I write sonnets to hold myself together.

Tag: helplessness

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.

Gray rhythms unjustified

Context — It’s winter.


My daily life won’t anger me to fumes.
I’m traffic-immunized, at work I’m thanked,
with modest budget can most things consume,
not bound by orthodoxies sacrosanct.
So how then can I justify the trough
I go through when the planets line up wrong?
Affecting all, these doldrums’ throes strip off
quotidian sheen gratefulness, prolong
tectonic grinding gray ambivalence
that every day throws modest glimmers of,
but when of sound mind dam with commonsense,
the knowledge life deserves no dimmer love.
In weeks when mindful light’s gone dark, the gray
dissolves the prided parts of me away.

The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis response

Context — I liked this Atlantic article on The Real Roots of Midlife Crisis, and felt compelled to summarize it.


Atlantic’s foremost feature topped sidebar,
called “Real Roots of Midlife Crisis.” I
was hooked by its assertion’s life’s subpar
when plans from decades past are torn awry.
Our happiness declines from twenty to
age forty-five at rate one-third strength of
involuntary unemployment. View
of life recovers, wisdom lengthens love
and comfort with uncertainty, sangfroid,
and tolerance, thus incubating joy
beyond the mental hooks on which hang flaws
for daily motivation we’ve employed.
High time prepare against despondent nerves:
at thirty, I’m declining down u-curve.

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.

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.

Knowing not which mountain until crisis

Context — We climb the same mountains relentlessly and blindfolded.


I’m stranded on a cliff sans bivouac,
its pockmarked cleft unrecognized, although
I’ve trapped me here before: amnesiac
to past divined solutions apropos.
The cliff of stilted speech, the cliff of stress,
the anxious cliff, and cliff oblivious
stand geologic time, their routes outguess
ascent attempts. They think me pity, thus
presenting selves identically as problems time
and time again. Why must ability
to know I’m back in broken paradigm
lag so behind? Each time futility.
Why must my speed of self-improvement be
so limited to problems I’ve perceived?

Standing upright under a newfound doubled gravity

Context — we grow into each other, like topiaries into their molding.


He knew himself as simply part of her.
She knew herself as simply part of him.
Extenuating circumstance recurred
until their intertwining lights went dim.
She turned to ritual to fill the gap.
He turned to cigarettes and whisky glass.
Identity to both was still entrapped,
assimilated parts of joint morass.
The watch dial’s turn brought purgatory pain
laced hourly with monsoon rush of doubt,
uncertainty as selves they’d overlain
the things interred they’d once seen other sprout.
In time’s avoidance dance they tipped and tapped,
and fell. And fell again, limb with crutch snapped.

The days in which I am an ice core

Context — Some days are just different.


Today I’m flypaper without its stick,
attracting all the ice without recourse,
I’m tiny trace of apple arsenic
in skin beside the sugar flesh, perforce.
Today I’m penguin puffed into balloon
who’s waddling away from warmth of peers.
I’m unassailable silken cocoon
that guards as soul itself reengineers.
Today I’m frozen like a fish filet
left ugly when it thawed and then re-iced.
I’m holy wall with cracks from root decay,
chipped barrier to endless poltergeists.
Today I woke up cold inside but sought
not single pleasure heat could me have brought.

Go, solve the problem of bars

Context — the share of people who have the social skills to navigate bars and pick people up is small. Yet bars persist as a dating venue out of the hope that some day, those of us without will somehow strike it lucky. Here’s a proposal to shortcircuit patience.


A problem that we’ve yet to fix is this:
at bars, the boys and girls in circles chase,
yet few possess the charm and steadiness
to launch themselves at strangers. Commonplace
is groups that came together shutting out
all others, yet at same time survey prey.
“Brah, go and get her,” goading goes, knockout
demurely sitting not so far away.
Imagine if one charmer there was brought,
employed to mix the people, did what our
denominators’ common lows do not
and matched you using social superpower.
Two people, one suggestive starter noun
and watch connection barriers come down.

I, the Great and Powerful Chihuahua, Am Lord of All Things!

Context — Pure emotion poured out of a chihuahua outside of Haight Street Market on a Saturday morning.


She gets the thing. The thing! The THING! Let’s go!
It’s been four naps since sunrise and I’m AMPED.
I wonder who left messages? I know
there must be one from squirrelly cat that’s camped
beneath the biggest tree past third left turn.
There must. The THING! It’s here, we’re out the door.
Now SPRINT. Let’s–BLAGH, it chokes! Her glare’s so stern.
She’s got the treats, but’s dumb like cats. It’s war
to mark, possessing all! It’s piss poo tag,
and she’ stopped ZERO times to pop a squat!
I feel my heinie’s quaking, tail wag
the bestmostpowerfulleststrong I got.
But wait! Store? No. Don’t leash me here alone!
The quaking’s now bone fear of being disowned.


Context — I was once concerned that someone lacked a halo after moving between some odd places. Written some winters ago.


The kidney of a caribou is ripe
when made in Inuvik, but nowhere else,
an Arctic try at replicating tripe
as raw as raw can be without its pelts.
Kannapolis, from Canada, appears
red, white and blue at least, but suffers from
its Southern clime, a backwardness that nears
an incapacitation, deaf and dumb.
To boot, I hear from Dale Earnhardt Way
that solace isn’t had at home or work,
as you weren’t choosing where it was you’d stay
so, housed with boss, you’re bound to go berserk.
Such news brought worried furrow to my brow,
as if to ask: “I know it’s gone–but how?”

In a desert

Context — I used to be really bad at writing sonnets. I recently discovered this when looking through the earliest ones that I have record of. It took me until my eleventh (below) to say something at least mildly interesting, and even in this one (unedited) I’ve completely forgotten the right number of syllables and proper meter. Written 17 September 2009, and shared only so that you know what to do if your plane ever crash lands in the desert.


If in a desert you should find
yourself and six or seven friends
stranded with a sun unkind,
and want to avoid bitter ends
make sure you take a single mirror
as salvage from the accident,
bajillions candlepower clearer,
will be your signals, just like print
to passing search planes overhead
wanting to spy your folded ‘chute
and you curled on your topcoat beds
become survivors of repute.
Ah! Confidence, and expertise,
are both confused with too much ease.

Reverie the sole emolument

Context — everyone has dreams; some for themselves, some for their country, some for expression that can’t exist until they make it.


A boy on Santa’s now-warm lap invokes
with wonder hope he’ll be an astronaut.
Each tree-ward look another dream provokes
embodied soon in ship that Hasbro brought.
A girl freezes as gazelle, the voice
that pierced through static shortwave said there’d be
a socialistic ujamaa by choice,
Nyerere’d set both her and country free.
A man composed of naught but others’ praise
when struck by deafness found in blacks his light,
the Swan Lake of all lexical ballets,
said Shakespeare’s sonnet’s all he’d henceforth write.
For flourishing of self all ages yearn,
fulfillment ours, were somehow wages earned.

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.

shackled to the untethered spelunker

Context — how I perceive the turmoil that starts and ends in the very first flash of morning consciousness.


A thought unwelcomed, grounding, stirs me from
cerebral puddle brimming with bizzare,
where straightened course adhering to a rhum
has altered angles, mangled meaning, marred
to point beyond confusion. Because when
consumed by vignette oddities, segues
are lost, no overlaps in circles Venn.
Your reinless self at sprint, you beg the sleigh
decelerate and resolutely halt
to let your reason interfere and fix
the patchwork nonsense figures call your fault.
Control is useless here. Blot what’s affixed
to inner consciousness–what boils your sleep–
as these are qualms that into daytime seep.

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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