Sonnets

I write sonnets to hold myself together.

Month: October, 2014

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol. 1 #27

Context — Dream about the diverse wonder of our little dirt ball.

27.
“I think you’ve mixed up your geography.
You’re thinking of the hats that farmers wear
to plant their rice beside the great Yangtze.
Instead, I’m from a place where morning prayer
is routine, so the bells we hear at school
repeatedly remind me that I miss
the modern beat and warmth of Istanbul.”
While listening to Abu reminisce,
young Stella squirmed at being proven wrong,
she hoped she hadn’t bungled this first chance
by thinking Abu’s heritage Hong Kong.
“Apologies! I’m sorry. Would perchance
forgiveness be in store?” the girl replied,
“I thought you perked when she said ‘worldwide.’”

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Respectful disagreement with the chorus

Context — It is pleasing that so many voices are trying to work out The Good Life.

 

A Rolling Stone says live to truly rock,
GQ attests that life’s pursuit is class,
the pastor asks you shepherd family flock
as Jesus would with love that’s unsurpassed.
Your teacher says it’s diligence that’s key,
your coach proclaimed that sweat is all that counts,
The Prince would posit ruthlessness decreed
and rule through power’s how you life surmount.
Our heroes, saints, and stars, our parents, kin,
and friends and guides and authors’ deadened prints
proclaim the good life’s reachable therein,
if we’re to acts advice they give imprint.
With chorus’ clamor voice here disagrees:
go follow none. Just BE authentically.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol. 1 #26

Context — Cross-cultural understanding + social awkwardness.

 

26.
“Hello, my friend!” our heroine called when
the bells to end their class began to ring.
“Are you from China? Near Tiananmen?
I hear these days we’ve migrants from Peking.”
Abu was startled thrice. The first word, “friend”
had not been said to him since he arrived,
and now to hear so leisurely intend
relationship struck him as quite contrived.
A second startle struck when question mark
was used in Stella’s sentence said to him,
as once from plane his family disembarked
he hadn’t once been asked his thought or whim.
The final startle was, at core she meant
Abu appeared to come from Orient!

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol. 1 #25

Context — Stella wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the speech.

 

25.
delighted Stella, grinning ear to ear
as if she’d heard the words she’d waited for,
who scanned the room to find the most sincere
expression matching hers, on boy ignored
in previous encounters. He was new.
He wore a fez above his eyes afire,
known only by his first name, this Abu,
whom after which not one had once inquired.
Abu looked up at Stella as if asked
the moment Stella looked across at him,
their interest thus at once to both unmasked,
and yet the thought of friendship remained dim.
The hint of interest in the world at large,
plus BLING, empowered Stella to take charge.

Material, companion, blueprint

Context: Raw materials alone do not a building make.

 

From binge to purge to living far away,
and coming home, reflecting on my deeds,
in time I’ve moved beyond naiveté
about beliefs and habits, tastes and creeds.
Proclivities thus understood, I think,
brings rebar, lumber, glass to vacant lot
where life I’ll build with these joys interlinked
will weather fires and floods that life will plot.
Materials are key, but incomplete:
I lack a way to architect the blocks
because my future visions all compete
despite each one perfection in its stock.
A dozen lives of good could manifest–
what’s built depends on who I brook as guest.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol 1. #24

Context — Teacher Gumi’s speech continues.

 

24.
in which your family makes its home. Your birth
was likely under roof you now repair.
Go forth! Uncover each of your own worth
discovering the world. Become aware
of who and what your neighbors are, and why
they act one way and you just find it strange.
Our cultures differ, Paris and Shanghai
could never prosper if both rearranged
their streets and people, let alone swapped out
entire populations, one for one.
There is no guiding road or central route,
you’ll never know you’re done, or lost, or won.
I know you’re young, your vigor and your vim
should guide you.” Silence fell. Her passioned hymn

Even the happy man searches out his own discontent

Context — Yesterday I wrote about one episode of a persistent searching behavior I couldn’t seem to understand. It spans other parts of my life.

