Sonnets

I write sonnets to hold myself together.

Unfree will

Context — We expect much of each other.

 

Perfection was endowed on day of birth,
a canvas sans a single shade or stroke.
Discoveries of childhood left mirth
as sole emotion humanhood unyoked.
The purity was riven when first word
of anger from frustration sliced her ears.
That temperamental outburst overheard
loosed brainstem acid, shame, remorse, and fears.
At once her psyche’s solitude was ceased,
in unlit mental grotto sprouted one
of many goblins yet to be released
who’d taunt her towards what others wanted done.
This bow to crowds’ wants multiplicity’s
corrupting act of all societies.

A morning prayer

Today I wake and wish tranquility
has steeped into my soul from light of stars.
I hope as well that found humility,
sincerity and warmth will thwart all scars.
Today I wish that optimism brings
the energy and focus for to change
the darknesses to which our foibles cling
amidst respect that life is thus arranged.
Today I wake my gratitude the just
hold righteousness and peace in either hand,
my knowledge that with industry we must
seek ever-loving ways to understand.
Today I seek companions of compare
and welcome every help to live this prayer.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol 2, #30

Context — There are many kids of intelligence

 

Linguistic mastery is but one face
of all intelligence a body has.
Its kinesthetic face allows for grace
and tonal face births unexpected jazz,
its numbers side perfected by savants
allows near-instantly computed sums,
its introspective side dissects your wants,
and geospatial side makes true maps’ rhumbs.
As many kinds of smarts exist as lives
are postulated for a cat to hold,
yet placement test would eight of these deny
and simply ask retell what has been told.
Evaluations sadly thus exclude
assessment of the boy’s full aptitude.

Line

Context: Last year at Camp Grounded I met a person named Practice, who shared something like the following.

“Consider this,” he said, “a simple line
can be interpreted so many ways.
I thicken here, you take it as a sign
that object’s in the foreground, ‘fore the haze.
I pinch it here, again sequentially
and pattern you interpret, but it’s just
your mind completing its potential–see
but one unbroken line! The rest is trust.
And so in curves and breaks and strokes we weave
the textures you interpret as set things,
allowing us to alter what’s perceived,
in equal measure for both pawns and kings.
The line, you see, is base that’s oft ignored
when said that pen is mightier than sword.”

Page house

Context — It’s been eight months since I wrote… that should not happen again.

 

The walk was light, as if the light too strolled
through air just warm enough to not exist.
It stopped, like me, when wrapping aureole
round house that styled itself as narcissist.
Victorian in mold, its excess dripped
anachronistically to fairytales
where tophat gentlemen with rabbits quipped,
umbrellas up through chimneys float females.
I shrank, my inattention ebbing age,
the haloed home mushrooming in my mind
as every fancy adulthood encaged
was disentombed by accidental shrine.
In instant salaried me turned covetous–
and reverie soured sepia to pus.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol 2, #57

Context — As brief as East African linguistic history can get.

 

57.
Swahili as a language came about
when local Bantu language family
put sprinkled nouns from Arabic throughout
its lexicon. They fit uncannily
by making simply one new class of nouns
for ported words. It matched in syntax and
in structure what the Bantu spoke. Scale down
the breadth of words a speaker need command
to few, with fewer synonyms–voila!
A language meant for trade, and quick to learn
emerged. And thus those following Allah
could come and talk and trade, go and return.
Their commerce spread the language nationwide,
cohesive grout that unified the tribes.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol 2, #50

Context — Yep, I am here remembering the glee: // iambic rhyming social comment’ry. Rapid progress.

 

50.
Their luggage cinched upon the no-rack roof,
in plaid two-handed plastic bags well known.
For prevalence in region was clear proof
that cheapest way to transport stuff was clone
the one-use bag, then double thickness, and
add zipper strong enough to hold in roots.
That morning, as was typical, the land’s
tremendous produce sat in sacks, the shoots
extending out of twine-rope ties and zips.
The women riding prior to dawn had reaped
what sat in sack to sell. Their roles eclipsed
descriptions statisticians tried to keep
of what is formal work for GDP
and what is household informality.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol 2, #31

Context — Further evidence that Volume 2 is being written. I’m finally getting back into production mode.

