Posts Tagged ‘sonnet’

Sonnet for an Absent Spouse

I almost wrote “an empty house,” but it isn’t, still three of four

on site: Son and dog and me. In your absence, I chauffer Son

and walk the dog. I text “I miss you.” Is that the vodka (80 or more?

calories) talking? Or maybe it’s the delicious and necessary wine

(5 ounces Merlot = 120 calories) that makes my thumbs light.

When I miss you, I drink whiskey (110 calories), I let Son spend more

time watching “Firefly” on his computer to avoid the nightly fight.

I imagine expensive additions to our home: a deck, French doors

opening off our master bedroom and into the backyard, fertile

with rosemary,  tomatoes, chard, sunflowers and orange poppies.

When you are gone, I am uncharacteristically morose. I while

the hours away reading actuary charts which forecast our untimely

demise. It’s not wise, the way I spend my time. Wait: that’s a lie.

I imagine the hours we’ll spend, sipping wine, until we die.


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Delaware, I’m not going to lie: we have nothing

in common. I’m mountainous and you, you

barely keep your nose above water. Highest

point: 450 feet. That’s not even a baguette

in the road. But I like your name. “What did Della wear?”

Or, truthfully, the name of an English Baron,

De La Warr. You were the first: first to ratify

the Constitution. First to become a state,

December 7, 1787. But Delaware, we have never

intermingled. I thought I had driven through you,

but I was mistaken in that, as in so many things.

Delaware, let’s make a pact, to become better

acquaintanced. We both love potatoes.  I’m going

Right now to get some tangy Boardwalk fries.

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Her buildings flow like water, look like skin —

compared by viewers, by critics, men, to female

anatomy. She needed all her wits, her intuition,

a new geometry, to open up spaces the male

architects never saw, could never fully imagine,

the spaces natural shapes freed from air, 

rooms she could construct with her vision

and concrete and steel. Critics claim she

was a “diva” that she only wanted to build

a house that no one could live in, voluptuous,

wild, a room with no corners. Zaha Hadid–

“starchitect”– visionary– tyrant– genius–

I see the curves of intersecting angles, dreams

caught in spaces made of glass.

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Letter to Poetry

Dear poetry, why so elusive? Like a dragonfly,

blown away by a tornado or a quail that runs away,

not that quickly, into the bushes. That’s how poetry

is, snake-like, more venomous than cuddly,

something I go out to mine, a hard nugget

of turquoise, but then avoid, a sudden

thunderstorm. Honestly, sometimes it

sends me inside. I want to stay hidden

Maybe under the covers. I like to nap.

But poetry doesn’t wait, it enters your dream

like an ex-lover, disguised in a mask and cap,

still wanting to stab you. Is that how it seems?

Sometimes, even in a dream, you have to expose

your skin to the knife, you have to surrender first,

you have to understand the pain. Poetry knows

what you crave, like a riverbed asking for thirst.

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We told her she was adopted, held her

blankie out the second story window. We

made her cry. We told her we were

going to play detectives, and she

had to be the secretary. We made

her eat mud, or at least we tried. She

climbed up the silo while we played.

She must have been only three.

Someone had to go get Dad. I

remember her up there, the sun

making her body one small dark line.

She was the youngest one.

Not matter how old you are, we told her,

year after year, you will always be younger.

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I failed a drug test at my job. I

let down my dad. I started to use

drugs. I hated life, I hated my

father. I had nothing to lose.

I didn’t get into art school. I never

finished anything. I used him

as an excuse. No one better.

I let down my guard, the first sin.

He hurt me, and I used drugs

and crashed. I let him down.

I finished the bottle in three slugs;

I drank and drank, gained fifty pounds.

My father died and

I let him down.

(Poem inspired by an assignment I gave in class for students to write about their failures)

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Remember that poem I wrote a few days ago

when I said I aspired to harmony? That I want

to understand how evil and justice co-

exist? I lied. I don’t want to understand. I can’t.

Instead, I want to see the extreme

green of Pacific water, I want to feel

the wave sweep over me, pull me

under, spit me out again. I want to feel

the panic of the nearly drowned,

the first breath of one who went under

and came up again, one who was down

and when she came to in the sun

all at once, could suddenly perceive

in the tidal wave of chaos, a tiny grain of peace.

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Cat’s on the Roof

My favorite joke ends with the line, “Mom is up on the roof.”

Earlier, a man asks his brother how to tell a friend that his cat

died. “Break it gently,” he says, advice which tells us how to do

so many things: dump a lover, crack an egg, tell a student that

he’s failing. But there aren’t enough roofs for all the tragedies

that befall us, all the ways the universe thwarts what we want,

substituting instead  what fate ordains should be.

Meanwhile, back in the joke, the brothers still can’t

deal with death. No surprise that my favorite joke has a death

wish: I’m obsessed with it. Daily, fear of death stalks me,

a stealthy cat, pouncing with claws out, or tamely rubbing against

me. In the mundane acts of life, we’re assaulted by profundity.

The punch line is: all of us will die. The joke, in this regard, is true.

The trick is how to get the body off the roof.

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Remember when we listened to No Need to Argue?

You closed your eyes and hummed along. You

took me to that bar and held my hand. Now

I can’t be with you I can’t even listen–how

could I hear her voice and not think of your hair

twisted in my fingers, smell of cloves, I didn’t care

that you hung up on me, the way you threw me out

of your apartment. I can’t control these ridiculous thoughts

can only regret everything you said, everything I said,

everything we ever did or believed, the steak, the red

wine, spilled on the floor, like blood, like knowledge

of the past, what I understood as we neared the edge

of what we could become. You stood, naked, between

him and me. I didn’t know then what it would mean. 

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Are you hot, like noon on the Fourth of July?

Yes, but less harsh, and you don’t make me sweat as much.

A lot of times it gets really breezy in May,

And even though summer is hot, we want it to last longer?

Other times, summer is just way too hot, like

When the sun shine directly on us and we get sunburned?

And even though others are hot now, they might not be so hot

later, because of age, or wrinkles, or maybe some kind of accident?

But your hotness is not going to get milder, 

The way really hot salsa does after you drink a beer.

And you are not going to die like an exploded star

Not when I’m trying so hard to use words to describe your heat

               Because as long as we have oxygen and people can read

               There will be this poem and you and your hotness in it.





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