 

I angered at myself when browsing lists
of properties as yesterday described,
and knew not how contentment coexists
in mind with want to greener grass imbibe.
In vein alike, I woke from stupor as
I looked at other job descriptions, not
the man who’s thankful with all that he has,
but rather whose decisions ever-fraught.
Confused I sat, reflecting why lust’s eyes
ranged far into these lives I did not lead,
when daily way I did was optimized
for joy within my means, nigh guaranteed.
The life not lived can cloy the strongest mind
to thinking lot he has wrongly unkind.

Only the rich can afford not to own cars

Context — I’m thankful that this is not the story of the rest of America.

 

With tea light lit beside my bedside glass,
I stay awake to browse the infinite
shown property on Zillow, upper class
have only wallets not too thin. Sin writ
against, it seems, old dreams American,
where few years’ earnings at the going rate
suffice for one downpayment, shared with kin
on place to quick become a home estate.
Our Bay has taken off to an extreme
with Gini inequality from tech
the prices charged for housing stomp the dream
of ownership, unless you’re an exec.
I love the growth their wealth to us has brung
but hate the housing noose on which we’re hung.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol 1. #23

Context — Where does our world stretch to?

 

23.
“Our world,” she said, “is vast and stretches past
the farms and fields known by you and yours,
we’ve seen on maps that, though we’re unsurpassed
in resources, there’s places like Azores
which, held by Portugal but partly free
are rich in beauty rather than in stone,
and so to show you global potpourri
I’ve asked the library to put on loan
this globe, to us. An aid to educate
the Tanzanian future pioneers
of veld and forest, Asia, Europe, Strait
of Hormuz, inland seas and sands, Algiers,
I care not where you end your journeys, but
implore you venture far away from hut

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol 1. #22

Context — I was fascinated by globes as a kid.

 

22.
in posture, eyebrow, spirit, tone and word,
because Miss Gumi never had before
in such a forward way to them inferred
that something good indeed was soon in store.
As guesses slowly quieted and lull
swept through the classroom, none had spoken right,
the boys maintaining box contained a skull,
the girls aligned in hope against that wight.
Instead, revealed with flourish and a smile
Miss Gumi held a ball of deft design,
its intricate lined borders scaled to miles,
its dotted streak displaying day’s date line.
In history the class had never owned
a globe, our world diminutively cloned.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol 1. #21

Context — The story resumes.

21.
Geography commenced at ten to twelve,
the four bells rang to start the student race
to class, all knew they had short time to shelve
their books and book it to their classroom place.
“Good morning students,” customarily
announced Miss Gumi, tall before the boys
and girls. They stood up and all wearily
announced, “Good morning, Teacher,” standard noise
in classrooms urban, rural, country-wide,
the greeting drilled afront a sea of desks.
She raised a box aloft, class stunned, she tried
solicit guesses, standing statuesque:
“What do you think arrived to class today?”
Exams? Some textbooks? Eagerness displayed

Identity is so easily decomposed

Context — The simplified Olympic rings of me.

 

As kid I thought no separation kept
myself from all the universe that served
me. Individuation slowly crept
to psyche as I wider world observed.
Upon reflection now at thirty, Venn
describes identity and concept of:
I’m overlapping circles, self is when
my stories, skills, and habits mosh and shove
each other in the center of the chart.
Why? I am who I tell myself to be,
my body’s limits anchor me apart,
my routines yesterday’s–fait accompli.
I’ll reinvent myself, these mental wings
all stem from view of self as triad rings.

A seance for my grandmother

Context — I never learned as much from my ancestors as I should have. At this life stage, it’s making me wish I’d known how to do that better.

I knew no way in which I’d ever walk
down paths that those before me here have tread,
thought words they shared halfwitted poppycock
accrued by minds who’ve lesser lives here led.
Myopia and utter hubris were
Achilles’ heel while growing up, and now
I’ve lost so many joys to what recurs
from failing to have learned lessons endowed.
Exuberance at bushwhacking own trail
has waned, exertion heavy to the bone,
as age begun on body to detail
and threatens to leave me two score, alone.
With wand I’d wish to summon parents past,
soliciting their wisdom life’s amassed.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol 1. #20

Context — For those unsatisfied to sit, nature can be a most attractive alternative to school.

