Sometimes, as now, the light’s enough, the sun
behind a massive cloud that sweeps like sea
across the blue. The birds are still; songs sung,
they’re quiet, gone. The tree and stream agree
that silence is what’s needed now—as if,
for this brief once, the clock has stopped. On hold,
the sky, the leaves, white flash of wings—this is
the world as poem upon a page, untold.
The fan still whirrs, and that is all I hear,
like water far away. The books that burst
with languages are dumb, and each appears
exactly as it is. The world’s been purged
of Time. Is this a warning or a gift?
I think it’s both, like any granted wish.
by Ed Hack
Editor’s Note: Careful punctuation creates space in this sonnet for the reader to breathe in the imagery and worry woven into the lines.
Editor’s Addendum: Please accept my most humble apologies for the incorrect attribution given to the previous post of this poem. I messed up, and I am very sorry.
She views the world through touch. Faint throbs of thread
relay what prey is trapped, what class of mate
draws near, what bird has come to satiate
its greedy gut. The ring of string has spread
like ripples on a pond. Inside her head
a tiny brain unravels all the facts.
Her spokes have spoken to her. She reacts
quick as a wingbeat. Will she be well-fed?
One evening, groping through a grove, you mangle
the moonlit sanctuary of some spinner
serenely poised to pounce upon her dinner.
Face full of filaments, you watch her dangle
then disappear. You flee the fangs of night,
not knowing she’s too sensible to bite.
by Martin J. Elster
Editor’s Note: This sonnet begins with a mystery (who is this creature?), but soon enough, we realize that a spider is the central character terrifying the speaker.
In A Shepherd Hut: An acrostic sonnet
I bought a shepherd hut, where I could write—
Not being buttonholed, nor reached by phone—
And parked it in my garden, out of sight,
So all the world would leave me well alone.
Here I would craft a novel or a play,
Entirely undisturbed by daily chores,
Protected from distractions night and day …
However, once I hid behind its doors,
Excruciating writer’s block attacked
Relentlessly, until I came to see
Distractions served the food for thought I lacked—
Hermitic exile fed no muse for me! …
Up to my study’s bustle I returned
To write—and sell the hut, my lesson learned!
by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons
Editor’s Note: Every writer knows that distraction is the enemy of the mind, but sometimes the very thing that we think is going to solve that problem becomes the problem, as this hilarious sonnet demonstrates.
A kind of stroke you never have to learn,
it comes installed already like the long
lazy crawl you practiced in the womb
before you could even breathe. Your feet go down,
your head goes up, like someone standing
up in water, or trying to, like someone
who’s forgotten everything they’ve ever known
about how to float, how to keep on living
in this world. You stick your arms up, waving
about for help. You stretch your mouth wide open
for a final breath or two. You turn
streamlined as a fish, a stone, then something
grabs you from below and, like a midwife,
pulls you, gasping, backwards out of life.
by Ciaran Parkes
Editor’s Note: This sonnet’s brilliant enjambment almost fools you into believing that all will be well, but as the title states, this particular stroke of the pen ends in tragedy.
The maple limbs sprout tight-bound nubs
Of burgundy. Green scissors through
The withered grass. The once-trimmed shrubs
Shag out new licks of growth askew.
Here on the cusp of day and spring
We sit and window-watch a jay
Pick suet seeds, shake loose a wing,
Tuck up and tumble off away.
Bright eager light spills on it all,
An augur of the gilded boom
To come: the buzz, the pollen fall,
The flowering cascades of bloom.
How can we think of work and school
Now that each dewy dab’s a jewel?
by Steven Knepper
Editor’s Note: This sonnet contains a bounty of startling imagery, perfect rhymes, and skillful meter. Such poems are a joy to read.
Waldeinsamkeit: An acrostic sonnet
When you’re alone and walking through the trees,
Anxieties and worries fade away.
Leaves fluttering in springtime’s gentle breeze
Disturb no creature’s thoughts. And if you stray
Entirely off the beaten path, you know
It’s safe to chill inside your green cocoon.
No city dangers threaten where you go.
Street noises are displaced by nature’s tune.
And when the light grows dim, and you are drawn
Meanderingly to the EXIT word,
KEEP OFF THE GRASS signs by your city lawn
Erupt into your thoughts, and seem absurd! …
Inside the forest, far from city sounds,
Tranquillity in solitude abounds.
by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons
Editor’s Note: The human ability to create a word for every emotion never fails to impress, as this sweet poem demonstrates. (Waldeinsamkeit: (poetic) woodland solitude; the feeling of solitude in the woods)
Untamed, your modest April limbs can lead
to pies and heady ciders, dumplings shaped
to give the blush to Johnny Appleseed.
Your fame proceeds by way of bees who shed
your pollen yard by yard, a profligate
procession as the Fall from Eden tours
midsummer’s eve. When you play hard to get
the future’s caught up in your suckers, whorls,
and water sprouts—your fruit diverted by
ambition. That’s OK, we’ve all been led
astray chasing some sun, some destiny
prolonged that keeps us from the one given
today. Fresh underfoot. That keeps us strange
in our own skin. Wondering if we can change.
by Ed Granger
Editor’s Note: This sonnet’s ode to the apple tree elevates the simplicity of the tree and its fruit from pie to philosophy.
The decades creep, then—suddenly—rush by,
like sand you try to hold, until a storm
blows through and sends it, scattered, toward the sky.
The breeze upon your skin is not as warm,
and the tides approach too fast. You walk the path
you always walked, but it doesn’t feel the same.
You take the one you think might lead to truth,
you search the sand and hope to see your name.
But we are all like waves—-part of the ocean;
we touch the shore, then get pulled back just when
we think we have our footing. Then our passion
to have it make sense drags us back again.
Like all the other waves, we must recede,
and trust the ocean’s wild, capricious speed.
by Diane Elayne Dees
Editor’s Note: This Shakespearean sonnet speaks of the human condition via metaphor because what else could possibly encompass the vagaries of life?
—after the painting by Alex Colville
His wife asked him to listen, so he does—
his straight-backed chair encouraging attention
as she plays Brahms. He can’t say when it was
she last made this request; they hardly mention
their private interests to each other now,
so he’s a little baffled. But he sits
respectfully, while marveling at how
the dog naps right through all the noisy bits,
snout pointed at the baby grand. Is this
the “living” called for by this room—this hour
of patient joylessness, this fear he’ll miss
something that he should love? Brahms has no power
to move him. Though his wife plays earnestly,
the notes only confound him. So does she.
by Jean L. Kreiling
Editor’s Note: This ekphrastic sonnet depicts a relationship of resignation delicately paired with love that has grown comfortable, even if the chair in which the speaker sits is not. Please click through to see the painting via the link.
I’m old, but I was glad to move my den.
My humans made my bed next to the fire—
a comfort on these winter mornings when
The South Lawn doesn’t beckon, and the choir
of shutter-clicks and shouted questions wear
me down. These days I run my best in dreams;
let Major ’s woofing end up on the air.
This good boy understands that all regimes
begin and then they end. You humans choose
your dogs and cats and Presidents, and put
them in this house to charm the world—or snooze,
like me, the dog who didn’t break Joe’s foot.
Real wisdom’s seldom something loud and fleet.
An old dog knows the fireside is sweet.
by Christine Potter
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Editor’s Note: Doggie wisdom is always more intelligible than the blather humans tell each other.