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Sonnet #216

When I hear the mockingbird sing, I sing to her
I mock the mockingbird, then try a new song
If I am clever, and have perturbed upon her
The mockingbird mocks my happy wrong
I don’t trill enough – I don’t whip or whill
I don’t hit the high notes, or low notes or click
The mockingbird’s voice is greater in skill
And breaks my little tune high to the quick
Say I am no songbird, no voice, but say this:
The birds will bring my song to my door
The mockingbird sees me, and offers this kiss
of music; she thinks it a taunt of the poor
The giant she humbles smiles and asks more
Sing all my music back, I want to hear it soar

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Sonnet #215

When we die we rest in a little version of home

Those city dwellers combust in urns and crowds

Or pile their bones in catacombs that rattle loud

where cars drive over the underworld paving stones

Surburbanite, you will lie in a green grass plot

The form and material of your tombstone will be approved

And men will come to mow the grass, and beloved

will lie together yet in separate rooms, as lived as bought

Where I die lay no memorial stone except as trees

I will be as rooted in death as the rootless

who fall in the fields unmourned, but for me

The green of living will sing of my giving; Unless

you hold these rowdy and unnamed places holy,

You don’t hold me: My Legacy, my Ghost Purposes

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Sonnet #214

The ghosts are made of water, we just
think that they are lights, but they are
damp, a chill that cuts to bone, an aura
In the air, like a vapor of what was lost
Accumulation of the spirits means
the cloud of life collects until
the soul, crystalline and swirling sloshed,
And this is why we cry as if
a piece of soul is torn out, lost
as if a tiny piece of spirit drifts
away into the clouds, first faces crossed
to oceans crossed to gills of fish
Until the souls rise up to clouds across
the sky, our pain up there, rain spirit’s kiss

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Sonnet #213

Performers are not supposed to talk about the guns

That come in the night, those thousand tiny

injuries that mark the skin, just make fun

Dance for the camera, smile and be friendly

Pretend that everything is going to be all right

When the gunmen come in the dark to take

People who made the best choices out of bad, night

comes, good people lie awake in dread, wake

the artists up to help forget that they are afraid

In the same way, the keepers of guns want to forget

The twinge of guilt that hardens like a pearl laid

black in the back of their mind, where lie regrets

How dare anyone make anyone remember the gun song

all stories sing to the gun song, who holds the gun belongs

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Sonnet #212

The big, black, ugly bird that clings
to rooftops in the city, long of wing
And long of neck, naked, warty thing
That swoops out of the twilight, singing
Songs of ugly hunger, early death
Where lost breaths are swallowed breath
by breath, we walked in city streets, enwreathed
in sidewalks, green grass and oak leaves wreath
the idylls of we who pretend until the bird
black bird cawing in the break of dawn, a word
of darkness, swoop upon the rooftops, heard
in bedrooms still dark, waking to a dead word
A kitten half-eaten by the dogs of moonlight
The wicked tooth, and vultures own all twilights

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All Roads Lead to Rome

Baudicia will tell you this about civilization:
It happens to the body, first the women
Experience the effort to civilize
Where the glory of the empire reaches in
And hammers down and whips away
nothing is left to her own devices,
Then, as if that isn’t enough, the men
Must help or die – their bodies
Will be civilized, too;
Then it keeps happening over and over
Until no one even remembers what
Was before, was it even possible
To stand alone in the forest
And feel the shape of destiny guided
By the wind in the trees, the fish swimming
Up the rivers, trapped in the weirs and plums
Dropping in early autumn

This is the story of Adam and Eve
Where the apple of knowledge was a metaphor
For the way it always begins upon a body
Inside a body, and who controls the body
Before it was a paradise on earth

When the braceros came north to work the farms
They were deloused in sheep vats, fully immersed
In ddt. Blasted with it. They screamed in pain
When the lettuce and strawberries were more
Valuable than human spines

Many of the children don’t remember
How it all started.
It hurts too much to tell them
How we got to here.

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Sonnet #211

They call the place Cathedral Rock
The Balcones Fault rises to a balcony
A large bluff, they say it was holy
Where ceremonials were held, we walked
A long trail, the live oaks were green
New growth in buds and dead leaves
Drifting like autumn, the quiet breathes
In the space between hills where mean
City noises do not reach, where even birds
Their music and cicada songs drift away
The silence made by hills where the word
Itself becomes a memory and the sway
Of leaves descending holds the language
That makes whole, without majesterial baggage

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Sonnet #210

All the steps it took for one day’s weather
A pretty day, a cool breeze blowing, light heat,
Was made at the dawn of time where tethers
broke and all the cosmos scattered in a heartbeat
For millenia, the atoms clumped and scattered
Until a solar star emerged slowly among the scores
And emerging rock with life resilient and battered
Kingdoms rose upon the bones of dinosaurs
And of the days, as momentum spins the rocks
Of endless tiny patches among these galaxies
A little green where we, in smallness, walk
A pretty day, a perfect day, a dawn so perfectly
It’s all connected, hurricanes become a breeze
Supernovas push at matter rustling leaves

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Sonnet #209

Tyger, tyger die afright in the
headlights of the cars, the cops who shoot
at boys from fear will quiver in their boots
With every flicker of your growling teeth
If fear can kill a child, it can kill a king
Slayer of giants, kidnapped from temples
Fed hamburger meat in some crowded rental
Enough is enough and the doorbell rings
All the bolts click free, Run! You, gorgeous!
Run into the forest, the city is all trees
All useless beasts more curious than nervous
Until the headlights come; the people see,
Shoot to kill, and brag forever — Tyger, Tyger,
Stolen twice: They only get to hunt you here.

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Sonnet #208

“I’ve come from the future,” he said

He sat down at my table in a rush

“We need to talk,” he said. I shook my head

“I can tell you the future already, so hush

and don’t ruin it for me. We will all die.

All of us will die. It will be fast or slow

or in a crowd, perhaps, afraid. We try

to live, but it ends. It always ends. So,

in between then and now, we do what we can

to make the world a better place, make babies

Teach them to do better, and try to make a plan

In case things don’t get better. Whatever you say to me

doesn’t matter,” I said. “Have a drink and go home.”

He nodded. “Death, they say: All roads lead to Rome.”

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