Sestina #2



“Spring is the prize of the birds that survived,” cackled grackles

The pigeons have no language like theirs, they coo and scratch

the first worms, the first seeds, the firsts of all the things fallen down

“We remember when the world was only ever spring,” say sparrows

“When every day bloomed and rained and never rested.” They sing

And give the music to the mockingbirds, who will always shout from memory




This is how the birds will know what to do, what’s in their shared memory:

(Except the clever pirate birds, the frigates and crows and rooks and grackles)

But the way to think is the repetition of thinking, so what birds sing

is what they know, and Spring, immortal, ebullient, where the scratch

comes up to breathe with full bellies after so long hollow, so many sparrow

hearts that couldn’t keep going, they fall but shared songs never go down




“Once upon a time the world was always warm and wet,” sit down,

find a perch on the rock and listen to the music of collected memory

“Once upon a time, when the world was new, and so were the Sparrows

We flew in a forest as thick as an ocean, before winter, before the Grackle

Before the pigeon and possum and snake and cat, where every Scratch

upon the ground was a fat nut of insect or nut of the flowers, we sing, we sing




“Trees of our memory, forest eternal, we learned to sing

By calling the way wind creaked and swelled until down

came the timbers and up came the cinders and scratch

all you like upon the burned ground, then cinders’ memory

haunt us forever with the great smoke’s ash echo. ” Laughter of grackle

Who listens beside this, wisest and wiliest, forgives all that’s sparrow




“The simple foragers of this world, the tiny sparrow

amuses and confuses itself when it tries to sing,”

Life is a moment, after all, and all is a struggle for grackles

Ascribing a reason to misery is placing courage down

Fight, bite, and grapple, live each day with memory

of the survivor’s victory song, a hack laughter of scratch




And the pigeons coo and dance while they scratch

the ground to live, waddle through the herd of sparrow

bob and weave and dance to coo of all their Memory

of Spring, oh, Spring! Oh, Love! Oh, Green! Oh, Sing!

The oldest dance is the dance of ecstasy, come down

beloved, and lie in this fair field… The grackles




tackle the discarded and departed in all seasons, the grackles

on the power lines when spring storms sweep hunker down

Mudwise, black-eyes, bitter warrior kings, laugh but never sing


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Sonnet #241

The absence of things is the greatness of things
The greatest war that ever was was never fought
The greatest fight that ever was was avoided
The greatest crime that ever was died in the mind that imagined it
The greatest poem ever written is a blank page
a single line moves down that page
Recreating this poem





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Sonnet #242

Where is the patron saint of happiness, of things

and people never lost, of a health that blossoms

self and painless mornings and easy losses?

All our prayers to call away the sufferings

Seem to breed dependence on the Lord

As if this world of suffering is built to bleed us

Until we must cry out for grace to relieve us

And saints must help those tuggers on their cord.


Lord, grant us saints of happiness, of everyday

Get out of beds, of Morning coffee, whistled tunes,

And tousled hair late in the day, where we stay

Among the rushes, among the birdsongs, stay

Lord, grant us patron saints of all those lazy afternoons

Of peaceful copper sunsets, and brilliant early moons.

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Sonnet #240

Everyone I know and love, and everything I need

Exists upon an eggshell, hung by a handshake

as light as a feather; sewn needle and thread

is some landscape cross-stitched at best, that bleeds

in mud patches and most of it is water what’s left

is all weeds, a few parking lot moonscapes lean

a few cities together where we think there’s hem and heft

Except a single breath could wash this eggshell clean

Of all we know of living things in all the darkness —


Bees dance to guide to flowers; we dance directions, too

But our maps are of interiors deep and warm and blessed

Let me guide you into darkness, where my darkness blooms

Let’s work a dance to skylines dark and vast and yet unknown

Where eggshells upon eggshells can be reborn into our homes

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Sonnet #239

Blackberries are roses. Don’t let anyone forget.

Also apples and cherries are roses, the bloom

has the blush, the center familiar, the plum

is a rose, all of them showing their past

Say one is tall as a tree, or as small as a cane

Say the leaves are different, the climates

Say the histories dispute the details of the diets

And the nature of the frosts demand their changes

But, they are roses. See them bloom. The petals

blush as petals, and smell so sweet they fill a room

Every blossom is connected, though the meddle

of the men that came pretend to divvy up and fume

The details of the rosehips that they peddle —

Smell the peach upon the table, know it’s bloom

is roses, all just roses: how sweets are made is settled.

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Sonnet #238

In which the demon speaks is that which lives
For nothing dead can carry demonology,
Those determinate souls who will certainly
Go down way down will unperturbed slide
Into their days while those too good for words
Will never speak the language of the gloom
In which the demon speaks is that which fumes
The furious nights, the chattering like a bird
Upset at birds, trying to lift up the birds, perhaps
Those things that only fly and never recall the reason
The long memories flow in which the demon laughs
is where the soul carrying tries to laugh at demons
The ones who try to build in an image, burn off chaff
Clean the skies of clouds, cast magic at the seasons

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Sonnet #237

We love in the kingdom of broken toys
Yet often forget that we are of them
But — let’s be truthful — nothing works right when
It’s just removed from box, girls and boys
Must bend the limits of designers into shapes
And as the wearing happens parts will scratch
Some will shatter or disappear, unscrew, unlatch
Until we settle in to our familiar limping gaits
And melt and stumble and be made new
Unfinished until broken, all designs a start
Where the hands of builders stop, the true
Shapes emerge from happy abusers, faulty parts
We live in the kingdom of broken toys
Play until ruined on costumes and joys

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Sonnet #236

Believe in darkness, for in shadows truths reveal

The shape of shadows, the way the room traverses

Where the foot breaks on wood and remembered curses

How the forest of the night is holy in how it feels:

Terrifying. An all-consuming shadow, all jagged places

Rapacious. Believe in darkness, for darkness walks

Behind you. You cannot see the steps, but talk

Into the darkness, whisper, beg for mercy, race

if you dare, but the faster run the faster trip

The harder fall: Believe in darkness where the holy

Stalks behind you, in the rising hairs, the slip

Where hidden boundaries and subtle, slowly

grasping, paths of vegetation and lost steps

Each footfall made in hope, each prayer made truly

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Sonnet #235

We bloom at night when nothing but moths

are pouring from the shadows, our perfume

calls all their tongues to dip into our womb

Where we hold ground and make, our worth

Is measured in the memories of souls

Where bent by us, the moon’s refraction,

With the gesture of our palms,concatenations

of our scents, intoxicate all strolls

with echoes in the air, our silent songs,

This scent of flowers shining from the bark

Where petals hidden pale and focused strong

to call the moths of midnight, they embark

in dreamlight off their hard cocoons, but not for long

We feed these shadow countries, cool and stark

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Sonnet #234

To sing of miracles, let us sing the spiders’ song

This misty early spring, rains crystallize the webs

the architecture glistens like a crystal silk and strong

so strong to hold the weight of water; how did

these tiny minds build up to this from Darwin’s years?

Surrounded by such miracles we can’t even stop

to enjoy in all this rain, I sing of tiny spiders

how small their arms, how small their lot

Inventing in the corners of the world their dazzling

Made for no one, beauty for no sake at all

Despite eight eyes, they never admire the puzzling

shapes and countershapes that form their whole

The tremor in the web beneath their feet

is all they know, a tense vibrato of life and defeat

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