Sonnet to negotiate peace with your dementia by Tracy Lee Karner

Sonnet to negotiate peace with your dementia

You’re dozing in your rocker, feet planted.
You clutch the chair’s arms, appearing prepared
for the shock of bad news, your neck slanted
head jutting forward. Oh my dear gray scared
bird, while invisible worms still burrow
you stop searching for a table to hold
your reading glasses. And then you furrow
your forehead, begin to snore. You turn old.
The unread want ads lie on your stomach.
They rise and fall between us as we breathe.
Will I tell you? No, I’d rather mimic
you now, observe in silence all that seethes.
I thought I might explain why we’re broken.
But sleep. This, too, will remain unspoken.

by Tracy Lee Karner

Twitter: @TracyLeeKarner

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Editor’s Note: This poem delicately offers a glimpse into the slow loss of a person. It’s all the more poignant because the narrator’s emotions are strong, but kept in check by love.

Over the Edge by David Stephenson

Over the Edge

The wind was strong and at our back all day
So we sped merrily across a sea
Awash with floating patches of debris,
Mostly planks and oars and castaway
Crates and sea chests, and sometimes a stray
Capsized lifeboat, thudding sluggishly
Against our hull with tiresome frequency
And spinning and foundering on the ricochet.

The boats they sent to stop us have turned back
And there are no birds trailing in our wake;
We sail beyond the maps and charts alone.
And now the waters swirl and skies grow black
And in the distance vast waves rise and break
And we are doomed. If only we had known.

by David Stephenson

Editor’s Note: This sonnet offers the reader a bleak situation. It isn’t until the closing lines that the metaphor becomes real.

San Diego Sky by Jean L. Kreiling

San Diego Sky

At first you doubt the San Diego sky—
you think such perfect blue is bound to fail—
but there’s no limit to the vast supply
of azure backdrop for white sand and sail.
It seems the palms stand tall just to be near
that crisp cerulean consistency,
where sunshine polishes the atmosphere
with warmly steadfast luminosity.
Blue graciously recedes at close of day,
and for a passing shower now and then,
but at Balboa Park or on the bay
or by the piers, blue soon prevails again.
There’s not a lot on which you can rely.
but you can trust the San Diego sky.

by Jean L. Kreiling

Editor’s Note: This ekphrastic sonnet slips the reader seamlessly into San Diego with imagery that is clear and descriptive, but not melodramatic. The scene is restful, as is the poem.

Photo by Jean L. Kreiling

Vintage verse – Sonnet 54 by William Shakespeare

O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,
By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye
As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
Hang on such thorns and play as wantonly
When summer’s breath their masked buds discloses:
But, for their virtue only is their show,
They live unwoo’d and unrespected fade,
Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;
Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made:
And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
When that shall fade, my verse distills your truth.

by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Demeter of the Ex-Urb by Devon Balwit

Demeter of the Ex-Urb

No blade, but a bract, rasped edges
ranged towards danger, tip observant,

mistress of spathe, spikelet, glume
and peduncle, I stand my ground,

a Demeter of the ex-urb, a goddess
of the small plot, my fool, a darting

hummingbird, my heckler, a crow,
croaking from the shadowing,

my green fuse stutter-stepping—
paling to the point of guttering,

barbarian weeds already creeping—
and then re-flaring, fierce in a campaign

of ripped roots, a flailing of the blunt
trowel, me blinded by brow-sweat.

(after Cristina Troufa’s painting Espada)

by Devon Balwit

Editor’s Note: The complexity of the images and nod to classical mythology gives this poem weight beyond that of a simple narrative, yet the final line reminds the reader that we are all only human.

Vintage verse – Sonnet 102 by William Shakespeare

My love is strengthen’d, though more weak in seeming;
I love not less, though less the show appear;
That love is merchandized whose rich esteeming
The owner’s tongue doth publish everywhere.
Our love was new, and then but in the spring
When I was wont to greet it with my lays;
As Philomel in summer’s front doth sing,
And stops her pipe in growth of riper days:
Not that the summer is less pleasant now
Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night,
But that wild music burthens every bough
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.
Therefore like her, I sometime hold my tongue,
Because I would not dull you with my song.

by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

We found an unexploded mine that day by Deirdre Parkes

We found an unexploded mine that day

We found an unexploded mine that day
and stared so much we let the ocean creep
to wet our feet before we ran away.

How would it be if courage let us stay
inside that story that wasn’t ours to keep?
We found an unexploded mine that day.

There was no one there to warn us, to say
how cold the water was, how deep.
We wet our feet before we ran away.

That debt of blood wasn’t ours to pay.
We should have been at home in bed, asleep.
We found an unexploded mine that day.

Older feet than ours were left in clay
like fossil footsteps, frozen in mid leap.
We wet our feet before we ran away.

The summer sky turned suddenly to grey.
The country lanes turned desolate and steep.
We found an unexploded mine that day
and wet our feet before we ran away.

by Deirdre Parkes

Editor’s Note: This villanelle uses repetition to chilling effect—the unexploded mine feels as if it is about to explode, or has already exploded (emotionally).