Sonnets

I write sonnets to hold myself together.

Tag: historical fact

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.

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Math reinforces my hunch that we are not alone

Context —

13,800 million years ago the universe went boom
13,200 million years ago the Milky Way happened
4,540 million years ago Earth came to be
3,550 million years ago life started as cyanobacteria
65 million years ago emerged the first primates

So many years ago, the Big Bang boomed,
thirteen-point-eight, well, billion, more or less.
Two-thirds the time since then passed, then Earth bloomed–
at least, into one rock it coalesced.
Another billion years, then life was formed:
bacteria that fossils show’s like ours.
Mutations’ prevalence helped those deformed
evolve past ever higher complex bars.
The primate came just sixty-five mil years
ago. Let’s look at ratios. Divide
that into age of universe: it nears
two-hundred times! 3 billion years supplied
enough to make such beasts as us. There must
be others hid in interstellar dust.

Absent justices

Context — What’s going on with Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Rumain Brisbon is heavy. It’s stirring up memories that were shared with me of carjacking with no recourse.

 

Nairobi’s automatic weapons high,
at gunpoint’s shout coercion’s plainly forced:
they drop their phones, bags, wallets, quick comply
so they won’t with their lives be soon divorced.
Bereft of all but clothes and minds, blood’s pump
extreme in thrust, discussed the chance what’s just
could be obtained from cops: “Corrupt and plump,
their paunch fat’s staunched the faith of public trust.
We go to them, we’ll end up poorer than
we came,” exclaimed young Ben, ashamed that home’s
regressing reputation overran
community ubuntu chromosomes
encased in Kenyans’ DNA. They broke
as poverty made crooks of common folk.

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.

The picnic sonnet

Context — This one’s just for those who understand it.

 

To help some folks craft what they will achieve
in education from where sun does scorch,
a missive came that bade me up and leave
in half a fortnight from my homey porch.
With holiday aligned to interests mine,
I thus convened a Tuesday picnic so
I’d see the faces that I’d like enshrined
in smiling memory of SF’s glow.
With each reply my heart grew quarter-sized,
as Grinch against his will was won anew.
I knew responses were supporters, prized
their sentiments although they’d work curfews.
I toast Sebastien, Alison, and Crow
for loyalty to come and say hello!

We harbor civil war

Context — A new friend described the tension elaborated on herein. I hope he is wildly successful in his marriage of the two.

 

There’s folks in California northern here
agreeing with what Vedas say in script
that souls in repetition reappear
until transcending all that’s derelict.
Geneticists, on other hand, propound
millennia of ancestors controlled
dimensions, penchants, habits that abound
in frail body vehicles ensouled.
Affliction thus corporeal against
resuscitated pneuma, wise with age,
experience this time’s by body fenced,
and limited by ancestors’ writ page.
This conflict stews as chowder in our lives,
in cycles both enhances and deprives.

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.

Garnered suggestions on ascension to 30

Context — I milestone-aged recently. My coworkers offered their thoughts on how to make the decade thrilling and rewarding.

 

Advice from friends upon ascension to
the magic age of thirty is to be
reminded that in play is 22,
to face life with an active strategy,
to take up meditation, tend a plant,
to work out, score a partner, and to freeze
before that date in case you later can’t,
then with it have a baby, try foresee
toxicities and weed them all away,
go hard or home, eat well, dismiss your fear,
call more, text less, and rise above the fray
to treat them as the finest brilliant years.
My friends, my thanks for pooling wisdom so:
’tis thrilling recipe. Now tally ho!

Lim[x->sonnet](your claims) = lies!

Context — I wrote this on a Caltrain ride in late 2011, to someone who claimed she liked math and verse. She never replied.

 

When Sundays linger, on my back, in grass
responsibility all cast aside
I ponder mathematics, fluids, mass
and sonnets, quite like you (unless you lied).
I equally lament the lack of rho,
the absence of e, pi, and Golden Mean:
iambic tens in couplets are the foe
of calculus’ lexicon. Obscene
to think the haiku couldn’t choose base ten!
I laugh at limericks’ length limit of five!
All other verse lacks ying, lacks yang, lacks zen
compared to sonnets. Q.E.D.: derived.
If proofs above echo your inner voice,
perhaps we might at length further rejoice.

Phoenix in my bathroom

Context — Bathing rejuvenates.

