Sonnets

I write sonnets to hold myself together.

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Annals of the Afroasiatic Pioneers, Vol 2, #30

Context — There are many kids of intelligence

 

Linguistic mastery is but one face
of all intelligence a body has.
Its kinesthetic face allows for grace
and tonal face births unexpected jazz,
its numbers side perfected by savants
allows near-instantly computed sums,
its introspective side dissects your wants,
and geospatial side makes true maps’ rhumbs.
As many kinds of smarts exist as lives
are postulated for a cat to hold,
yet placement test would eight of these deny
and simply ask retell what has been told.
Evaluations sadly thus exclude
assessment of the boy’s full aptitude.

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.

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.

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.

We are better as an Enterprise

Context — Time affects minds affects bodies affects actions. Ain’t nothing affects a spaceship.

 

What tardy signs of aging plague our days?
The stiffening of joints, the ossified
perspectives where once thrived the polyphase,
and matte where once beamed glow and gloss inside.
Its territory known increasingly,
its navigator tires of the details,
its habits overwhelm unceasing plea
of world’s rebirths, but nothing countervails.
With body as mere vessel to explore
the planet Earth, commanded by the mind,
we’d act more freely if thought commodore
of spaceship made to research humankind:
from Frankenstein’d galactic alcazar
steer endless expedition through our stars.

Space is just airing

Context — What if object-oriented physics is actually just a convenient shortcut for a more complex web of reality?

 

It’s easiest to think the steps we take
are movements through a world material,
impacted dirt unfailingly opaque,
resisting step without ethereal
suggestion or an accidental tell,
as if to keep us mum from questioning
if we are on the mental carousel
assuming that our eyes’ suggestion things
are real’s just a shortcut from the brain.
We’re not sure how existences exist.
Another way to think is space attains
the form of fog when passing through is mist:
space wooding, misting, tea’ing, Brent’ing; crux
is space as constant, ever-present flux.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Gifts of Thirty: Epilogue

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

 

By now you see I’ve drawn from infinite
array of possibilities for week
in which we’re both equipped to smile when it
becomes reality: I don’t misspeak
to promise you two tickets to the place
your heart desires to go, with me in tow.
I only ask your child within embrace
the opportunity to dare and grow.
To pilot, kite surf, chow, scoot, lounge, or glide,
to meditate or read, withdraw from web,
or rather to immerse ourselves inside
a tested second life’s first flows and ebbs.
Let’s make you free for seven days, to start
the year you steer your life to pasts depart.

Gifts of Thirty: Option 3

Context — Someone wonderful turned 30 last year. I described my gift in 5 sonnets, released over the course of this week. #4 of 5

 

The third is an escape by all accounts,
vacation to an altitude or sea,
to forest cabin topping giant mount
or jungle, lake, savannah, tundra, scree.
We’d swim or scuba, expertly traverse,
backpack or hire a motor scooter as
required to your adventure sense reverse
and start your thirties with offshore pizzazz.
The continents seek your attention, so
your challenge is to pick where our first trip
will be, to be looked back on as tableau
of nature’s splendor ’round our partnership.
Agnostic to the flora, fauna that
surround us, know you’ll be my habitat.

Gifts of Thirty: Option 2

Context — Someone wonderful turned 30 last year. We lived in different cities. I described my gift in 5 sonnets, released over the course of this week. #3 of 5

 

The second is a full embrace of one
of our cities–the pick is yours–to test
how life would feel were we to have undone
the barrier of space between our nests.
We’d for that week live like we’d both just moved,
attending open gyms, trying routines
for exercise, to see if we approved
of how life felt amidst the big betweens
we witness one another having. Time
would feel almost endless, now I fear
while writing, so much listlessness would prime
a fight, which in its mending would cohere
us further. By the end the other’d know
his or her love for lover’s lived borough.

Gifts of Thirty: Preamble

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

 

The knowledge that you view today as an
inflection point from downward dip to cloud,
caused consternation as I tried to plan
a gift to suit occasion so endowed.
Unable to attend in body, I
was further pushed against the ropes, myself
advancing on myself critiques whereby
I’d ask if what I’d found was sold on shelf.
If answered “yes,” returned to drawing board,
if answered “no,” then three more asks were made:
is it of proper depth, could I afford,
and could it help her turnaround? Okayed
was only one, which in these verses shall
be shared in three example rationales.

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.

Migration

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?”

Above Nevada

Context — Living in Arusha up in the hills of Mt Meru and writing about my absorption of that experience meant Young Me left a lot of written suggestions for Future Me. One of them was that money’s really not an end. I wrote this on a plane while headed back to grad school for recruiting season, a frustrating pony show of false camaraderie. Sonnet 30, penned 12/01/09.

 

At thirty thousand feet aloft, I swam
through dusty nighttime sky with darkened thought.
Two years of working told both who I am
and places where my dedication’s sought.
To ponder planning’s suitable tonight,
as summer jobs await upon return.
I maintain hope that aerial insight
will tell me where, when, and from whom to earn
the thirty thousand dollars I require
to be both frugal and, at once, provide
for family, aging, illness and retire
the milestones of life gleaned from outside.
Advice I read I wrote when my to-do
was blotted by the rains of Mt Meru.

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