31.
Young Abu’s brain plasticity was high
and matched by dread and drive from family’s chat
about today and futures it implied.
He’d seen hand-lettered poster, dirtied matte
hung low beside headmaster’s broken door
so kids could read it. There would be reward
from China’s embassy for s/he who scored
the highest on the test: they’d be offshored
and sent to Middle Kingdom on exchange,
overtly building business ties between
the countries. They were wise to prearrange
such opportunity to make serene
their future interactions. Abu’d rest
not once until exams showed him the best.

Flight at Camp

Context — Reflection from my night of reentry after Camp Grounded.

 

Amongst the redwoods pecked by birds’ red heads
there echoed syncopated knocks. The birds
in cunning chipped from nature new homesteads
in bark, while we tried do the same in words.
We tethered selves to one another, mesh
of social filaments’ complexity
reached Moorish richness as each one afresh
pursued connections not through tech’s debris.
In food, in play, in pause, in awestruck eye,
in touch, in skill, in cuddle puddle’s slack
we each found ways to knotty selves untie,
then salvaged threads, patched spots where mesh had gap.
It strengthened hard, became an aileron
to steer beyond smalltalk’s automaton.

Unconscious doctrinaire paths

Context — On the way down Yosemite’s Four Mile Trail I looked north across the valley toward the greatness of a two thousand foot waterfall. My eyes saw it but my mind was elsewhere. In that visual I realized I’d never intentionally made a choice to try or not try to be a bigwig.

Eight thousand feet from eye to waterfall
quadrupled height the water fell. Yet glaze
preoccupied view with stigmata’s pall.
That darkening concerned my dossier:
I’d spent my school years reading of the greats—
Ashoka, Christ, Mandela, MLK.
That hero-worship soon indoctrinates
desire to rank oneself. It did conflate
inspiring eminence with grounding fact.
And so I grew to systematically
doubt choices made, as each one could detract
from greatness. Pain’s source? Just fanatic me.
Removed from falls, I saw whole close concealed,
thereby revealing own Achilles’ heel.

Pain to pain, dust to dust

Context — Shaking off work at Yosemite, I realized something.

Deep space drowned out my mental static. I
turned modern Tricorder to “off” and went
to nature’s bosom. Post-traumatic, my
gray mass was yet a-warbling discontent.
I tried maintain the vacuum stillness brought,
accentuating bird and hue and view,
yet smallest lapsed attention soon begot
unwitting replay of pasts I’d subdued.
Attention failed to focus reattain
while pounding ever-downward bruised my heel.
My eyes, I swear, saw beautiful domain
yet can’t recall a single slide from reel.
I, concentration on my foot constrained—
in fluke therefore transcended pain with pain.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers: Earth Day edition

Context — It’s Earth Day. Another excerpt from the second volume in honor. Or, at least in lambaste of climate change deniers.

26.
To punctuate the dryness of the sky,
and sate the shriveled souls on plains who prayed,
a single day of storm swept to supply
the creeks with flows enough to ankle-wade.
Deniers on the radio used this
and recency, a bias we all share,
to say that Man’s done naught to shake earth’s bliss
with CO2, those hackneyed doctrinaires.
As rain made waterfall of cloud, Abu
attached his own self-worth to mastery
of syllabus his country’s retinue
of ministers, professors, teachers see
as critical to education for
the youth, new Tanzania’s guarantors.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol. 2 #23

Context — Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers Vol 1 is undergoing illustration. (!) (!!) Annals Volume 2 is being written. Proof excerpt, involving climate change and the youth bulge in east Africa:

23.
The swirling talk was anxious, voiced in haste
by heads perturbed by change the world brought
to them unwelcomed, carbons unreplaced
forced weather patterns locally unsought.
A hundred thousand duplicates–or more–
had had, were having, or would soon have this
fraught conversation of what heretofore
was land without a mass indebtedness.
These echoes nationwide came oft from youth,
whose prevalence was at historic highs,
whose futures would be shaped by said crime’s truth
while villains everywhere such blame disguised.
Such problems of the commons, common are.
But new was their effect so felt afar.

Iridescent incubating skull bubble

Context — A recent Bay immigrant lent me a cap that helped me write. And now I’m 10 sonnets in to Vol 2 of the Annals, and 128 sonnets behind in posting Vol 1.

