sometimes poetry rhymes
January 13, 2012

Grave stone

Silence is a thing my tongue knows how to say
while I am practicing my art of the alone –
my heart and shadowed self love every gray

turning path where feet have marked the way
from night to dawn, to sun, past creek and stone.
Their silence is a thing my tongue knows how to say

to dusky forms that sleep through all the May
fogs and whisperings of buried bone.
My heart and shadowed self love every gray

turn of phrase the ground hides from the day –
the murmur of the deep down and unknown
whose silence is a thing my tongue knows how to say.

And all the searching hands that stray
from mine, they noiselessly intone
that my heart and shadowed self love every gray

closing of the eyes and every way
to sleep against the grain of the alone.
My heart and shadowed self love every gray
silence – a thing my tongue knows how to say.


love letter to a dead poet
January 5, 2012

To Emily Dickinson,

Would you leave your room if
I asked you to?
I am asking and
consider this an offer from a
nobody to Nobody –
I will take off your white clothes and
kiss the inside of your belly button
if you come for tea in the afternoon (or
coffee if you like and maybe
cookies with powdered sugar that
will cling to your slender fingers which I
will lick if you let me) and
if you let me I would like to
undo your shoe laces and
every rhyme you
have ever written.


the evolution of the sonnet
July 14, 2011

This poem is from earlier this year when I was going through a sonnet phase.  It started out as a Shakespearean sonnet, as you can see from the first two quatrains with their iambs and abab rhyme scheme.  But the number of feet in each line is 7, not the traditional 5.  And then while I was writing it, I inadvertently added an extra line in the middle of the poem and only realized this after someone else read the poem and pointed it out.  I have since revised it, adding a couple lines and complexifying the rhyme scheme in the second half a bit.  It ended up being abab cdcd ede fgfg fhh.  As you might have guessed, I really like this poem for the form and technical experimentation.

In the Garden

When I was young, I knew where all the virtues went to stay;
I came upon them sipping tea one summer afternoon,
the sunlight and their splendor hanging heavy on the day,
the only sound the tinkling of their cups on silver spoons.

They continued stirring sugar as I marveled, face to face
with Wisdom, Honor, and Compassion, Faith and Hope and Might,
and I, the child who knew no better, sat down next to Grace
and stared at Beauty for a while.  I stayed with them till night,

and listened to their voices speaking softly of the earth,
not worrying but wondering at marvels and at plight,
at human love and suffering, at knowledge and its worth,

at waking to the end of sleep when all the dreams are through.
The virtues turned to me sometimes to ask me what I thought
of finger sandwiches and stars, and all the things I knew.
Not knowing what to say, I spoke of lightning bugs I’d caught

and berries eaten from the vine, of wanting to seem true.
My mother called me in the dark, and I left the virtues with despair.
But if I find them once again, they’re saving me a chair.

apologies and a petrarchan sonnet
July 12, 2011

I realized recently that it has been far far too long since my last blog post and that apologies to my readers (if I have any at all) are due.  I have been hesitant to post my poetry recently due to the fact that I have been sending my work out to other online publications, and it is generally frowned upon in the literary world to submit work for publication that you have already posted yourself.  Hopefully, then, you will be able to read some of the things I have written recently, but on other websites (response time for most submissions, though, is frustratingly delayed, so have patience).

In the meantime, I’ll share with you a sonnet that I wrote recently.  Petrarch, who is recognized as the originator of the Italian sonnet, wrote a series of 366 poems for which he achieved great fame, and interestingly, 317 of these poems were for a woman called Laura.  This muse was perhaps inspired by a real encounter Petrarch had with a woman, but in his poetry, she is an idealization and the object of his unrealized passion.  As an exercise, I decided to write his 367th sonnet (keep in mind, though, that I have not read all 366 poems that would have come before it).  It is in iambic pentameter with the traditional Petrarchan rhyme scheme of an ababcdcd octave followed by a cdecde sestet.

Sonnet 367

To Laura

This final work is yours, my love and heart:
these tired lines I almost let slip by
in thinking of them always from the start,
from even the first day I met your eye
and fell for every tender turn and nod
your head would make in sleeping and in speech,
and from that fateful day I prayed to God
that yours would be a threshold I could breach.

But, my lady, you are my undoing;
you’ve been my end in 14 simple lines,
for loving you was always self-defeat,
and when my corpse, laid out for viewing,
is washed of sin and all its outward signs,
they’ll find my heart lies trampled at your feet.

unmetered ballad
March 12, 2011

Knowing You

Please ignore my symmetry
and my slender supple sinewed hands
and the tiny tingling mystery
I hide in the iris of my eye.

If you knew me you would know also
that I am slow to smile at strangers
and that if left to me, the world would forego
its need for small talk and greeting cards.

Please stop thinking I know things that I do not,
like your middle name and the tattoo on your back
and how we met one summer in the hot
afternoon of your nineteenth birthday party

and how you have danced outside, in all the springs
I have been your friend, when the first rains come.
I have never known those things
because, my friend, I’ve made myself forget.

You know me for my symmetry
and the lilting way I say hello
and for the cultivated mystery
I hide beneath my tripping tongue.

I never asked, and never want, to know you
and the crooked way your eyebrows raise
and your hands that never open unless to
make an offer or wave goodbye.