Sonnets

I write sonnets to hold myself together.

Tag: work

Pain to pain, dust to dust

Context — Shaking off work at Yosemite, I realized something.

Deep space drowned out my mental static. I
turned modern Tricorder to “off” and went
to nature’s bosom. Post-traumatic, my
gray mass was yet a-warbling discontent.
I tried maintain the vacuum stillness brought,
accentuating bird and hue and view,
yet smallest lapsed attention soon begot
unwitting replay of pasts I’d subdued.
Attention failed to focus reattain
while pounding ever-downward bruised my heel.
My eyes, I swear, saw beautiful domain
yet can’t recall a single slide from reel.
I, concentration on my foot constrained—
in fluke therefore transcended pain with pain.

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!

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.

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.

Expectations make roads, nobody says you can tread on grass

Context — Quell fear with a rebranded view of the track you’ve been set upon.

You’re born and you become the object of
two overwhelmed adults who’ve sacrificed
their social lives and duties. You’re above
the all of their past selves that they’ve repriced.
And then the race begins: the race to speak,
the race to crawl, the race to walk, the race
to talk, the race of smarts and of physique,
a path dependency that’s you encased.
To view each step as moving towards a goal,
advancing also further from liked paths,
in fear that all your choices are controlled
by choices past is fearful, faulty math.
Days’ supernova possibilities
digested can themselves will your mind free.

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!

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.

The sprinter is forever out of time

Context — I know a lot of driven people. Time passes quickly for them.

 

High lactic acid’s now become her base,
exertion past the point she recognized.
Her muscle equilibrium’s replaced
rejuvenating oxygen. Disguised
as daily dulling pain, she feels her neck
begin to stiffen, and her head to ache.
Her office now in ergonomics decked,
though yet can’t body’s healthful thirst quite slake.
She knows it not, but others quickly see
she’s running ever-faster in slight curve.
she misperceives as straight and leading to marquee,
her name lit up for colleagues to observe.
In churning, there’s a key thing she forgot
it takes some time to have reflective thought.

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.

#44: A third 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.

 

Fixing water’s fine for a profession
but spaces in between important, too.
Our days are simply moments of expression,
most oft enriched with company and brews.
The catalyst for persons A and B
connecting can be caffeinated, black,
that’s common now, beyond the bourgeoisie,
of well-pulled coffee. Off the liquid track,
I’ve films to make that soften into smile
the hardened look when businessmen assess
the world as ripe for takeovers (hostile),
to me the giggle’s measure for success.
With my full job and life before you stamped,
may I now kindly join your d. boot camp?

#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.

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.

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?”

Stressss

Context — …

 

The dead in deadline lines your mind, the grave
gargantuan and ghastly, grizzled ghoul
from filter fog advances, face concave
and cut with foolish failures, ridicule.
Approaching closer still, you see beyond
the caverns carved in look, and breath aborts–
you’re frozen, yearning, cannot correspond.
You see it’s you before you who reports.
“The grind,” your future past coughs out,
exhaustedly. Her crater cataracts
tell quietly of how she’s been devout
to work. Once prose, whose words her work redacts.
As minionlike to work you yourself veil,
life catalytic cortisol curtails.

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.

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.

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.

%d bloggers like this: