I write sonnets to hold myself together.

Tag: family

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.

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.

The Chorus’ hand makes queen its pawns

Context — When real life in retrospect is always a palpably identifiable human story, why do we pretend there aren’t narratives to our single days?


The elderly retell childhood with ease,
their flings, dates, jobs, moves, best shenanigans.
They tell us time moves quickly as it please,
past want to set when things began. Akin
to Fates they wrote about in ancient Greece,
who hidden from protagonist would sing
for audience mercurial caprice
that they delightfully each act would bring.
As grandpa sits reflecting decades gone,
his story Everyman’s, it’s hard to think
that some believe that people aren’t but pawns
aboard prodigious board, where Fates’ hands clink
a piece from checkered black to white to black
as bade by shifting cosmic almanac.

Gifts of Thirty: Option 1

Context — Someone wonderful turned 30 last year. I described my gift in 5 sonnets, released over the course of this week. #2 of 5


The first is a pursuit of family:
a liberated week in which we both
fly to a spot where I’m the inductee
who meets and greets whom you’ve to date been loath
to introduce me to. You’d get to see
the people whom you hold so near and dear
in time and place where their improved esprit
would, over recent heartache, domineer.
Location, certainly, would be your choice
though now I’d think an Arizona or
Chicago sojourn best for such rejoice.
I’d see firsthand your mirth as we explore
the bridges where your family divides
and places in your heart where it resides.

Harold the child does things alliteratively

Context — Once when sauced I had this vision of a kid leaving a kitchen in ruins on his ascent up towards a shortbread cookie. For some reason, I only wanted to alliterate.


As harrowed Harold held the handle high
his eyes surmised the prize that size disguised,
sublimely seated sweet of shortbread, spied
in droves, the groves of garlic cloves surprised
him in their quantity, as wanting, he
rethought approach that broached their stinky moat
and bent in bow his bones to boost body
to altitude where gal nor dude would note.
For Harold was but two, but barreled through
the kitchen, kitsch in cabinetry, cobs
in mold to mold for guests Midwest amused,
its heights’ alight delight unreached left sobs.
For all was right when hand seeks sugar held–
addiction amplified that age can’t quell.

Thanksgiving Oolong Divination

Context — One Thanksgiving we tried to divine our futures using tea leaves. Sonnet 29, 11/26/09


When Giving Thanks, tradition to the wind!
A gathering of family from afar
surrounded saucer, cameras and grins
alight as tea is spooned to cup from jar.
The zodiac is banded ’round the rim
inside the teacup, fortunes each have space
that’s told when design is obscured, made dim
by laggard tea leaves floating off the base.
My christening attempt blacked moon and glove,
tarot holdovers kept for modern sage,
which foretold lack of passion, worthless love
and search for justice–challenge of my age.
Enjoying thoughts steeped in this platitude,
we’ve jumbled hopes and fears with gratitude.

Answer the day’s call

Context — my mother always used to be my backup alarm clock, bless her. Shouldering that for myself is hard enough, I don’t know how parents do it for two or four or twelve.


The monotone alarm beep ancient as
the recollections of Decembers in
which quilt at desert dawn was Alcatraz,
entrapping me sans boat or oar or fin.
In youth back then, I’d backup parachute–
the knowledge that, if will were failing, mom
would open door and like chimera boot
me out of bed toward kitchen with aplomb.
Alas, those days of secondary care
have faded, leaving me and discipline
alone with blanch-gray fog that oft ensnares
resolve, to favor jersey’s bliss on skin.
You sadden, Age! Responsibility
migrated waking’s mantle onto me.

Love Quest Colorado

Context — my best mate from college, to whom I owe far more than a single sonnet, realized when we were in China that his love was elsewhere. We were delighted that he left to live with her family in Colorado, earn room and board by helping out around the house, and get her back. Written 1 October 2009, sonnet 13.


John, once cardinally confused,
misplaced the place that California goes
and, leaving every friend bemused,
drove eastward, eastward, climbing rows
of mountains piling high: the Rockies,
to lend a hand in house and work,
where autumn falls and snow soon jockeys
for the ground. And in exchange, the perk
was warmth of home and hearth, the glow
of doing things by hand, creating
a permanence anew. Her beau
so close! Indeed, she tired of waiting.
Kira, patient, would take him back
and fill for both what both had lacked.

The days we stopped fighting

Context – We used to have family reunions in Myrtle Beach when I was young, thanks to the generosity of my grandfather Art. Every year under the direction of my uncle our ankle-biting hordes would spend the entire day building a giant sandcastle. I wrote this in the Houston airport on my way to grandpa’s funeral.


The scorching sun shone southern rays on sand,
surrounding surf susurrous, seagull shriek
reminding runt-sized engineers that land
in castles oceanside’s forever weak.
Rambunctiousness and sunscreen. Teamwork. Juice.
Each plastic pail scavenged from the seas.
From sunrise war for only lunch would truce,
while stalwarts stayed to style their filigrees.
Its summer arc shorn by umbrella’s shade,
the sun surveyed our juvenile hive.
Approving from the seat beneath, Art’s grayed
hair topped a daylong grin: he liked our drive.
For evanescent unity and glee
of child delight, thanks Art for memory.

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