Sonnet #249

The skin of snakes resembles corpses eaten hollow

Upon this open grass, I wonder why she chose to shed

Where no shelter from the sky is, nothing’s hid

She broke the scales, and peeled herself anew

Abandoned this particolored cape and pushed afield

On open ground, a busy road, hawks in all seasons

Wild dogs run in the twilight, filthy and mean

The coyotes sneak in, too: in darkness all reveals

The skin of snakes betrays the snakes, extends

Their territories, shining brighter than scat

A dazzling display upon the grass, a jeweled end

A brazen scent for the sniffers, a warning to cats

and all creatures, rattlesnakes roam this bend

Devour themselves hollow, from the inside-out

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Sonnet #248

Cicada songs of summer, come to me,
Where life drones on despite the heat
I watch a tiny insect sing above a street
In evening twilight, starlight breaking free
A galaxy around us, an infinite expanse
And this precarious insect’s tiny love song
He was born in soil, died in soil, rose strong
from death to sing of life and to dance
Behind them always death, the shells,
a life in transformations come; how
weak we were, we ring our churchbells
Fall in water, say we’re transformed now
And transformed again as our husks all fell
We sing among the stars, someday: we know.

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Sonnet #247

I will fail again, I know this, so will you,

We’ll fail at what’s important and what we need

We’ll fail also at what matters little, and we’ll bleed

for those tiny things. We’ll fail, and fail, and be blue

I nearly killed three birds: I thought their nest

was empty in the attic vent, it was not, and their

faint chirps for two days felt like echoes, there

where so many birdsongs echo, until they pressed

against the new metal screen, sad and desperate

Fledglings ready to fly, but trapped, they had hid

While we had reached into the corners, nest despots

Yanking all the down and straw away. We did.

We did. We monsters stapled metal, and it’s hot

I failed the birds. I cut them free. I hope they live.

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Sonnet #246

I heard some word that God won’t give

a weight to you that you can’t carry;

I don’t believe it. With crap like this, be wary –

It’s the thing that people say who give

A little more weight, a little more

Just one more piece, until the straw

Is made of heavy iron and they hem and haw

at you, blame you for your pain and sores;

A camel can’t pass through the eye of a needle

Unless its crushed under the weight of god –

He smashes you down, with help from the Beadle

to smash you down more, more weight, more rod

cracked hard upon His errant child, God will wheedle

You can carry what I give. I know better. Be awed.

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Sonnet #245

We call it a moment but it is all movement

We are always dancing to a song we might not hear

Of storms blowing through, of leaves curling up

Of insects cracking through their own shells

We call it a moment, this picture of movement

Held Still, smile for the camera, if you can hear

The click of light remembering how we lift up

And lift each other up get fat get thin – the shell

Of us is always changing, we are in movement

Pass between each others’ hands and listen, hear

The way we sing for each other as we speak up

At a cosmic sky we point our children to the shell

Of earth and sky and claim dominion here as if a moment

As if a permanent domain, but we are in movement

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Sonnet #243

“What was my face before I was born?”
My galaxy was neither born nor is it done
Swirling into some final dance of bright suns
Still, considering how these things are worn
At some point, yes, my galaxy was born
To answer the question, and think of the truth
A poppy seed, once, was stuck in a tooth
Inside the seed was everything, everything! Torn
Burst, busted, blown up, kablooey; Before this
My galaxy’s face was a pressure plate
A condensed kineticism smashed into a hiss
But before this? Before this? Can I make
any sense of what was born before this?
And before that? Before all my shiver and quake?

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Faith is a Fine Invention

We talk of god the way we talk of godfathers
I sinned against Your amorphous will
It’s my fault.
Really,
I am lucky and grateful You only hurt me to here
And decided against what I deserve
How kind You are to hurt me
To correct what You would deem unworthy

And the interest rate builds up
The points on this loan of life

We talk as if grace is a mercy upon the unworthy

If faith is a burning flame
If faith finds us in our hollow places
If faith cannot be negotiated or moved
If faith can be the one that moves

The icon of negotiation, of points accumulated
Of angels with their protection racket over prayers

Perhaps God walks like a devil, dresses sharp, takes payment weekly to protect
In prayers and papers

Or perhaps we speak the devils work upon ourselves
And call it heavens’ kings

Instead consider fire in a hollow place
The light will fill us up
The shadows on the walls are just the shape
Of us.

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Sonnet #244

Alas the money runs away along the path

Where clever men set snares for money
And wicked men will club and take in wrath
And we all need the money, chase the money
We must follow and shout and grab
Money is a misty ghost with eight long legs
It moves like water through the labs
Where pipes arrange the faucets and plugs
But once upon the ground so swift
The money runs down hills and melts
Into the air itself, and seeps into the snowdrifts
We chase the money, grab for money, feeling felt
And dissipation auguries and screaming in the wind
Where did all the money run? We lost it all; money wins

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Sestina #2

1:

 

“Spring is the prize of the birds that survived,” cackled grackles

The pigeons have no language like theirs, they coo and scratch

the first worms, the first seeds, the firsts of all the things fallen down

“We remember when the world was only ever spring,” say sparrows

“When every day bloomed and rained and never rested.” They sing

And give the music to the mockingbirds, who will always shout from memory

 

2:

 

This is how the birds will know what to do, what’s in their shared memory:

(Except the clever pirate birds, the frigates and crows and rooks and grackles)

But the way to think is the repetition of thinking, so what birds sing

is what they know, and Spring, immortal, ebullient, where the scratch

comes up to breathe with full bellies after so long hollow, so many sparrow

hearts that couldn’t keep going, they fall but shared songs never go down

 

3:

 

“Once upon a time the world was always warm and wet,” sit down,

find a perch on the rock and listen to the music of collected memory

“Once upon a time, when the world was new, and so were the Sparrows

We flew in a forest as thick as an ocean, before winter, before the Grackle

Before the pigeon and possum and snake and cat, where every Scratch

upon the ground was a fat nut of insect or nut of the flowers, we sing, we sing

 

4:

 

“Trees of our memory, forest eternal, we learned to sing

By calling the way wind creaked and swelled until down

came the timbers and up came the cinders and scratch

all you like upon the burned ground, then cinders’ memory

haunt us forever with the great smoke’s ash echo. ” Laughter of grackle

Who listens beside this, wisest and wiliest, forgives all that’s sparrow

 

5:

 

“The simple foragers of this world, the tiny sparrow

amuses and confuses itself when it tries to sing,”

Life is a moment, after all, and all is a struggle for grackles

Ascribing a reason to misery is placing courage down

Fight, bite, and grapple, live each day with memory

of the survivor’s victory song, a hack laughter of scratch

 

6:

 

And the pigeons coo and dance while they scratch

the ground to live, waddle through the herd of sparrow

bob and weave and dance to coo of all their Memory

of Spring, oh, Spring! Oh, Love! Oh, Green! Oh, Sing!

The oldest dance is the dance of ecstasy, come down

beloved, and lie in this fair field… The grackles

 

Envoi:

 

tackle the discarded and departed in all seasons, the grackles

on the power lines when spring storms sweep hunker down

Mudwise, black-eyes, bitter warrior kings, laugh but never sing

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Sonnet #241

The absence of things is the greatness of things
The greatest war that ever was was never fought
The greatest fight that ever was was avoided
The greatest crime that ever was died in the mind that imagined it
The greatest poem ever written is a blank page
a single line moves down that page
Recreating this poem
requires
Only
I

 

 

 

 

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