I write sonnets to hold myself together.

Tag: unrequited love poem

Tailored shirts covering fools’ hearts

Context — The difficulty of saying is that one cannot un-say.


The finest shirt, French cuffed and cotton, pressed,
portrays sophistication none denounce.
Yet when the shirt of thread is dispossessed,
its sole unraveling takes ounce by ounce
aesthetics first, then function, cancer that
a scissor snip can slow, but never stop.
I worry that in world aristocrat
rogue thread is unintended malaprop:
to fly ideas fancifully as if
they came in passing, unconsidered, may
if seen as overstepping, cause a rift
in fabric, as in trust that’s cast away.
The yarn you pull to weave could wreck what’s on
the cloth: beware the heart-fueled lexicon.

La Bodeguita Del Medio

Context — #66, after a particularly fun date with someone who had a cold.


Prohibited from candy corn and treats,
resenting veggies and your sister’s stunts,
you mustered help from strangers with receipts,
avoided all parental rule affronts.
Our erstwhile hosts were quick with dish and check,
and burdened by the fear of parchéd throats,
then goaded by your panda probe, I wrecked
decorum, worried what such lapse connotes.
And yet your walk appeared to energize,
since symptoms of the sick weren’t even shown:
a beauty stretched from dress, to hair, to eyes,
as if you’d subbed for sick a healthy clone.
I hope you’ve, sleepy, acquiesced
to slumber, shedding worthlessness of stress.

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.

The anticipation of a correspondence

Context — #51. Partly the compunction of missing a hello, partly the joy of sleep, partly the anticipation of renewed engagement.


a purity of company amidst,
i’m basking in the humor of the crowd,
unconscious till departures that I missed
the message that your prior had avowed:
a wednesday’s sleep, a midweek gift of peace
recharging juices brackish, stale, and sour
had promised to your cortisol decrease,
your mood improve and appetite empower.
tis bliss for me your hunger is to say,
in clearest ways that “say” translates to “write,”
emerging from our evening soiree,
exchange beyond the wedding’s simple rite.
so I, in moments quiet, dark, and late,
await your brain’s debut of words ornate.

Discovering the buried glacial parts of people

Context — I was on a trip to, as we called it, discover the source of California’s water problems and solutions back in March 2011, driving through the Central Valley when corresponding with someone far. #50.


my life, consumed by voyages afar,
bears fruit in distant lands you cannot hear,
where, Hardy Boys outshined, we find bizarre
contraptions, gizmos, pipes, great dams, and weirs.
but further craze is boiled when we ask
of politics, laws, governance, and price
as if we’d gone to toil to unmask
their subterfuge in allocating ice.
you mention lack of luck and tortured soul,
and blame the dialing down as part of time.
rejecting that is my continued goal:
to know the you you keep as clandestine.
fatigued, i prize what you and I discuss–
though time may pass, i know advantage: us.

For _____, unsent

Context — I apologized to a girl once. December 28, a while ago.


To Palo Alto air blew south from north,
from late September through the holidays,
in nightly cycles round my lungs brought forth
your memory, which pierced my stolid ways.
You’ve eyes that fix me blushing in my place,
a confidence that steadies others’ hope,
a wit to dispatch hangers-on with haste,
are striking to the point it’s hard to cope.
My shame no longer reasoned an excuse,
my mind reframed our pleasant past undone,
I’d drive to find you, hoping that the bruise
would heal when I admit to love of one.
Reduced by your Canadian vignette,
the boy, mistaken, voiced his first regret.

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.

Nocturnal correspondence with a brain I admired passionately, #2

Context — I once kept an improbable correspondence alive with a brain I admired passionately. I pleasantly lose myself in her creativity. We lived far from one another. Wrote this on the evening March 13, 2011, and originally numbered my 49th sonnet.


fatigue and fervor, boxing gloves on fist
throw blows atop the parquet ‘tween my skull,
with neither happy just to coexist:
for navigating, one’s enough to scull.
the clock’s each tick a darker night invites,
a looser gaze and heightened heart displayed,
till point past prime when rising sun ignites
the wish that missive butterfly bliss stayed.
two feelings locked, as black holds white from yin,
melee in muck and muddy those in view.
one pines for slices of your mind wherein
their warmth allows me sleep to then eschew.
this daily bout has left you well enmeshed
in routines that now leave me well refreshed.

Nocturnal correspondence with a brain I admired passionately, #1

Context — I once kept an improbable correspondence alive with a brain I admired passionately. We lived far from one another. We considered me flying out to go camping together. As that never happened, banter kept us alive. Wrote this on the evening March 12, 2011, and originally numbered my 48th sonnet.


a clever physicist could find us out
by mapping ‘lectric traces coast to coast,
but layers of cryptography throughout
psychologists to hackers full engrossed
could never disentangle fore to aft:
above the rank and file naught and one
is code infused with riddle and with craft,
a language minds in concert have begun
to fill the empty physicality
to bellow cobwebbed cortex into glow,
until in presence, his locale agreed,
it’s shed for lengthy looks, its use outgrown.
before before live oaks we resurrect
allow us to ourselves in quips protect.

Your rapturous fiction

Context – this is about that halo of beautiful, flattering stories you weave about an intriguing stranger when you see him or her at a coffee shop with the light falling on the face just right.


You sit, assailing Schopenhauer. Smoke
twists tender tendril blurred behind tableau
embalming foreground porcelain. Evoke
reaction, tip the scene, speak! She’ll bestow
approval that I’d never known to need:
a smile, tiny rivets round the lips,
a giggle, cheekbone wiggle, hardly greed
against the brutish masculine’s wish: hips.
So small a sign, gargantuan a thought
disheveled pale perfection gifted, by
her very ignorance of how mind’s wrought
in gnarl and knot each place she drifted. Sigh.
To live in love, pretend beauties of youth
equate to godliness. Seek shallow truth.

Burning metal falls indiscriminately earthward

Context — SF Giants had their fireworks show at AT&T Park last night. I saw it with someone last year.


A hundred ferrous shimmers in the air,
exploding starlike celebration roared
above the distant stadium impaired
my functioning. My hijacked brain adored
remembrance of occasion one year’s past
beside the girl whose love gave me my worth.
Apart, now, months. Persistent pain had glassed
to surface equilibrium on firth.
The rocket show boomed late into the eve
and kept me from my sleep, but not for sound,
it having given grief the strength to cleave
past will and into cavern mind resound.
Acidic sadness swallows all. Sky quakes.
as duct-taped self with mental rattle breaks.

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