Daily Archives: August 12, 2016

Forty Mornings at the Pen

As a challenge to myself, I have written a sonnet every day for forty-one days and posted them. The sonnets themselves are written in the morning, first thing, when I am still drinking coffee and convincing an excited dog that it is not time to go for a walk, yet. I sit down and open the web platform and construct a sonnet. I read over it, and try to make it the best I can in that moment. I post the sonnet. Every day, then, for over forty days.

The term forty days and forty nights really doesn’t refer to a specific number of days and nights. It just means a really long time. It’s always an original sonnet. I often, during the day, and especially at night, try to figure out what I might write about in the morning. It often reflects the day I had. I work from the house, and garden and clean and cook and keep animals alive. I observe things about the world, and the creatures that share it. I have my prides and prejudices about the world around me that are quick to emerge over the course of the days of sonnets. Initially intended as a sort of spiritual exercise, I discovered most of my personal spirituality happens in the garden, a little in the chores. The interior world of the soul is a reflection of the perceived reality of the world around us. I think, perhaps, that environmental factors are an under-appreciated aspect of the spiritual life in popular Western culture, and that the little daily chores accumulate a focus and energy that can be imbued with the spirit through the sacraments of the quotidian. I also find myself writing often about my attempts to understand my own relationship with nature, and nature’s relationship with me.

There are words that keep appearing, too, and I did not realize how much they were a part of my interior vocabulary. The words we use everyday do not often carry with them the notion that they are capable of cosmic ideas, for these words are, for us who use them, the tools we use to do everything and anything quotidian. Yet, it is these tools that feel so mundane by which we are most capable of approaching what we truly mean when we speak of things that are conceptual. The words that form the bedrock of my soul are not deep or grand. They roll off my tongue with a simplicity and familiarity of so much use that the words have become invisible, so much a bedrock that I can’t even see how much of me is built upon them. Over the course of days, expressing ideas as best I can with the tools that I have, the chaff and bluster is quickly stripped away. It is a grueling thing to attempt a sonnet every day. It is only a few days in that it feels like folly. I don’t believe that what I wrote is amazing, but I feel that it was as true as I could make it. I don’t believe that any of it will last or ring down the halls of time. I do believe that it is a course in personal language, a window into where my imagination stands, and where the guts of my brain are moving.

Write a sonnet every day. Forty days and forty nights, which is another way of saying a really long time, until the sonnets start to hurt. Write a sonnet every day until the task feels too big, and the whimsy and joy has been stripped back and it’s a chore, a hard, breaking task. Write a sonnet every day until the mind is stripped away of all the pride and prejudice of penmanship and self-perception is broken into bits. Write a sonnet every day and see who you are, right now, in this late summer heat.

Forty-one sonnets, and probably more. I will write until I’ve broken myself and broken myself again.




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Sonnet #41

We do not know the ecosystems at our door

We only know the story that we see, there
Suburbia, a nice, safe place, clean yards, fear
exists here, though. The ants, the cats, the gore
of the hunt: We live in a forest, we just decideĀ 
the trees and shrubs that pull the creatures to us
Our lost pets go wild, our poisons clear wide
swathes of niches ripe for colonization, abide
all you want picking at inches tall of grass
By night, the cats will hunt, the rats will run
The ants will build their fortresses in loosened soil
The birds pass through, the squirrels, possums,
coyotes, deer, all the marginal things will toil
Another meal from sidewalks. They come.

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