Sonnets

I write sonnets to hold myself together.

Tag: SF

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.

Cellular infusions of brilliance

Context — When the sun breaks through days of gloom these images flash through my mind.

 

Perpetuality of spring, invade
the gloomy nooks my body’s caverns house,
mosaically leave viscera inlaid
to multiply the beams sun’s sheen endows.
Create in me a parquet floor of jewels
as intricate as Moorish alcazar,
mathematically refracting, drying pools
that are black thoughts’ ink-tinted reservoirs.
Construct me from resuscitated stones
whose flesh was forged from starry mass like yours,
shine holiness to unembalm my bones,
transmute biotic body’s walls to doors.
So bellow biochemicals to glow!
Grant confidence to conquer earthen woe.

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!

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.

People in shells are still people

Context — I can find it difficult to recall that I am fond of humans when I get distracted by startup roulette wealth.

 

Soles standing on cracked asphalt, corner light
turns flashing yellow, white man pops to sign
when blitzkrieg roar of Porsche urbanite
whips up my toxic envy at goldmine
of winnings startup-starting youth had won.
My marched attention migrates inwardly,
from there I search for how to have outdone
my salary’s shackles. Thoughts therein blurred “free”
with jealousy and judgment, vice ascribed,
attached to spoiler matte Carrera choice
that there on pavement rubber burns inscribed.
His car was as a braggart’s pleading voice.
Distaste dissolved now, realize the fault
was mine allowing baseless mental vault.

Your greed allowed the creation of my backpack

Context — My head and my heart battle over capitalism. At my core, I envision a system incented for short-term progress plus a government properly intent on long-term progress creating the ideal society. Optics are hard to surmount.

 

This road was planned by men in cotton shirts
with tiny buttons manufactured in
illusive places. Needles used convert
the foreign fibers fractured to cloth skin.
This road was paved by men whose goggles arced
across their sweaty faces, plastics from
the oiled spelunking depths tycoons had marked
through industry’s refinement specs become.
This road is walked by me, in bias clear
against those resource barons whose greed brought
the businessman beside the financier
to wrest from nature dollars once unsought.
And yet I’m hypocrite, for though they’re rich
I savor use of products that they’ve stitched.

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.

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.

Gilded homes of impracticality

Context — I’ve long had a ritual of sitting alone in the late evening and looking up at the sky or stars to unwind just before going to bed. While sitting on my roof this evening, surveying Haight Ashbury’s houses, I had a think.

 

With ground-lit darkness hiding all the proof
of stars, I pondered, why the gable roof?
It stood beside its replicas, as bouffe
would make of Painted Ladies, locals’ spoof.
It snows not where we are, so why align
the angles such that topmost floor’s confined?
Metropolis could use a more benign
and spacious warehouse structural design.
Yet all the places seen in neighborhood
use paneling, trim, girder, roof of wood
as if it through both fire and earthquake stood,
like local history’s misunderstood.
And yet, despite curmudgeon’s rationale,
the Haight’s quixotic pledge boosts my morale.

Hennessey and fear of heights doth neighbors make

Context — Saturday afternoon I received a text asking if I wanted to go to Santa Rosa to boulder. Yes, obviously. We instead lunched with a panorama view of SF, went to a bouldering gym in Potrero, and somehow got invited in to take shots of Hennessey at a 3-year old’s birthday party. It warrants picture proof.

photo 3

 

Improbability was key. She texts
to say we’re headed up to where wine’s made
and that in twenty minutes she’ll collect
my body to climb rock without belay.
Upon my seat in car, the plan becomes
tectonic in predictability
with items beyond lunch earning but mum
and audible to Thai soliloquy.
So noodles on Twin Peaks we had and then
by arbitrary vote drove to some walls
where slipping was okay, where closest zen
was recognizing when it’s time to fall.
Graffiti tour in Mission jacked by boss
who forced a salvo dozen-strong of sauce.

Regional introduction for Joe

Context — The SF office at my day job lost its lead partner to an organization in Berkeley, and we were asked to write an introductory message for the incoming lead, Joe, about what made SF unique. Wrote November 8, 2012

 

Well, okay, fine, we lost a partner, but
he’s squishy on the inside. Give him space
to rediscover Birkenstock wingnuts
that congregate in Berkeley. Any case,
dear Joe, we have delights for you in store:
a city filled with oddities of dress,
some hills for views, good food, Pacific shore,
the Giants down the street (post-work recess).
Though spurned by Bruce, who left for eastern land,
our pyramid remains a diamond shape,
we’re self-sufficient: bring us coffee and
we’ll follow faithfully, our mouths agape.
All Dalberg Global runs from SF’s pier,
yet none’s aware that we’re the puppeteer.

Ephemeral scent of the neighborhood barbeque

Context — the feeling of walking through an unfamiliar neighborhood in summer and realizing that you’re caught in the surface tension, stuck above submergence in the communal warmth.

 

The skies are blue. The air is fresh. The wind
relays a grill of sausage, summer’s feast.
Inhaled from beyond the fence that, tinned
the in from out relentlessly there creased.
You’re neighbor fleeting to the revelry
of jolly masses, yearning weekend’s joys,
yet separated by man’s beveled scree
from smile and quip and backslap it employs.
You grin for your adjacency to cheer
and tighten vertebrae to walk with pride,
convincing passers-by with your veneer
that all is right atop and right inside.
Yet ticker tape ‘tween ears leaves void abyss:
aloneness permeates all outward bliss.

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