Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Should I compare you to a summer’s day?
No, I don’t think so. Sometimes you complain
Your feet are cold. More often, what you say
Reminds me most of late October rain.
I might suggest you’re like a red, red rose,
But only for your thorny qualities,
And how you bend with every breeze that blows;
I’ve seen you change your mind during a sneeze.
Perhaps you’re like a recently chewed nail,
Jagged and bitten down to its rough nub,
Indicative of that old twice-told tale:
Turning your finger into a blue stub.
So many things to say, some of them true;
I fell asleep while writing about you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Flaming Rock

I don't recall the impact, but I know
When I was hit. The fireball landed hard,
A white-hot, flaming rock, leaving me charred
And speechless. I was grateful for the dew,
Followed by rain, and then, as if on cue,
Came lightning. Deafened by thunder, I sparred
With darkness through the day. I am ill-starred,
I started thinking, thinking about you.

What is it, darling, that sets you apart
From other lovers? I was taking stock,
Considering the way you think, and talk,
Watching your eyes for signs of fear and shock,
Deciphering the twisting of your heart,
And I found it: you're a flaming rock.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Ladies from the Bank

I dance the cha cha, and the rhumba, too,
Together with the ladies from the bank.
I'm grateful, but I'm not sure whom to thank;
The ladies love it, really, they all do,
Or so they always say, and when we're through
We go for coffee, at the evening's shank,
And talk about – well, if I may be frank,
We talk about their husbands. Wouldn't you?

The spectacle that's me, traipsing around
The dance floor with a loans department clerk,
Stops when the new branch manager leaves work
To join us: junior tellers go to ground,
The greeters disappear, without a sound,
And she steps on my toes, without a smirk.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Where I've Been

I took a long vacation, of three weeks,
And that's why no new sonnets had appeared
While I was in Madrid, growing a beard,
Examining the sea-face of the peaks
Of Corsica, at last shaving my cheeks
In Paris, where the thin-sliced beef was seared
But not cooked through, exactly as I feared,
And someone filled the Sainte-Chapelle with freaks.

But Louis's holy relics can't be found,
And all that's left is three fourths of the glass
From 1465. We'll let that pass –
We're sitting twenty feet above the ground
And my poor head is ringing with the sound
Of iambs, not the arches or the mass.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Heart's Geography

I waited once for you, beneath the lamp,
So you could see my face when you arrived,
But when you came, the moment was contrived,
The dew was rising, temperate but damp,
And silence, like a dark, tenacious clamp,
Held back the dawn. Had nothing else survived
But my own heart, that quiet might have thrived,
But you chose something of another stamp.

You chose the moon, the stars, the endless sound
Of ocean waves, the bright electric spark
That new machines make, as they leave their mark
On lives and cool geography, the ground
Torn, rippled, bent, devoured, used up, and bound.
I choose the silence, and I choose the dark.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Listening to the Chair

I'm writing this while listening to the chair.
No, not the chairman – I hear furniture.
There is a meeting going on, I'm sure,
Somewhere, although I'm sure I don't know where,
And tables are complaining: It's not fair,
They tell me. Leave us be! I never stir,
Pretending I'm not feeling insecure,
Knowing my neighbour's ferrets want my hair.

I'm kidding! Tables never spoke to me!
My neighbour's pets are adequately fed
(Mind you, their beady little eyes are red,
And when they look my way so spookily
I have to spit and turn around). You see?
I'm fine. Which isn't what the damn chair said.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Our Hearts

My heart explodes with longing. You can tell
By watching how the colour of my eyes
Has darkened, and how, trembling with surprise,
My hands betray me. Not an empty shell,
My body shivers; this will not dispel
Desire. I need you. There are simple lies
I could have told; it would have been unwise,
But for a moment all would have been well.

