Saturday, June 4, 2011

Four sonnets

For those who think these sonnets are an inferior expression of a venerated form, I sympathize with you. Formal poetry is not my strength. They do have their appeal, though, in as much as they force me to constrain my signature turn of mind ; let us use a musical analogy and say that I like these because they amount to me performing my old sicks over a new set of chords.
Sonnet 1
You turn your head, you cough  and recover,
 hand at your throat, the mike buzzes but not before
you shuffle your poems and read yet again, you go on in a room
where everyone has a first line, I would read about your eyes,
wide as they are as saucers cups that are deep as pans of bread
that come from the oven and into my heart, and that’s a start, I think,
you fold your hands as you read; you’ve got this memorized,
yet it all seems extemporized from the bottom of your heart  which hasn’t a bottom at all, now some one else reads, a guy with tattoo of his tongue across his left cheek, he  screeches to hip hop clicks of the tongue but he’s young and not far from done as long as his homies thrown their signs with fingers that cross a language of quieting the flutters of the immature heart, I will read you later, on the phone, with every court and hand gesture, you wave goodnight, I know the line,
you’ll see me in the funny papers.

Sonnet 2

Not this day nor that one but the one after all these, rather, 
when we come into town  with pockets full of matches
and cigarettes in a sock, we rock the nation with big beats 
in hock to no groove other than the tire tracks that
criss -cross the oceans on trade winds that carry notes  
like saints carrying a crucifix to the next thorny hill
under a sky that opens only for any spirit that slides 
up the ladder like plumes of smoke, we toke in gasps
 and get out of the car, unload, set up  amps, take up a collection 
for a room to split five ways, give or take the extra guitarist,
 a girl friend who snores, a nice place, we say, this world is ours, 
while over the bridge, in the other life where phone lines connect,
there are meals to eat before the meat gets cold, moms to kiss on the cheek,  
girl friends to lie to because we love them too much to be ourselves on a dare.


Sonnet 3

Extra candles at the table mean that there
will be more bread to butter, more sin to absorb

even as we see a motorcade and a pope in
a unbreakable box on the screen when

the first spoonful of hope is served from bowls
that a heat that escapes logic and cold fingers,

bless everything that gets in your way, says Dad,
do the sign of the cross and make the world tremble?

work your voodoo somewhere else, he hisses, hand me a roll and turn off the set.

The screen goes dark, millions of button-down faces
in crowds that line streets and make the stadiums sag

under the human pounds are gone in a small white dot against a dark green field,
and Dad smiles again, snapping his fingers,
and chews his bread with his eyes closed, face framed with kitchen lights and lacy steam.

Sonnet 4

A fevered dream gives up its dark corridors
and invites me to stare at the ceiling instead, 
with music of laughs and grunting keyboards
filling the dim sleepless niches that make up the sky 
that is now filled with circling birds, black and crying,
hypnotized by advertising about home loans and 
travel clubs to the farthest end of a Pacific Island where
there are no dull, all-night parties and robot music that 
grinds away at  unsmoothed nerves, I pick myself from
the bed, kiss your forehead, slip on my open toe sandals 
and sit at the edge of the bed, the edge of my wits,
the end of what feels like the earth Columbus 
must have feared all three of his ships would drift over
in a delirium born on a black, sleepless sea.

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