Sonnet #229

Who owns the poem and knows what it means —
Who writes the questions on the test —
Who chooses what is good and what is best —
And understands the truth inside the lean?
Oh star crossed letters, I do not know
Why ever would I stop to explain
When what I know is written plain
And never made much sense to me, so
Work it out upon a word, these little steps
Into the hills, walking round the mountains
Where the bird songs should be kept
And rainstorms come — Oh, star crossed mountains
Every step is lost and lost, inept
Others say what footprints planted claim

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Sonnet #228

At first, when we find life on other planets
We will ooh and aah and protect their wild
Better than we ever cherished our own child
This will not last, and then we will man it
This other world, we will choose to keep it kill
As it suits our plans, at first lip service to peace
the gingerly process of planting our flags and trees
Just a little, just to try, just to study, just this hill
For a while we will restrain ourselves
Then, in time, the lines between the worlds
Gets blurry, we take what’s there we sell
We push the wild into gardens, walled
Then wilderness of worlds will hurt each other
Where the escape of visitors spreads on either

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Sonnet #227

oh my pigeon heart where will you fly

When eggshell-colored skin cracks open bleeds
And shakes, and surgeons come for all they need
And my pigeon heart will leave me to die
And carry on a pulse in another’s chest
Will it be a monster or a man, will they love
One another as I have loved you, and move
Together when the dancing starts, try their best
Will the pigeon heart be soothed? And how long?
How many caverns can carry a heart, someday,
will organs pass down like a children’s song
Learned at cradles, returned to cradles to play
Another round, hearts passing down where wrongs
In air collect, but my pigeon heart is strong — it stays

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Sonnet #226

We are so careless with our wild and precious world

We live as if the size of us is endless horizons

As if there will always be another mountain

Another valley, another lake, new boys and girls

As joyful, as safe, as fulfilled and fulfilling

As if progress is measured by the gravity

of money, how it seems to magnetize more money

into heaping imaginary mountains unending

As if the imaginary mountain is greater than

The one that is blown apart, all waters polluted

We cannot eat the imaginary mountain

We cannot live beside these forests denuded

We cannot promise that there will be life again

So broadly this poem, beat it hard, prosecute it

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Sonnet #225

I took my prayers to the oldest tree
And blew them up into the branches bare
In some few weeks I hope they sprout in green
When seasons turn, but I know what grows is rare
The winter branches catch what ghosts they can
But most will drift into the clouds, and this is grey
All those low, bleak winter clouds, all plans
That have been lost, dreams that escaped this day
I took my prayers as well to Balcones Fault
Where the crevice in the rocks cuts deep
Old Gods inside the earth with wounds of salt
Will they accept what clouds will weep
All lost prayers become the green eventually
Just give it time, an earth, a sky, you’ll see.

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Ten Birds

Mary, Queen of Sorrows, came
To see my garden green
I showed Her all the flowers where
They dropped as frost cut clean

I showed Her all the fruit that fell
Where tumbled on the grass
And trampled earth in mud will stain
The boots of all who pass

We set a tea set in the field
And served Her as She pleased
We poured sweet earth washed watery
And sliced this pie of me

A crust of mud, a crackling kiln
A dry, sandblasted pie:
Limestone-pocked the filthy seal
we cracked to ten birds fly

A pigeon for my beating heart
Red cardinal for my soul
Two grackles there for my great fears
One is grey and one is gold

House sparrow for the work I’ve made
A mockingbird for anger
A scrub jay blue for all lost things
Dear chickadee for laughter

The titmouse for my courage
To be tiny takes the brave
Black vulture for the meat of me
No flesh is ever saved

Ten birds’ flight before the Queen
Each freedom chips at ivory
They scratched Her eyes and battered ears
And shattered statuary

We buried Mary, Holy Queen,
In a frostburned barrow
We hope someday She’ll rise again
When birds return to harrow

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Sonnet #223

Snow came when we weren’t ready for it

That night, I called her to the porch to look

Up, where the drifting clouds shivering shook

the puffs that fell like dead clouds sifted

Children in the dark were dragged from bed

Raced into the late night air to catch a flake

In their hands, in their hair, on their tongues, awake

Smile at this miracle, cheeks rosy and red

Also red are the firetrucks, where the road ices

How many dead will slide into the walls?

How many accidents, brown-outs, and crisis

when these strange incidents sweep and fall?

Snow came, we weren’t ready, but we try this

Pretend we aren’t afraid for siren’s call

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Sonnet #222

The birds will not remember me, nor bees

nor butterflies, but that they lived better and more

will be legacy written in every shadow in the sky

When I am gone, and mud drowns all my sores

There will be living birds that sing memorials

and do not realize to whom their song adores

The honey will be sweet where flowery vials

bore the bounteous nectar and butterflies tore

chrysalises open for gardens painted on the wings

And generations of the flyers hid among these leaves

next to my door, where otherwise was nothing

lawn of grass, mowed, ignored, wilderness bereaved

Where now there is a garden because I lived here

Pilgrims fly in memory of my gardens that were

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Sonnet #221

The ghosts are always here where we – Remember
their Reflections – Trace the story of
the death of those – Who bear our crass dissections
– Giants striving after giants – They
linger in the wind – Where breath calls to
the ghost of giants: a name and all their sins
For all good art is built on mis’ry – Sorrow
sings all songs – And memory of loss, a story
– That echoes far along – The music bends
to voices new – Who reinterpret painted
stones – Master builders born anew
-Build ships from giant bones – haul dreams
Of giants, new made kings – all makers
rise to carry – their ghosts shape hopes and beams

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Sonnet #220

I have been asked to take a side – I take

no sides with thee – whatever sides there are

I will prefer to take the side of trees. We make

a world of men and say we are glory and the power

But our faith demands we seek the lowest beggars

clothe the naked, heal the sick, and feed the poor:

The forest is not naked, is not sick, and blooms forever

But we beggars take until remaining is no more

I think, in faith, we must investigate what makes us poor

For if the world abundant sings, and we in poverty –

It was the treatment of the trees that give us all we are;

The trees are never crying, never tiring, have no snobbery

The trees and blessings of the trees go to elephants and insects

Accumulated mysteries in between make bounty’s architects

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