Our hearts must meet, love. Having now explored
Your body, I could draw a perfect chart
Of each fair hair's-breadth of you; I ignored
No slightest part. That was an easy start.
You gave some of yourself, no slight reward,
But I must have your heart. The truth. Your heart.

Our Hearts, part 30 (end)

Friday, November 18, 2005


I do not mind the darkness, or the cold;
The fog and noise almost refresh my heart,
As tokens of the past. There is an art
To spinning, aching, and becoming old.
The aftershock, the lies we have been told,
Our love, real memory, all break apart
In time, in no time, like the gestures, smart,
Fashionable, and smooth, too late to scold.

I only bring you late, faint praise once more.
What can I say to honour you? Unborn,
My words press on my tongue; in semaphore
The trees, bred by the wind, turn leaves to mourn;
The summer halts; I falter, and a score
Of nature's minions chorus me with scorn.

Our Hearts, part 29

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Distance

This distance, once the test that made me strong,
Has now become, since you arrived to see
What separation had produced in me,
My weakness. I have dedicated song
And spirit to my love. I was not wrong
To do this, but did so improvidently,
Gesturing broadly where a quiet plea
Would serve, and nurturing hope for too long.

Desire and anguish strike me as a flint,
And flames envelop me, here where I stand.
The gesture made in easy, distant print
Brought you to me. Briefly a wonderland,
My life has lost all but the barest hint
Of even that briefest touch of your hand.

Our Hearts, part 28

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Accusation of Intransigence

The terrifying thing about the past
Is its unchanging nature, which is not,
Despite appearances, all we have got.
Why should we be embarrassed or aghast
At those events we have forgotten, classed
With figments, fictions, and unbodied thought?
Do you remember perfectly the spot
At which you chanced to see these figments last?

Hello, and welcome to the present tense,
Tomorrow's yesterday, what we forget
As night falls, unexpected, swift, and dense,
The only time that matters; we have met
The accusations of intransigence,
But are we sure the past is over yet?

Our Hearts, part 27

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Since You Have Loved Me

The fog-dwellers and stranded lovers here
Have been chastising me for leading them
By poor example, by displaying phlegm
Instead of cunning and resource: a tear,
A demonstration of reserves of fear,
A willingness to cavil and condemn,
An aptitude for gracelessness – the gem
Among the qualities these outcasts cheer.

Since you have loved me, with unbridled haste
My former friends have shown some signs of stress,
And watched my improved fortunes with distaste.
Regretting only their unhappiness,
Since you have loved me, I dislike the waste,
But must the night be all that we possess?

Our Hearts, Part 26

Friday, November 11, 2005

Think of a Man

You could pretend that you were never kissed
The way I kissed you, you were never raised
By passion quite this way before, or praised
And overpraised so: the philanthropist,
I managed to provide what you had missed
Through all those empty years, the way I gazed
Into your eyes, and how I seemed amazed
When you appeared for each successive tryst.

Have men not always bared their hearts to you,
Exposed such passion that you sometimes ran?
Why act as if delight were something new,
Experienced but once? Think of a man,
Not of an empty shell prepared to rue
Nothing, and grasping every straw he can.

Our Hearts, part 25

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Spark

If I had been seduced by some device
You tried on me with easy mastery,
We would not find ourselves so much at sea
Now that the bloom is gone, the gentle spice
Which seemed so sweet, which sweetly could entice
Surrender from me; I expect a fee
Could be devised for such fine strategy,
Were it in practice, an exotic price.

But no one was seduced, not you, not I:
Between us we decided to embark
On this adventure. Were you very sly,
Was I unduly clever? In the dark
All smiles are similar. We did not try
To misinform. I say there was a spark.

Our Hearts, part 24

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Saints and Angels

I still believe we can expect the best
(Expect the worst, and yet deny despair);
I still delight in gazing at your hair
(And other things – ho, there's a hornet's nest!);
The sun, behind you in the distant west
(And much obscured by the bright smile you wear),
Grants you a crisp halo, in the sharp air
(Are you a saint? Is this another test?).

