Sonnets

I write sonnets to hold myself together.

Tag: America

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.

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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.

Carrying capacity looms nigh, pioneer perspectives course deep

Context — Older generations give us wisdom based on the worlds they grew up in. The pace of change is accelerating. At some point, those perspectives passed on with love to protect us in a scary world become antiquated. But only if everybody changes at once.

 

The problem’s expectations, set by us
revealed with time and wisdom to fall short
of anything but fabricated fuss
created by the elders to escort
decisions young folks made towards lives like theirs–
the Greatest Generation’s–thinking cash
accrual’s goal. Naivete prepares
us swallow lessons, age, same pith rehash.
And so me-first and jockeying grew to
perspectives dominating culture, where
economy’s complexities force you
to hoard, fear loss, distrust, and rank-compare.
With limits presaged on this greed we’ve farmed
rethink these dated memes and let’s disarm.

Finally, I understand tattoos

Context — We all look to certain symbols to enhance our lives.

 

I’ve hung around my neck symbolic love
of those who love me in return, and looped
two anklets black and white constructed of
the prison threads of dissidents Han swooped
away from protests in Tibet. But thread
disintegrates with time, and both decayed.
I used to look to them for what they said
about the need to evil disobey.
Without a body token to remind
I’ve in me smoldering small charcoal rage
to make the world’s injustice partly mine
I waste the limelight’s burn on life’s broad stage.
A pocketful of fury lights the way
to make tomorrow transcend yesterday.

Community can be felt silently

Context — It is too easy to judge people who cannot interact with us in the way we are accustomed to being interacted with.

 

I’ve four years stretched across the spheroid earth,
my gravity one year quite upside-down
from where my feet had laid in prior’s berth
of too-hot foam in country shantytown.
My days dilate proportionate to grasp
of conversations flung at me. When tongues
unknown share thoughts, I’d naught on which to clasp,
and so deflate my eager, well-primed lungs.
Abroad, as here, one’s known by mask he takes,
gregarious, reserved, or place betwixt,
while anonymity emasculates
the man who under label is affixed.
May all encountering the foreign know
beneath their silence burns familiar glow.

Rich brown, rich blue

Context — August highway desert dreams.

 

The straight-line gray with yellow racing stripe
extends from tire to edge horizon view,
with buttes like pioneers’ wide ferrotype
and endless skies of southwest Xanadu.
A Belgium distance left of desert weave
before arriving at next port of call,
heat shimmers try to make you disbelieve
you glide on dehydrated fireball.
With cirrus streaks at 12 clicks off the ground
to beckon nimbostratus thunderhead
you know a monsoon’s brew will dump earthbound,
saguaros quenched to stand encumbered, fed.
In quiet times closed eyes are commandeered:
eyelids Sonora’s panoramic seared.

Splintering herds

Context — Changing natural patterns disequilibrates.

 

Were prides to fall apart and cubs all stood
alone, their youth would bear calamity.
Were pods to cease existing, dolphins would
be mavericks drifting, stripped of amity.
Were flying V’s transformed to flying slash
with mutiny of members, looking out
for selves, they’d leave a cloudy balderdash
of jet streams vying alternating routes.
Were penguin, fat with blubber, waddle from
the belly warmth of strangers, arctic snow
would pierce his hide until his frame succumbed
to reaper’s natural adagio.
When man departs who reared him and withdraws,
we toast his gutsiness and give applause.

Painted faces

Context — Who doesn’t hide?

 

The painted face of clown a frown conceals,
like insecurities from high school hide
beneath the pancake makeup’s rouge ideal
that blends to blandest blank when misapplied.
The painted face of politician shows
a pearly reassurance, while inside
exposure of his costume’s seams’ poor sews
would spew the toxic stuffing he’d allied.
The painted face of me in settings dense
with people who I’ve never met, smile wide
is channel for anxieties intense,
pretending I’ve no fragile underside.
No matter how we try be genuine,
our daily lives at times make mice of men.

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.

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.

Shard of the reverberating urban story

Context — rural America brain drain.

