Tag Archives: Letters

Untitled Sonnet

So, you do what it takes because, well, love,
you know? Because love. And because love, we
let them go. And then howl, losing them, not
like they howled, no, all alert and proud of
a job well done. Slow and rough opens grief,
then grief, door-like, snaps closed, snaps a snapshot
of life before, and sets the camera down.
We have been promised a tunnel of light,
a safe haven, a destination, but
not for them. Doves in flight caught with a bound,
squirrels treed above, a long straight road bright
with sun and dust, to rove down or run, cut
loose and free, as if there’s another place
to be … we stay, and they run a new race.

Form: AA 12-Step Sonnet

Of Numbers, Names, and Weeping Things

Over and over and over again.
Cycles and circles, creatures and crawling.
The howling that haunts the space between throat
and skin (“let me in” / “let me out”), shouting
its name. Of course it has a name, because

all things have names. That’s what we do, humans,
ever since Adam. We name things. All things.
More and more things. Names that emerge, whispers,
climbing on bones of names that came before.
Names that slide slickly down the hunger tube

as if they can satisfy. Names so still
we don’t know they hold shivering inside.
Names roaring like wind in the ears of those
falling, too far and too fast to survive.
Names like little boxes to live inside

but can never redecorate. That’s what
poetry is for. Stripping the purple
from the crocus, plucking the gold. Swallow
the minuscule piece of poison that’s left.
It’s all dose dependent. It’s all context.

The winged things that called to me as a child,
singing on the sidewalk in front of home,
as if they were weeping, as if they were
so tired of weeping, as if grief lifted
their feathers, separating and spreading,

as if grief was joy and beauty and love
twisted in time. As if only nameless
beings could open the boxes, break them,
remake them. Do numbers need names to be
friends at ease with each other, to become

blue and yellow, pink and turquoise, to take
up space and shape and form and to delight
each other? They tip like balance, a scale,
float like bubbles or petals, quietly
amused. Numbers sing weightless in the air.

Placeholder Sonnet

This is not a proper reply to your letter,
or the stunning revelation which followed next.
This is just a note to say, I am so impressed
with your fierceness over wings and rings. It’s better

to be angry than numb or afraid, I’m thinking.
That pigeon / swallow / sparrow / mourning dove sinking
into its nest hacked the system meant to control

its choice of loves. Oh, brava, brave bird, so clever
and creative. Who would think to take weapons hexed
against you, hide there from your enemies to vex
them? To preen and breed and feed, to tether pleasure

to that ironic consent thus implied, deny
the wound that was intended? This comforts, consoles,
and inspires such secondhand pride in their shy sigh.

Form is a modified (12 syllable line) Alternating Sonnet

Postscript 1

Stories seem as tall as the lake is deep,
say the news reports. They’re looking again
for Nessie, this time with genetic sweeps.
I recall wading in mud, silt. Back then,
as if warm waters held whispers of sweet,
of gentleness, tenderness — invisible
seaweed stroked my ankle, cool in the heat,
while silt filmed my foot, and (immiscible)
floated away on the currents, settled,
then rose over and over in journeys
expected, erratic, like one petal
falling after rain. Some stories (Nessie’s?)
grow with each telling, while others scatter,
dissolve, as if washed away, or shattered.

Bobby, Billie, and Blue

Them with their spate of the blues, or us dancing our own
alphabet soup in tandem? (Just a jump to the left.
And then a hop to the right.) Yeah, you bet it was hot.
How hot was it? So hot I learned sweat can suck the blues
right out of my hair, and blotch my forehead with old griefs

and a new map of continents I’ve not yet seen, still …
blue. And blue. And turquoise. And blue moons. Billie
crooned out her loneliness years before I was born,
her jazzy call for a swing-step foxtrot love of her own,
bedazzled with saxophone, trumpet, and clarinet
dancing step/step/rock-step over the piano. That’s hot.

Kiddo’s been playing Flash Fire Fever (also jazzy),
and Sandy posted about her new poem, “Dijon Sky,”
“a little hot on the tongue (this dog has panted out).”

That hot. That yellow. That blue. Dancing robots, and us,
old cyborgs that we are, all the broken bits and cracks
and worn out weakness that washes away in waters

rinsing today’s laundry; doing what has to be done,
doing the things that carry us one day closer to
when we can do nothing, with no one. Time to let go
of my own leash, at least to think about it. Sandy
also posted the last lines of Adrienne’s “Splittings.”

