painter’s eye or possession
To look at it harder each day and seek
The thing I hadn’t yet seen — a vision.
Now I live near the continental divide
In the Midwest, where on a swamp’s one side
The water runs east, on the other, west.
I walk its trails often seeking a quest.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Might Not The Pupil Know More? (Goya), Sonnet #388

The young donkey, at his prayers,
Ignores his brothers, those brayers.
His missal is the alphabet,
Which he hasn’t quite mastered yet.
His master wields a paddle of wood
That stings him like a donkey fly
When he don’t learn his lessons good,
Like mistaking his “U” for “Y.”
“Might not the Pupil know more?”
Nickers Master, “Just his ‘as’s?’”
The brothers honk a mocking snore
And let a mephitic cloud pass.
The pupil thinks, They will be damned,
But first I need my cranium crammed.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Langlois Bridge at Arles (Van Gogh), Sonnet #387

In mourning, the pretty woman lifts her parasol.
Having once crossed the bridge each day with her dear one,
She thinks it a bitter joke on death and healing,
The bridge’s shuddering raise and trembling fall.
The river shivers to a walk — then starts to run,
Sends the boats bow up and down and keeling.
She has always hurried over the steel-shod planks
And never once stepped where the two halves meet.
She saw no beauty there, neither ancient or fleet,
Though for passage she would always whisper her thanks.
No more. She wishes the bridge would quickly unclose
And without looking down she’d step onto nothing,
The parasol filling with thick air and ripping,
Her dress a bloom around her face like a black rose.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

An Old Oak Tree Saved, Sonnet #386

For Sister Elise Kriss

When I saw the fence around the old oak,
I thanked the Sister for saving the tree.
“Yes,”she said, “we intend to make a park
Next to the college’s new library.
Someday the two of us will sit under
Its branches and have a nice little talk.”
But on my street city workers sunder
An entire elm grove to make a sidewalk.
I asked the foreman, was it necessary?
He wiped the sawdust from his balding head
And said, “Why the heck are you asking me?”
He had a point — by then the trees were dead.
I told Sister I wouldn’t forget us
Getting together. There’s much to discuss.