Archive for the ‘Sonnets’ Category

A Child’s Passport

February 1, 2010

Before Dick Cheney went away, I told her,
little boys and girls were fingerprinted,
photographed, required to pledge allegiance
to the flag and quizzed on history
at gunpoint in a room without their parents–
all to see how they would hold up under
torture and to gather data points
required to follow every move they made.
Of course I reassured her things have changed,
despite the uniforms and bullet-proof
enclosures for the customs officers
and soldiers and the yellow paperwork.
I told her not to worry when they called
her name. To just let Daddy do the talking.

What News?

December 30, 2009

What news arrives to play at decade’s close?
What random suite of happenstance befalls
our so-called holidays with gladding calls
to halcyon feeling, sadness or repose?
A revelation? Or the shock and awe
of senseless war and human tragedy?
What killer wave, jihadist strategy,
or stupid luck will swipe its feline paw
at all our tidy packages and glass
menageries, set fire to the pants
of airline passengers or snuff the glow
of hapless tabloid blondes? What song of chance
coincidence or pyhrric Senate pass
inflates its sack and sets its pipe to blow?

Young Girl in a Suburban Café

December 4, 2009

Marcie plays guitar and sings off key
or listens to the Velvet Underground
revivalists and sips an herbal tea
until her turn on-mic comes back around.
She’s luminescent, reaching to the length
of fingers spread across a rosewood board.
There’s stiffness in her rhythm but some strength
behind that errant F# minor chord.
And, yes, the knotted scarf is kind of sweet.
She looks the part, a twist of smart and pretty.
Behind her through the window to the street
the DeCamp 33 bus to the city
idles brightly for a moment at the light,
then sets off on its slow trip through the night.

Wednesday Night Open Mic
Tasty Coco Cafe and Lounge
Caldwell, NJ

Signed, Sealed, Delivered…

September 16, 2009

My sonnet, “Western Union,” was selected by 14 by 14 for the Love Sonnet edition. Above, we have me reading it last Sunday at Bar on A in New York. See, also, a smashing 14er by Christopher Hanson among the loves sonnets.

Note, further, that my YouTube gallery features several others reading at the Carmine Street Metrics event at Bar on A, namely Quincy Lehr, Wendy Sloan, Nemo Hill, and David Katz.

Back-to-School Umbrella!

September 2, 2009


The fall issue of Umbrella covers the syllabus, and I am allowed the last word on science. For history and math, you want W.F. Lantry. David Rosenthal is exclusively focused on math. Cutting biology?—Hey! That’s Martin Elster! Rose Kelleher drops out with a villanelle.

My Soul in the Wicked World

August 17, 2009


Carlyle called it two hundred years ago–
the hammers down, the xylophones locked and loaded.
Now, from this incandescent studio
of karaoke, I’m the man exploded
on a screen of iridescent stars
and gummy satellites the cracking apple-
green of sucking candy. Bumper cars
beat incorrect below me where they grapple.
And if a whiplash from the Wilding Mouse
cuts pressure points along my gangsta lean,
I’ll compensate by shouting out. I’ll house
the action park and bust a new machine
with throw-down from the last contralto standing.
A rhyme for peace and love and understanding.

Hershey Park, Hershey, PA, August 14, 2009
Photo by: eHow—How to do just about everything.

Buried Lead

August 5, 2009

There simply isn’t anything to say.
This news provides its own analysis
beyond all vitriol and overplay.
It settles down to cold catalysis
when numbers from the autopsy come in.
Blood/alcohol at 0.19-plus.
No mention of the crucial firing pin
that proves she could be anyone of us.
And if the New York Post and Daily News
both ask, “How Could She?” in a front page head,
coincidentally ignoring clues
that flash like gasoline about the dead
young mother and her dying child and nieces,
they’ll miss the point of picking through the pieces.

Sonnet to Modern Science

July 17, 2009

“The first step towards the attainment of a real discovery
was the humiliating confession of ignorance”
—Humphry Davy

Myopic genius, feeling in the dark
to find a switch installed so many years
ago, put down your hands and face the stark
reality. Forget the chandeliers
you count on to illuminate a world
of walls, for they are gone with your succinct
mathematics. The discoveries you squirreled,
those notebooks and the hard drives are extinct.
You’ll have to trust your instincts after all
and maybe listen to another voice
that sings to you from far outside the Hall.
You’ll recognize it now, you have no choice.
There isn’t any guidance on the shelf.
The light is in the world outside yourself.

What Happened to the Apples?

July 14, 2009

For Lydia

What happened to the apples, grapes, and pears
that rolled beneath a carpeting of bees
in summers I remember still? The trees
are dusky skeletons of sticks and hairs
beneath their haircuts of wisteria.
Sweet color lasts a week. The cardinal flies
to other airways once the purple dies,
and lying green provokes hysteria
in one who knows the framework is a sham.

There is a groundhog known as “Mr. Clam”–
the sobriquet awarded by my daughter.
He thrives as a perennial somehow,
and last year’s Clam is fatter, fatter now,
that sac of dirt and vegetables and water.


July 10, 2009

I recognized the shuck in this kid’s act–=
I’d seen my share of carnival routines.
The way he blocked the catwalk through the tract
of towering powerlines and evergreens:
“Ya see up there?” He pointed to a wire
and to a blue gray dove perched all alone,
a glint of feathers in a line of fire.
He reached into his pocket for a stone.
And what a shot. A wrist-snap to a bird
that dropped between the cattails to the boards.
He fetched his prey, he held it, and I heard
a snap beneath his twisting hand. The cords
of heaven snapped as well. They cracked somehow.
I didn’t like this kid or hate him. Then or now.