 

Six weeks since keys on board I’ve sought to peck,
bereft of inspiration so as to
thus merit allocating time. Then fleck
of fiery cosmic trail swept my view:
from farthest port she set her moor strings loose
determined to depart from busy-ness,
relocated where nature/city truce,
renewed her manufactures, fizzy lest
the shift stir up anxiety. That she
in reinvention landed in the Bay
caused me to be the pro tem addressee
of mental-incubating hued crochet.
Thank object forcing rainbows on my skull
for waking pen from three-fortnight-long lull.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol. 2, #Prologue

Context — I haven’t written anything public in a while. I’m working on Volume 2 of Stella’s book right now, while Volume 1’s getting gussied up with beautiful work from a local artist. I’m far (far) from being done with number two, but here’s the first draft of the start, for whistle-whetting.

 

PROLOGUE

I’d once thought elephants just animals,
that is, before we made them to our own,
pretended pogo’s bounce like man, in wool,
made emblem of the Pioneers alone.
We’d earned our Afro title, but not yet
our Asiatic half, so here I’ll give
perspectives from the front lines where quartet
was forged from trio’s sleuthing dividends.
We’d learned from solving Gumi’s mystery
dependence on ourselves when foreignness
from nature, nurture, custom, history,
surrounded. We’d be needing more than this.
I thus present to you the second tome:
of how we left and recreated home.

Stella
September 22, 2037

San Francisco, and probably where you live

Context — Sometimes in the evenings I climb out my window to stand on the roof and survey neighbors’ own faraway glow.

 

I climb through window, soles on roof, erect
and survey night’s illuminations there.
I count the homes that choose to resurrect
the day with backlit LCDs, aware
of hundred ways they might be learning in
their catatonic viewing of a show
or documentary. Still, scene’s akin
to Huxley’s hypnopaedic writ tarot.
They’ve moved here from their far-off place of birth
for jobs and friends of equal intellect,
here clustered ’cause they’ve heard it’s here they’re worth
more dollars. Yet, they’re dense in disconnect,
the automatic neighbor friendship’s farce
as vocal cord-hummed words are ever sparse.

Rocks in my Pockets, a film reaction

Context — An animated film about depression and suicide from a Latvian artist, Rocks in my Pockets, dredged a lot of emotions up. I felt dissatisfied at the end without resolution that felt more real than the feeling I should talk about depression with people to lower the stigma surrounding it.

 

Investigating hurt with public art,
her cartoons’ European darker side
relentlessly depressed, no counterpart
of levity to balance out the ride.
Surprising still, intention hadn’t weaved
a guiding thread through movie exposé,
explaining only that she disbelieved
it’s artist’s role to us disclose her sway.
Rejecting ways of treatment socially
and pharmaceutically, she left me not
one method to direct tableau fully
towards bettering depressions that I spot.
Discuss, she said, but never then supplied
paths past enumerated suicide.

Us, if known nothingness

Context — If sunset ended the universe, how might we fill today?

 

With neither rapture nor apocalypse,
tomorrow simply ceased to hither come:
we knew precisely twelve o’clock eclipsed
our world back to interstellar mum.
Work stopped without a future left to serve.
In instants, life lost sense of scarcity.
All peoples said their peace, left naught reserved.
Folks cleansed themselves with prayer, errs set free.
Most lacking time to travel out to where
their loved ones dwelled in distant places, they
sought solace from their neighbors, offered care
of human warmth they’d let days’ grind decay.
It took catastrophe to strip facade
so each treats each as delegate of god.

Hairline mirror crack

Context — The instant age internalizes.

 

I’ve had a widow’s peak since I was wee,
which starting in my late teen years dropped curls.
Their whimsicality bound part of me,
and seemed to somehow also lure the girls.
I graduated, cut it short, as though
professional despite my internship,
not knowing status searches I’d outgrow
and pace of life would from discernment slip.
For now, at thirty, Christmas Eve, I fear
my hairline’s higher than it was as child
and hearing confirmation brings me near
to tears that aging’s here, unreconciled.
Life rudderless, I’m hardly more prepared
for adulthood’s pained age than when wee, haired.

Ticker tape loops about my neck

Context — Time slips these days.

 

A tick, a tock, an hour, a day, the clock
proceeds, punctilious, precise,
forever filling, never overstocked
through circularity of dial’s device.
Yet inexhaustible rotations wheel
around the watch face numbers’ dozen ticks
each passing promising some fate revealed
while nailing guilts to mind-made crucifix.
For every day that passes leaves the next
its escalating burdens left undone,
so solemn, lifelong problems still perplex
through seasons played on analog rerun.
Cathartically I’d face accrued rue’s vault
had I the clout to call time grind to halt.

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