 

20.
The morning fog deterring not a whit,
our Stella marched to school with pup in pack,
her fear the day too short to simply sit,
that boredom soon would creep in and hijack
her honest wish she’d learn a thing worthwhile
for spending hours and days and weeks in class,
so that in wilderness her versatile
and adroit skill would serve her. Rather, mass
and density, historic dates, and facts
all failed to boost her instinct to survive.
“This memorizing,” she said, “just distracts
me from the things that make me feel alive.”
That day two things would happen unforeseen:
she’d meet one friend and start a lifetime dream.

An Ode: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2K14

Context — Thanks to [Warren] Hellmann’s mayonnaise, San Francisco has a 3-day, 7-stage free bluegrass festival every year. Thanks to serendipity, I ran across a college friend in the grocery eight months ago who was kind enough to invite me into her and her friends’ tradition to set up by the Banjo Stage.

A dawn patrol, or Alpine Crew, it’s called
woke early, packed the tarps and blankets, ice
aplenty in the cooler, then installed
them in parquet near banjo paradise.
The sun stayed ‘low the treeline ’till round ten,
burritos gorged and frisbees fled the scene,
retired as we welcomed friend and kin
to watch Time Jumpers, Dave Rawlings Machine
and Saint Paul & The Broken Bones put on
a show that Freddy Mercury’d be keen
to stage, its verve exploding vocal bombs
that harmed none’s exoskeleton sunscreen.
Tradition opened thanks to new comrades:
a better Saturday could not be had.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol 1. #19

Context — Days can feel colored.

 

19.
Were Tuesday yellow, Wednesday would be gray,
the color heralded and feared of fog,
which nautically could house a harbor quay
with warmth and safety, markets, bars and grog,
or equally lead captains from landfall
back out to waters deep and pulsing storm
that threaten vessels’ safety. Stand a squall
and folks invent and spread new lore, transform
your reputation from mere amateur
into adventurer, the tested lot
whose weathering stripped off the immature,
who’s earned the title scripted on his yacht.
Respect, however, comes not quick nor free,
so Stella soon would face these trials at sea.

Your shiny tools contract my pupils and vision

Context — Envy is motivating. Envy is demotivating.

 

How often I did lounge in corner dark
while viewing boisterous silver tongues hold court
amid a leaned-in crowd hung on remarks
of wit or gossip, treasure, or disport.
I looked across those rooms with jealous eyes
below my mask of softened face, a glaze
to hide green envy grown to agonize
my mind tomorrow, molding more malaise.
And others still had qualities I found
improved upon mine own in measures great.
The thing I never noticed when spellbound
was how they altogether aggregate:
I’d judged their single tools of better grade,
forgot full toolbox has one tool outplayed.

Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol 1. #18

Context — Honey honey honey honey honey makes me think of the warm memories of childhood Winnie the Pooh.

She bounded off through palm and soursop,
saliva massing, thoughts of sweetness soon
expected. She now calmly mused, “Our crop
today exceeds the paltry picayune
we’d get for dinner if we’d shown up late!”
Just then she spotted BLING ahead, with prize
aloft in jaws, its dripping gold flow rate
enough to dilate Stella’s hungry eyes.
A further jaunt to distance from bee guards,
they found themselves atop a precipice,
each stuffing face with honeycomb’s goo shards,
the sugar jolt and sunset bringing bliss.
A yellow day: the honey, stains and sun
were just a taste of their yet-unplanned fun.

Expectations make roads, nobody says you can tread on grass

Context — Quell fear with a rebranded view of the track you’ve been set upon.

You’re born and you become the object of
two overwhelmed adults who’ve sacrificed
their social lives and duties. You’re above
the all of their past selves that they’ve repriced.
And then the race begins: the race to speak,
the race to crawl, the race to walk, the race
to talk, the race of smarts and of physique,
a path dependency that’s you encased.
To view each step as moving towards a goal,
advancing also further from liked paths,
in fear that all your choices are controlled
by choices past is fearful, faulty math.
Days’ supernova possibilities
digested can themselves will your mind free.

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