Tag Archives: sonnet

Shekhinah in Blue

for Robin

Each light she touches turns to blue: turquoise,
iris, steel, sky. She glows with blue, haloed
with color against the night, fingers poised
and playing fusion of jazz and shadow
on piano keys transparent as glass, ice.
Each note is a chime past human hearing,
and the measure to which she dances flies
through interstellar space, disappearing
into dust and memories, then spinning
back to life not as lost as we believed,
in the end become in the beginning,
a change of time, a change of place, she breathes
and sings, half clarinet and half cello,
the blues whirling inside her, still indigo.

It Happened So Long Ago

Did the fire in my brain come before or after the fire
in my mouth? My mother will never tell, and the records
have all been lost. All we know is there was burning, a pyre,
nerves gone haywire; we know there was a scream, a cry, a cord
anchoring one end of a wire at a fixed place, flashpoint
channeled from this, here, toward infinite possibility.
And there are scars. Of course there are scars. Even at knifepoint,
when the scars are cut away, new scars come. Serenity
comes with disregarding the scars, the old face, the new face,
whatever. I’m usually not the one who has to look
at it. I live behind the face and forget what’s erased,
what’s seen. I forget my hair is blue, that my smile is crooked
to one side, as if wryly amused. When you look at me,
I look back. When you smile, I smile, too, happy to be seen.

La Vessie Est Plein

The moon tonight is shaped like a spoon, cradling a droplet
of dark, heavy and solid. At sea, the weeds pump themselves
full of air, floating lighter than water, are carried by
currents helping them move from here to there, from this to that.
The weeds are called wrack — beach wrack, rock wrack, toothed wrack, bladder wrack —
as if they are wracked with guilt, pain, sobs, grief. I was sobbing
tonight, again, with grief that comes and goes like tides, holding
me back or holding me up, I don’t know. The tides lift up
the sea’s air bladders and shift them gently, in currents slow
and strange, like water dirigibles, trailing messages.
On land, the idea of the bladder flips and inverts,
carrying liquid, like a wineskin, sloshing or flaccid.
A bladder is feminine in French: la vessie est plein.
Let us speak plainly. In English, bladder is gender neutral.

Drawing on Skin

Suzanne pushed her breasts up, soft globes of petaled skin,
and arched her neck back, eyes closed as if half asleep.
From one angle she looks gracefully relaxed, chin
tucked under, edging toward being a boneless heap,
some final abandonment. While from another,
the quiet conceals nothing of her triumph,
her glorious defiance. Why should a mother
not trace lace and lines, not carve from her flesh giants,
not be beautiful in whatever way she is?
Let women sprout orchids with open throats, lilies
chained around the necks of tigers. Go forth, she says,
exist as art. Coconut milk drips from you, bees
honey-dance by your lips. There is a heat
muscles knot over bone, burning beneath each teat.

Not Pretty Enough for You

It’s hard to tell — Do the beauty’s brilliant blue eyes open
to reveal the red-rimmed fatigue of a demon sketched out,
or is it the reverse? Does the demon open its grin,
cracking through the smooth lotioned skin, the painted perfect pout,
and loosen the teeth that ache from being held in so tight,
cooped up and forced inside the mouth too small for them to fit?
Or does the woman know that demon far too well, and fight
to contain it, exhausted from trying, and crying quit;
looking numb because that’s what is left as she throws her all
into armor and elegance? All I know is her hair
is almost perfect, and the same no matter which face calls
to mine: her tresses dark and light, shadows like a black bear’s
fur, highlights bright as the edge of a wave in the deep dusk,
small loose tufts floating free around her face scented with musk.

Burning Hands

I’ve never been to Burning Man. I hear it’s hot — desert
dust & sky both wide open as if they can’t bear to touch;
folk knotted into clothes because they can’t bear to wear much;
even clouds shred into wisps that barely cover, & flirt
with the dirt of a far off horizon. Hot. & then cold.
Either way, it’s intense, & that’s before adding in fires
& lovers / towers of flowers / stegosauri & spires /
the glowing teeth / awkward bots / glare / creatures / cheers raw & bold /
the bear / the bent / the beasts / the burning / the burn. My hands hurt
too much to touch you, too much to touch myself; skin gone thin,
gone rough & harsh, skin that throbs & pulses while dancers spin.
Sometimes my hands throb like this after drum circles, alert
& alive, remembering the beat. Today, they raise prayers,
lifting up, a flaming statue of palms cradling air.

On Making Beautiful Monsters

Don’t let a poet into your Build-a-Body workshop!
There’s no telling what they’ll try to put together, and
for all the wrong reasons. They won’t care if mushroom bodies
dangle or dip or jut up like combs and wattles. Feathers
will have to be included, of course, and vibrissae. (Who
cares that they belong on different phylogenetic
branches of the evolutionary tree?) A poet
might vajazzle a cloaca with ommatidia
just because they like the sparkle and bounce of the words, but
trust me, you do not want to see those words put together.
Pray they don’t add a sprinkling of blastomeres for some cleavage,
or knit neuroglia over biofilm for a net
to scrunch into a purple nictitating membrane. What
it comes down to is no one quite wants a poet’s bodies.

On Breathing

I sing the praise of elderberry and zinc,
how they attach to the lining of lungs,
block viral replication sites. I think
the word “alveolar” deserves more tongue,
more friction, more rasp, more love. I would purr
it out, with a little gasp for the “o”
and so open the bronchioles, where blurs
the breath at the end of the line, zero
point between blood and air, where breath meets flesh
and they merge. Such an essential pleasure,
to part the lips, and relax, let the fresh
air in, and down; delighted to measure
its cool progress through the maze of branching
paths, how it follows them all, sans choosing.

April’s Fool

Spokes of an umbrella flatten and poke,
catch and cut. Fingertip or lip, cuts slip
with liquid salt, pale yellow or egg yolk
warm, sunnyside up. Threaded pink, they drip
and ache with spring colors. No more neutral
(grey, black, white), this broken skin cracks open
the hidden joke between sea and futile
rain’s efforts to be sweet while still hoping
to meet. Leaf buds red or violet before
turning green, sharp enough to hurt. She is
the line between red and white, drawn tight; sore,
and bored with waiting for rain to stop, says
let the wind fix what it broke, the rainbow
drawn in cloud and smoke over absent snow.

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