We should be happy, if you are a saint
(We are both saints), and if the setting sun,
No brighter than a bit of yellow paint
(Mixed in a jam jar, not too thick to run),
Does humbly worship you, without restraint.
(I do. You are an angel. Act like one.)

Our Hearts, part 23

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Some Broken Things

We both know all the fancy words and tricks
(Dust, gestures, fog, imagination, signs,
Noise, cold, and darkness, and the sun that shines
Within your breast) which each of us must mix
With truth to fashion mortar for the bricks
Of this dark house among the winter pines,
In a bright jungle, rife with hanging vines.
There are some broken things we cannot fix.

Our hearts, beyond saving, we cannot save,
And we should know that neither love nor hate
Rebuilds false hopes which passed into the grave
Silent and proud, assumed their new estate
With modesty, which your own courage gave –
Late praise again, my love. Is it too late?

Our Hearts, part 22

Monday, November 07, 2005

Watching for True Love

That all-consuming passion which endowed
Our first encounter in that awful bed
With hope and honest dignity has fled.
I was too silent, and you were too loud,
You, far too humble; I, of course, too proud.
I watched for love, true love, but found instead
The ghost of truth, denied, traduced, misled,
And made a prisoner in a dark cloud.

I have not executed duties well
Which fell to me and should have been addressed
Much sooner and accomplished, truth to tell,
With ease. Unfortunately I was distressed,
And lost my head. Truth, in its vaporous cell,
Remains a captive, unbowed, unexpressed.

Our Hearts, part 21

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Standard Joys and Blessed Sorrows

And here we are, together and alone:
You, answering to any name that fits
The gestures for the way a woman sits
And watches how a man alters his tone
While watching her; and me, turning to stone
And quietly abandoning my wits.
You wonder why a living man submits
To this; such attitudes are not unknown.

Late praises once again, and signs, and dark,
Imaginary history, and noise.
I try to cover or erase the mark
You made upon my life, the standard joys
And blessed sorrows, and at last the spark
Is doused. The fire warms us, and then destroys.

Our Hearts, part 20

Saturday, November 05, 2005


I do apologize. Our feelings must
Have failed. Our expectations of delight
Seem to have vanished, slipped off in the night
We spent together. Aching with mistrust,
And with that solemn, predatory lust,
We wished each other well, as well we might,
And crawled through passionate but somehow slight
Love, all the trappings and the tricks of dust.

The combination, terror and despair
(Two useful, if not quite enchanting, traits),
With which we have impressed our love affair,
Will also serve (who only stands and waits?)
To join our spirits, though we cannot bear
The undermining of our separate states.

Our Hearts, part 19

Friday, November 04, 2005

Where We Turned Foolish

Have I assailed your virtue and your soul,
For which I have such genuine respect
And tenderness, in so harsh and stiff-necked
A manner as to take this great a toll?
Are you unwell, my love, mad and unwhole,
Because of me? Why did you not object?
You knew my passion could be easily checked;
Am I a monster, some ungodly troll?

If I apologize, you will mistake
My meaning, thinking that I would accept
Some blame for both our loving and our break.
I can accept no blame. It was inept,
This sorrowful affair, but now, awake,
We see where we turned foolish, while we slept.

Our Hearts, Part 18

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Thanking You

In thanking you for favours, rendered me
So gracefully, I do not mean to gloat.
I warned you I would fail to strike the note
Of tact and grace which comes so naturally
To you. I cautioned you that you would see
No reason to continue to devote
Yourself to me, blithely to bare your throat
To these bright fangs I wield inexpertly.

Your gentle touch awoke me, and I sprang
From bed to take you in my outstretched arms
And hold you tightly while the thunder rang,
Calling to us with all its wild alarms.
I was too tired to realize I sang
A song which praised to you another's charms.

Our Hearts Part 17