Hard to believe, but I don’t remember ever reading
this one before. All the things I’ve missed out on, the time
I’ve wasted. Time to oil the Tin Man until he shines,
give him that new heart he keeps bellyaching about,
and see what happens. Step/step/rock-step. Maybe a spin.

Pause, Rewrite, Repeat

I hear you, at least I think so. Not sure,
cuz I’ve got “nothing left to lose” buzzing
in my brain as an earworm; been drinking
too much cold coffee too late in the day.

Janis thought feeling good was easy, but,
well, easier for some than for others.
Not so easy for me. What about thee?
I can’t call this my Bobby McGee piece.

I’d thought of “me and my shadow,” but that’s
a bit subtle, when really it’s just me
and my PTSD strolling down the street,
my brain playing the egg game — a smooth shell

for show, the white behind frothing up with
what-ifs and worries, and in back the yolk,
relaxed and safe and rarely seen. My kind
of Trinity on this so doctrinal

summer Sunday. (Lawn mower buzzes past
the window. I picked up some lemonade
at the corner store, gave the dog a bath.
Practical tenderness. Boyo and I

went beep-boink head-butt before walking in
to watch Infinity War. Affection
performed roughly.) I know the story that
kept me locked up. Sometimes we need to write

our stories out, sometimes we can’t find words.
Sometimes we need to rewrite old stories,
or let them rewrite us, writing over
whoever we thought we’d be. I dunno.

Maybe life stories need editors, or
autopilots for mid-flight corrections.
(I confess, though, as a rewrite, I’m not
fond of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.”)

Of Midnight and Morning

Midnight blurred my welcome-home photo of the bosomy blooms —
nippled at the stem, freckled at the throat, and tongued with stamens.

Your midnight wanderings shade to my too-bright morning, the chill
breeze over my face, the dog curled on my belly. And so day

opens like the window, to Facebook, Twitter, your good wishes,
your new poem. A deck of cards was in one of the packages

which arrived during my travels — the sweet Jane Austen, sealed with
the Ace of Spades, and epigraphed with “You pierce my soul. I am

half agony, half hope … I have loved none but you.” Stupid quote.
It’s from Persuasion, her last novel, but so childish. We can

argue about it later. Or agree. Or whatever. Now
is now. It’s time. It’s time, and it’s been time, and it continues

to be time. Time stretches out opportunity like waking.
Yesterday, the loud-mouthed butch in the back of the bus

hollered, “I just want to get a hotel!” and then, “I think I’m
having second thoughts.” Her non-idea, so random, so sharp

and pointedly personal … well. The bus took notice. Today,
I swap footies with neon sunglasses for knee-highs of bold

red-faced spider-monkeys with bananas, and run for the bus.
Which I miss, of course. I wait with red poppies, blue irises,

thin-fingered pink honeysuckles. I wait with the words in which
you take delight. The words that melt in my mouth buzz against lips;

sputter, spark, and melt against the tongue — vapor, vellum, velvet,
vivid, voluptuous, vulva. The alphabet makes me swoon.

What Else Could I Say?

Sure, I think. Then, sure, I say, having known that “sure”
was what I would say from the moment I saw your

invitation with my name in it. I shivered

with the same kind of frisson I felt last weekend

when I stood on an open balcony, looked down
dizzily from the 18th floor. I did not know

that someone else was also looking down, also
shivering, but I stepped back then, sure of that edge
in that moment not belonging to me. And now,
I’m on terra firma, well, rather, on the bus,

reading what you have written with my name in it,

remembering when I hid your name in a poem,

years ago. No one found it. Now, disembarking
from the bus, I walk past a riot of flowers —

lilacs, phlox, azaleas — all shades of plump purples,

the yellow dandelions teething on my fingers.

My shadow stretches out long & lean by my door.
The plan for tonight is to unpack my bags; sort

all the mail that came while I was traveling —
piles and piles of it (9 packets, 9 magazines
only one of which I’d ordered, 12 envelopes,
and 38 streamers advertising Whole Foods);
and shower, because the travel is stuck to me

like bad dreams in the morning, because a quiet

moment can be a very good thing, and because

clean is a comfort, at times. The shower comes first,
before dinner, before sleep, but after hugging
the kid hello. I change into something simple —

a pair of sweats named “Rouge” but labelled “Love,”

a tshirt with a mermaid looking out to sea.