Sonnet #194

The mountain climbers know each other by the handshake
There’s a weary eye, a roughness in the palm
The smell of heaven rests upon them like a psalm
hovering at the edge of hearing, there’s no quake
about their steps, a lean and narrow trajectory.
They know each other in the street and cafe
They may not speak much to each other lately
But there isn’t really anything to tell a story
There was a mountain, once, it was high and proud
The climbers mapped a route, gathered supply
They put one foot after another, until the clouds
Were underfoot, until the wind was a war cry
The echo of empty peaks reverberates below
Mountain climbers meet each other and they know

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Sonnet #193

Inside every heart is a moment of silence
That is the actual beat: Without that pause
That space – that’s how we measure because
the tempo is the wait between the tense

This silence, rising falling, spreading, waiting

Consider this: The world of the birds is larger
Than ours, the world of the whales is larger
For where we can only reach the wainscotting

They can breach above, below, follow tides
or winds until the whole world that is a home
is larger and wider and deeper than all of Rome
And the music that they make from where they hide

Connects all the kingdoms of the earth and we
call it silence. We call it empty skies, empty seas

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Sestina #1

Braced against the skin of this watery rock
Every single person anybody knows their name
Is here, some apartment, some crowded room
Below our feet all the ground we’ll ever hold
All that lives, and all that dies, wrapped in space
Endless space, and swirling suns and galaxies

I send my love to sing the galaxies
The rolling derbies of steel upon the rock
Where new kingdoms will carry our name
Where children of our love will make room
For more children, where the life holds
Warm and clean shelter, fill up this space

When you merely study this dark and space
You will not see just the empty glow of galaxies
Where no signs of life cling to ice and rock
You’ll paint mythologies upon the stones by name
Therein pushing history and dreams to make room
For human bodies to rise into the dark and hold

This seedling I carry to our orchard, I hold
so close into my chest, the space
between the lemon tree and the galaxies
Is shaped like the absence of a rock
The absence of a history, of a name
And I stand between these two places, all room

I plant my love and my tree where there’s room
For roots to reach and hands to touch and hold
We’ll carry all these living things into space
And bring the wild earth to the galaxies
Where seedlings and insects dig into rocks
And make new islands, become new things, new names

I send my love to you signed by name
Will you let me sweetly into your room
Where, together, we may have and hold
And bathe our skin in dappled starlight space
above us sinking into our skin, the light of galaxies
Calling to our children down to our little rock

The universe in a conch shell, names in chaos held in rock
Where geologic time holds deep in our quiet bedroom
The skin of us, the tiniest galaxies of us, to fill all space

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Sonnet #192

Be loyal to mother and father and child
Be loyal to god and to the holy wild
Be loyal to all children,  all grands and greats
Abandon all loyalty to king and state
Abandon the store that would abandon us
And fill in the factories with slaves of rust
Abandon all loyalty to priests of the mind
Instead of loyalty — be kind, always kind

For olive trees twist and the vines all falter
And the fig trees ooze sap in the place all bones rattle
Where the roof tops bend and carry no shelter
There is the place where kill comes for cattle

Loyal to only the wind of the stars,
And the shivering Atoms, life, alone, prays

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Sonnet #191

And Solomon, what’s left of all his glory?
His meticulously described temple is gone
The gold and olive-wood carving is a story
that contains the temple, now. All he has done
as a king, the wars and lovers, all, adrift
like wet books in large oceans, passing
from one wave to another, the slow shift
of rewriting wet pages and back into the tossing
Until the story, itself, only pretends at truth
There was a man, once, who would be king
In his dream, he asked for wisdom from a God
And, when he woke, the babe was brought in
Two women shouting, “It’s mine! The child’s mine!”
And, his mind burning, he held the sword of time

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Sonnet #190

I used to know how to write a poem
Once upon a time I even knew stories
I see these ideas I built like ruined Rome
I have buried more in my worries
Than I have ever been able to keep
Once I thought I could change everything
Build parapets of paragraphs, war weep
To carry sorrow to joyful ignorance bring
Light to undiscovered continents inside
The soul of dreams. I wake up from this
The dust accumulated, buried streets wide
I stumble to work lost to the fabled kiss
Of forces greater than one little soul
I have forgotten more than will ever be whole

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Sonnet #189

The castle is no place to be a man,

All that dust and draftiness, narrow stairs

And those tiny slits for windows. Escape plans

And siege equipment, and all those rare

Accumulated things growing mold

or hidden in moldy boxes, and the cracks

in the walls where mice, chewing on old

manuscripts. And there’s all those people hack

coughs in the dust and race around the stairs

No, the castle is no place to be a man

The crown is an unnatural invention made for stares

That weighs the mind down. Will you stand?

I’ve never met a man in a castle – only jesters

Who seem unaware of the jeers of their betters.

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Sonnet #188

The day I knew I could never go home

Again, never again, was with a cookie

I knew in childhood, a humble cookie

And the memory of the cookie’s grown

a mythology in my desire, a craving

irrational, at best, an addiction to it

Such that I must never permit

the thing to enter the house, and staving

off this desire is a fact I know as truth

If I give in and taste the cookie,

It is not so great in my mouth

As it is as a memory of the cookie

The taste is nothing but a dream

Old rooms in lost houses larger than seem

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Sonnet #187

We do not know the world is not an egg
Waiting to hatch when it is warm enough
The inner workings of the magma and rough
stone crust are known only by trembling legs
And layers of sediment, volcanic eruptions
We only know what lies smeared upon the edge
The topsoil layer, the distant crane flight’s stretch
and the mumble of the clouds between; excitations
could mean anything. How do we know for sure
Each planet is not a dragon’s egg, remember the serpent?
Remember the old tales, how darkness swallows azure
and the land beneath our feet cracks – inadvertant
to this, we make such plans about new myths, a blur
of heavenly angels that will come, for some important

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Sonnet #186

There used to be parakeets across this country
They were a splash of color in the corn
The farmers took the musketball and scorn
To drive them to the brink, a stuffed sundry
Along with the carrier pigeon, they all died
And that was supposed to be the end of it
Ask anyone they’ll tell you there’s no parrot
Native to this country anymore, all died
All died… Except, the pets went wild
And look up into the trees of the city
There the colonies cackle in style
They call them invasive, but they’re pretty
And they came here from some emerald isle
The same as any ghosts where we lacked pity

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