Sonnet #275

Before they burn in autumn sunlight, they

will feast on candlestick trees, golden yellow

as the sun where the flowers feed their fellow

firebirds, to burn without a puff of smoke, they

eat a feast of sunlight, fly to heat, burn with no clouds

Cloudless Sulphur on the wind, the beating wings

Flicker brimstone, dead oak leaves falling

And these little golden flames fly proud

About the place; to decay is to burn a little

To feel the energy being peeled to gone

And in this gentle, slow fire’s spittle

New life follows seasons’ longest song

Where the leaves fall, brimstone butterflies flicker

And the ruins’ end comes quicker, quicker


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Sonnet #274

“We who own the wind,” they say, “We own

the sky and ground. We own the wind, how it

blows through the canyons, how it screams, sit

down in a field that we own, too, and know

these men who came before you and took claim

of the water in the sea and the minerals in soil

We planted flags on moons and invented water’s boil

We own the process of the boil, we own the same

things everywhere; nothing is new, nothing is not ours.”

That is what they say, what they always say to us

That come after them into the canyons and valleys and fjords

That we owe them just standing. At first, we believe because

We have heard this song so much, until we shout

loud enough into their wind, and decide that no one owns us

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Sonnet #273

In morning twilight, the moon shone bright beyond

the whisper clouds, a purple blue, a brightest white

I thought to snap a picture of the moon, but I

had left my phone inside the house, the moment gone

I knew, and would be broken if I went and came

again out here, beneath the orange tree; the range

of twilight colors, the shift of clouds, all changed,

the grandeur of this moment moon will never be the same


(At my mother’s house, last week we scoured old albums

She said she was amazed at all the pictures with no one

in them, monuments and mountains, wasted ink, common

for now the things she wanted most were family, her children.)


The greatest meal I ever had, I think, was a glass of cool water

On a warm day in summer. Life’s beauty lies in such simple affairs.

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Sonnet #272

The dead leaves and dirty ground will keep the roots

So leave the mess where it is found until the spring

Be patient, for until the music of the frosts unstrings

We never know what swell of song will stomp the boots

What keening winds will come, these broken ruins

Will bear the worst of all these songs to come

And leave beneath the grotesque twisted bones

The sweet of green wrapped up inside the cambium

Be gentle, be patient, leave all the leaves to blow

Allow the stalks to wilt upon the ground

Where fireflies root and salamander stow

Until the rise of sun and heat comes round

There the worms devour and there the toads:

A messiness is living when the symphony resounds!

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Sonnet #271

The stone fruits in autumn are an exhaustion

I can understand: They pushed so hard

Into the light, reached every root until exertion

swelled into the bloom of life, a hundred new words

hang from every limb for weeks, and then they break

The wind blows, the dry times come, the storms

And the sun, itself, yawns apart, leans back;

What else can be done but decay a little, let the worms

among the fallen leaves, and let the leaves

we lost become the soil we eat, devouring self

And devouring those we welcome as thieves;

From the outside, we are sleeping, that’s what they tell

But what no one sees is roots reaching, ever creating

The stonefruits and I look snowstorm still, roots reaching

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Sonnet #270

The line between nature and man is easy

There is a trail along the ground and mowers

Come to clear the path, but tractors

Don’t travel into trees, so there, a line you see


It follows us home if we let it, where the line

could be anywhere, hidden behind a fence

In empty flower pots where anything’s presence

Is allowed – spiders and ants and weeds, it’s fine


Let the line fall over the night sheets, where dreams

and possibilities wrestle in the dark, wild places

kept and unkempt, a hidden shadow kingdom

where the eyes look out from darkness, faces

unknown by even us, carry this unknown seams

loosely in the daylight, be vessels for feral graces


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Sonnet #269

All the elders come together, all the young men
and women come, gather where the kings
will stand above the dais, where they ring
the new season of the lord, and we can bend

the ears of heaven with our sacrifices, our prayers
At the very top of lungs, where no king shouts
back and is heard above the din of our voices out
loud, where all the songs we sing are greater

Than all the noise of kings, the cymbals and din
of commanding voices, where no gunfire quells
the fury of the voices, we can shout the bullets down
We can shout them all down, where all is not well
And shout and sing and shout until the bells
of heaven are all that’s greater, and rings the crowns

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Sonnet #268

My body is here; my mind is not
I get lost on the old trails of memory
Lost in the books that I carry and that carry
Me in return, lost in the way I wish what
I could do to make things better for us
And what I want to do to make my hands
Still, my head still, to try and fulfill plans
And finish what I started: to leave no mess
When I am done. My body is here, but I
Am an energy vibrating in time’s shadow
I will never be here with you, never just lie
In the darkness, where the wood shadows
My face and we can pause together as I
Am an energy, moving and dreaming and off I go

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Sonnet #267

We could take it all, someday, you understand

It is possible that man and woman mine it all

And nothing’s left in the ground, and drills fall

silent and all the rock down to the lava lands

have nothing left to take — We live in a finite world

It only feels infinite because we are far more finite

We couldn’t possibly make our way among the firmament

We will birth, love, death in only corners, gather pearls

Where we may, and never know the cost of what we take

There is a limit to the soil, a limit to the oil, a limit

One day, we’ll scrape it up, and that’s all we’ll take

Because there’ll be nothing left but climate

Burning off what’s left of us, the oceans boil to lakes

of fire, and the fever breaks; this place is finite.

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Sonnet #266

I take great pride in little things, like this:

Any time of day, any time of year, I go
into my little southern garden I know
that there will be butterflies, their whisper kiss
alighting on the flowers, there, planted
to call them down from the clouds —
the bees are always there — I’m proud
to say they bustle in the vines and shrubs
while I refrain from laying poisons down;
The work, when I am getting to it, shove
a few words down, a few more, grown
from meat in great discomfort, grubs
gnawing and i yank and pull and throw
I know someday they’ll be beautiful ones

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