Friday, February 24, 2006

The Sonnet Page

This is the place: you're at The Sonnet Page,
Where everything is said in fourteen lines,
Where happy thoughts about how many tines
A proper fork should have are all the rage.
Should Russian acrobats still take the stage
When filled with longing for those jungle vines
Tarzan used so effectively? One dines
On iambs, then decides, relaxed and sage.

No thirteen liners, stanzas crammed too full
To fit the common mould, no anapests,
No dactyls, no unseemly pyrrhic jests,
Just fourteen stately lines of cock and bull.
You're here because you also feel the pull
Of sonnets, where the elegant heart rests.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Thinking of Lana

When I began to sweat around the ears
I knew the time had come to levitate,
And started bouncing like a rubber plate
Thrown down the stairs. I bundled pinking shears
Into my coat and, tamping down my fears,
Made tracks for Lana's. Satan, at the gate,
Attempted to explain I was too late,
But I know how the vixen disappears.

I sang "Air on a G String" very loud,
And out she came, and told me, "Carry on,
Just don't relieve yourself here on the lawn,"
Making a sign to me. I wasn't cowed,
Although I wasn't smart, either, or proud,
But just another glad, enchanted faun.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What You Said

It isn't what you said it was, is it?
It isn't harmless, and what's in your head
(A sort of homeless, shifting, nameless dread)
Sounds like four horses champing at the bit
(The ones upon which those four horsemen sit),
And you look like you just rolled out of bed
Onto the floor, repeating what you said
With growing confidence, though not much wit.

So what was it you said, and what's the truth,
And what's the difference fixed between the two?
Or is the difference fixed at all? Are you,
Insanely hoping to regain your youth,
Dispensing holy writ and then, uncouth
And unashamed, debunking? Are we through?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

February Labrador Sonnet

Don't answer when they ask you where you've been,
Unless you want the whole damn world to know
You underestimated how much snow
Would fall in northern Labrador, a scene
Uninterrupted by any machine
Designed to clear the roads, where drivers go
In snowmobiles, where sweet grass used to grow
But now hides underneath, perhaps not green.

Don't tell them that you brought your bathing trunks,
And made a reservation for a swim
In Sandgirt Lake. There's time to sing a hymn
And pray for brains, before your debut dunks.
Maybe there's something you could ask the monks
Before you're frozen through at every limb.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

To the Listeners

A special greeting's going out today
To all our listeners where moonlit doors
Sit undisturbed by knocking, where the floors
Of forests, ferny, still, even in May,
Raise grasses up for champing. Eyes of grey
Will look up skyward, as a lone bird soars
And, slipping from the turret, seeks the shores
Of some unseen dark ocean, far away.

I only want to know if someone hears;
Is one man left awake or, at this hour,
Does iron sound on stone in some dark bower?
A Traveller departs as morning nears,
Our voices reaching out to no one's ears.
I've kept my word. That much was in my power.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Celebrating St. Bob

I've mended Howard's broken fence once more,
And painted it a gruesome shade of red
From cans my brother found behind the shed,
Half full, mixed on the way home from the store
By adding road salt, fast as they could pour,
And spit. What's left I'm testing out for lead,
And if it's safe, I'll pour it on his head
To celebrate St. Bob of the Large Bore.

We spent another lazy afternoon
Dispatching squirrels. Yes, we had a quest:
To paint our shotguns blue, but Howard guessed
We'd settle for the red. At the saloon
He bought us beer, a helium balloon,
And tattoos of a rattler on my chest.

Monday, February 13, 2006


I felt exploding brickleberries, laced
With cognac, in a piece of layer cake,
Shards of vanilla beans, the kind you bake
Into those fanciful desserts, and graced
With endless almond slivers, smoked to taste.
For just a moment, then, we were awake
To possibilities lost. For god's sake,
Our love was innocent, our lust was chaste.

Please don't remember how it all fell out,
How you and I then learned to disagree
About hors d'oeuvres and silver cutlery,
Or how I never came to grips with gout.
You were still beautiful, but I grew stout,
And you no longer could be seen with me.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


If even one word doesn't sound like talk,
If one half-syllable is not quite right,
What have you got, exactly? Something slight,
Maybe a greeting card, the kind they stock
For grandma's birthday. You've got writer's block?
Stop writing! Eat a peach, sit through a night
And think things over. Sometimes it's a fight
To make it poetry. There is no clock –

Although there is, or damn well ought to be,
Some rhythm, some suggestion of the heart
That pumps, wings beating, the pounding of the sea
Against the shore, of something counting time
To keep each singular event apart,
To make it poetry. And it could rhyme.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

My Past Lives

When I was living in a bronze spittoon
I had no friends, although my cousin Zee
Would sometimes – rarely – have a drink with me
To celebrate, or drown our sorrows. Soon
Those visits ended, too: one afternoon
The postman's golden lab went on a spree
And bit my cousin just above the knee,
So Zee turned round and whacked me with a spoon.

Since then, although not injured, I was sore,
The incident left me afraid of knives,
I've gone through four bad jobs and three good wives,
And any mention of the Trojan War
Gives me conniptions. What is all this for?
I never was a soldier, in past lives.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Nor Be Afraid

I treasure all the bullets in my chest,
Each little one a precious child to me.
Our time together speeds relentlessly
Towards a lonely ending, all our zest
Dissolving in a moment's passage, stressed,
Impaired by reference to poetry
Instead of truth. An idiot could see
I'm desperate, dysfunctional, depressed.

The bleeding won't impress you, if you're smart.
My attitude is: nothing to forgive,
Not even when my skin is like a sieve
And there are bullets lodged inside my heart.
These are my children. We shall never part,
Nor be afraid, as long as I shall live.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


The average wage-earner commands much less
Than what he needs. Political concerns
Don't interest him at all, since what he earns
Means all his time is spent on business.
He knows the price of gasoline, the mess
His car makes of the air, the oil that burns,
The pay deducted for his tax returns,
But Economics? Anybody's guess.

When someone talks about the "working poor,"
He knows he isn't that. He has a car,
A house, a dishwasher, he took a tour
Of France one year. The poor don't visit France.
But he's not quite sure where his savings are,
And he knows every day's a game of chance.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

And Thumped Him on the Head (2/2/06)

It finally happened to me today:
A woman, sitting near me on the bus,
Stood up and offered me her seat – no fuss,
No bother – noticing my hair was grey,
She stood and smiled, and I was forced to say,
"No, I'm not old enough." I didn't cuss,
I didn't cover up to hide a truss –
But, damn, I'm only fifty-two, okay?

Today is my wife's birthday, but I'm old.
We spoke this morning, looking at her hair:
Three single strands are white, which, if you stare,
You might or might not find. I'm feeling cold,
The whisper of a ghost story that's told
About a middle-aged man in a chair.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


If twelve or thirteen of your smart retorts
Were not enough to justify my fear,
You raised your hand towards me. It was clear
That it would come to violence. The courts
Take a dim view of your version of sports,
Where all the action takes place round my ear
And temples. Contrary to what you hear,
Juries don't flinch every time a judge snorts.

Injustice isn't just a word to you,
It is a way of life, however sad
And lonesome, something neither good nor bad,
But brutal and inept. You want a clue:
You live too freely by your wits, too few
To make a good life for yourself. Too bad.