 

With brain too large to fit her birth’s small town,
her valediction speech marked final part
with Hillsboro, to college from godown
to fill her head while trickled dry her heart.
For four flash years she changed taxonomy:
community from family tree to fern,
its leaves abuzz. What home lacked spawned from glee
at having people everywhere she turned.
Post-second graduation, seasons fell–
a swelling freeze that isolated leaves
in ice. Aloneness housing’s walls impelled,
adulthood youth’s community upheaved.
Her loved ones parted once for brain, and twice
when friends for jobs their tethers sacrificed.

The sprinter is forever out of time

Context — I know a lot of driven people. Time passes quickly for them.

 

High lactic acid’s now become her base,
exertion past the point she recognized.
Her muscle equilibrium’s replaced
rejuvenating oxygen. Disguised
as daily dulling pain, she feels her neck
begin to stiffen, and her head to ache.
Her office now in ergonomics decked,
though yet can’t body’s healthful thirst quite slake.
She knows it not, but others quickly see
she’s running ever-faster in slight curve.
she misperceives as straight and leading to marquee,
her name lit up for colleagues to observe.
In churning, there’s a key thing she forgot
it takes some time to have reflective thought.

Why, neighbors, are we not as a village?

Context — I canceled my Netflix subscription after cavorting with Karl the Fog one evening.

 

He walks with fog, which overtakes him to
then vaporize itself into the night.
They alternate their homonyms blue/blew
and drift past curtains lit with lazulite.
Outside, the street prefers its orange burn
to counteract the water in the mist,
as if lamp hues make pavement taciturn,
‘neath cathode rays layered into curtain schist.
The narrative the night had brought was old,
unaltered since an age Akkadian.
While windows each hold stories tubes unfold
in alpha glows that mock circadian.
Shut from black’s binding commonality,
each life diverged to screen’s reality.

Rediscover the Wild West

Context — I love the southwest and wrote this to invite classmates on a December road trip with me through northern Arizona and southern Utah. Sonnet 28, 11/22/09

 

A land of browns was painted scarlet where
thick dust and rock were worn by water’s course,
six thousand feet of strata shining, bare
the gorgeous gorge from Colorado’s force.
Beside the Canyon flood and sandstone fought
beneath the hooves of hunted Antelope
to shield themselves from surface sun onslaught,
a slotted labyrinth of orange and taupe.
Escaping nature, they carved home from cliff:
the Anasazi “House Under the Rock”
had just one thousand years of life, what if
more words were left to pick history’s lock?
December tenth through seventeenth, succumb
to desert solitaire. You ought to come.

Traffic is the end of the universe

Context — I used to get mild road rage. Then I realized there were only two consistent contributing factors: an endless number of unexpected things that drivers will do, and me. This is about controlling the second. 27th sonnet, written 11/18/09.

 

When those who meet should find themselves apart,
’tis likely that a traffic jam now springs
upon unwitting streets, metallic art
that stops man’s movement, with it anger brings
a melancholy haunting near and far,
a chemical released when all cars cease
that sucks synapses dry of dopamine,
ensuing blueness then doled out on lease
to overactive vocal chords, face green
with rage shot out the window, on the phone,
to vacuum spaces not inclined to hear
of timing troubles, his and his alone.
Though traffic’s cleared, frustration’s cloud yet steers.
It puzzles me, the depth of woe we feel
constructing problems for ourselves, none real.

I pledge allegiance, to the flag…

Context — July 4 is bittersweet for me. It makes me hope that some spark of our collective consciousness plus evolving technology will create real opportunities for the disenfranchised and left behind.

 

America was sweltering. The highs
were low below a hurricane back east.
Cold masked the powder keg, a new Marseilles
fomenting slowly. Folks who owned the least
in wealth and training laggards in the pack,
their pipers’ pleas persuasively scapegoat
officials over systems pierced with cracks,
own IRAs propped up and underwrote
the structures they rebelled against. The rich
create–in their minds, rightly–scaffold for
the fortunate to win, and thus bewitch
those left to public institutions, poor.
My Fourth was tainted by this stark contrast
to celebrate betrayal of the mass.

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