 

I’ll slip past frosted glass and into steam
with soil afoot, and underarms unclean,
my skull awaiting cleansing water stream,
a psychiatric flush of harsher mien.
Sensation spanning all five senses, sound
a static thrum to slow the psyche, taste
forgettable, the touch of heat abounds,
the aromatic greenhouse air erased
my nasopulmonary mucous blocks.
Propellant water droplets canvass wall,
designs improbable yet orthodox.
I’m eye of hurricane Pacific squall.
As long as there’s been water here on earth
immersion in it feels like rebirth.

#43: A second third of me until 2010

Context — #42-44 were an autobiographical miniseries I wrote as part of an application to get into a class in grad school. 26 August 2010. Final one pending.

 

While sitting on soapbox philosophy,
my righteousness is voiced as normative:
with voice made hoarse to get across, in plea
to MBAs two fragments, formative
from counted days I that I spent laid in pain,
a sample of the years of work germs steal
as unclean, filthy water, inhumane
and yet, we’ve blinded selves to this ordeal.
I bullhorn GSB with fragment one,
determined to improve our water’s state,
while undermining haughtiness begun
when classmates worry for family estates–
I’ll mute my judgment now and save applause
the wealth itself is fine, but for a cause.

#42: A first third of me until 2010

Context — #42-44 were an autobiographical miniseries I wrote as part of an application to get into a class in grad school. 26 August 2010. I’ll post the other two over the next week.

 

My Arizona silver spoon aside,
a year in Tanzania ‘llowed for sight
across the fence, of other half untried,
as destitute as China. Black and white
were blurred by daily clash of thought with deeds:
“they say the Middle Kingdom’s on the rise,
yet poor are poor, while wealth of some exceeds
all dreams, unfairness that goes undisguised.”
So mystified was I how pure content
was broadcast when in Africa or Isles,
despite no wallet padding to augment
their fortunes when subject to fate’s harsh wiles.
With time and thought I found, while mapping this:
they’re poor in cents but not in happiness.

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.

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.

Introducing the Butt Tap Game

Context — the butt tap game can be played with an arbitrarily large number of people.

 

I’ll now unlikely game soon introduce.
Herein instructions are to break the ice
of company that, else-wise, might induce
a suicidal fit, whose sole device
is waxing on and on, or those who lurk
on edges of your conversations, then
at moments inconvenient vault in, jerk
a joyful chat towards grisly CNN.
So gather all these folks, and tell them there’s
a competition starting: you’re to tag
the heiney of competitor, while theirs
is do the same to you. They’ll then zigzag
about the room like bats. A bettered scene
you’ve left by changing terms from trite routine.

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.

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.

Come, learn wizardry, and manipulate The Matrix

Context — In Germany there exists nerd Hogwarts, the School of Machines, Making & Make-Believe. As soon as I heard it existed I had to write this. Inspiration came from this Vine. Today’s comes out early so it can be enjoyed in Europe.

 

At age of one, imagination’s all.
Reality is hologram is real,
the newness swaddles. Everything enthralls.
Repeat exposure and so dies the zeal.
By twenty-eight, imagination’s sane.
The reins of adult life have lassoed tight,
as rationales from rationals arraign
the fantasies that once turned sheet to wight.
Unless, of course, you’re trained to turn the tide
with processing projection rigs on bikes:
Berliner passers-by can’t brush aside
the magic wand that’s movement-into-light.
Recover what adultness from you thieved
at School relearn Machines & Make-Believe.

Serendipity six

Context — I’ve had 5 random how-the-hell-are-you-here run-ins around the world. In a wide-reaching conversation initiated by my boss at the only bar in the Nairobi airport lounge, I ended up discovering that the girl sitting there knew me. She became number six. We mused about the evangelical dominance in Solomon Islands and coping strategies on life. She demonstrated one by cleverly ordering two beers at once upon getting the bartend’s scarce attention. May 2014

 

The serendipity was number six,
perhaps most powerful of the sextet.
Discovery historic paths were mixed
in interweaving stories, perplexed. Yet,
at once parts shared and parts distinct, as when
two souls collide in transit, work-inspired,
and discourse to the dominance of men
swings to, then fro to Christian island friars.
Indeed it seems improbable to share
the formative experience of youth
and in an airport bar two-fist lay bare
the times we’ve used to calibrate our truth.
You made me, at departure, somehow miss
your warmth of company and parting kiss.

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