Monthly Archives: August 2016

Sonnet #50

In the morning, I look myself in the mirror,

Brush the night grime from my teeth and gums,
I lean in close enough to see my eyes clearer,
without my glasses on. As close as I come,
As blind as I am, I could smell his breath
if he had any. Feel grateful for each gray hair
I came to my graying honestly, no wealth
came to me, but my health is fine, my stare
into my own eyes reminds me I am not
dead, I am not pretty, I am an echo of the mighty
whose birthright was to stand, but I am not
mighty. I am father’s face, my mother’s eyes
Let me see this man I am, let me call him out
Each morning accept myself enough, a daily rout 

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Sonnet #49

I only have so many f***s to give,
So hurry up and gather what you may
I’m completely out, as well, of s***s to give
There’s flying f***s ¬†backordered, but they will stay
in shipment for some time. My f***s come slow,
And in the mean time, these my final f***s
On shelves, in jars, and places you well know,
fair few are left so come and gather quickly
From these, my f***s remaining; I insist
You do not linger browsing thickly
When every moment is an opportunity lost
To gather up my f***s, as many as you can stow
Make your selections of my f***s, and f***ing go

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Sonnet #48

The vine is a parasite of light
It climbs across above and over all
It places weight on victims blocking sight
Carry me brother i am sore sprawled
The tendrils thicken turn and quicken
Brother I thank you now my serpent tongues
Hold fast and tight and squeeze my stalk thickens
By your aid, we are better together, our bones
Belong as one, and all the glory that I build
Is upon this giant’s shoulder, by no intent
My leaves and roots do what they will
I am so thirsty, brother, until seed is spent
Stout oak, swift hackberry, proud pecan trees
Patiently waiting for the rot of limb and leaves

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Sonnet #47

The first that lives forever will be not me

or you, or any one of homo sapien
We try things out in rodents, monkeys
There will be immortal capuchin
Ten thousand years from now the dog
Will pass down, in families, bleary-eyed
Forgetful creature, living in a fog
of smells familiar, memories all keyed
unto the dawn of time, no truth spun
Which memory is real, a bowl of food
A bowl of water, a field in which to run
Friends, all vaguely known, a boy that’s good
Ten thousand years, or more, the rat
The dog, the monkeys and apes, the cat

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Sonnet #46

I never wonder where the rain will fall

When the clouds gather, there is rain
There’s space between one drop; the stain
of water on the ground will splash to all.
Of course there’s space between the drops
Some places struck, some not, the mist of it
Will miss some minute specks of silt
Along the wall, but when the rain stops
It’s hard to tell where one drop fell upon a wall
When the rain comes, we all get wet, all
Even with the umbrellas, galoshes, no props
will keep the cloud of spattering. Even now,
I feel the humid steam upon the windows

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Sonnet #45

Because poets never sing of butchering I don’t
Know the way to carve a deer safely,
Pull out its guts and organs, break the joints
I don’t know how to collect the blood humanely
When the pig is slaughtered, poets don’t sing
Of stuffing geese with grain and a funnel
Until the moment the liver is about to cringe
We learn of the garden in poems, of heaven and hell
The only slaughtering in Odysseus was sacrifice
How to feed blood to ghosts. The rest was war
And kingdom management, and curses and vice:
There was an orchard, though, how to plant one, for
a river runs through it, there are little hills for trees
A gentle slope, runnels for dunging and flowers for bees

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Sonnet #44

The birds will eat all seeds and fruit
They will because they’re hungry, there.
They eat the insects, too. Hunger suits
them, all that energy expended in a hover
We put the nets over the grapes and berries
They dive into the crevices. We hang foil
to shine at them, old CDs, for glaring
light to scare them, put up scarecrow owls…

I cannot blame them, though, their hunger
is the curse that haunts us all, and fear
will drive us all to stones. When younger
they looked to endless blue, drear
emptiness devouring, screaming needs and wants
Grown birds push back the empty sky with cantos

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Sonnet #43

Water, water, everywhere, and all of it to drink
The miracles of modern science, water
Is a wonder. Turn the spigot in the sink
Clean water comes, on command, what better
miracle is there in desert plains like this
Cities dig deep wells, send long pipes
We build dams, erect industrial processes
So that water comes, and we can snipe
about the cost, if we want to, but
we must never forget we’re griping
a social miracle: it could dry up
It could turn orange and rust as piping
rusts in industrial waste, clogs up like treacle,
Work together, earn these everyday miracles.

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Sonnet #42

I don’t believe a person can be born again

The trees can. Take a clipping, dip in hormone
Place in soil, soon the roots descend
The leaves push through, the tree, reborn,
Is ready to rise above the fields anew
Anywhere new. Underground the roots
Recognize themself, mine together through
each other, rise one soul, two shoots
You cannot yet take fingers of flesh
Place them in a womb, expect new life
No false watery grave, no ceremonial mesh
No battlefield or epiphanic strife
We remain our old selves, harder, scarred;
With some survival, maybe riper for the churchyard 

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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.

http://jmmcdermott.blogspot.com/2016/06/sonnet-1.html

 

 

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