Sonnet for Olivia by Diane Elayne Dees

Sonnet for Olivia

Your voice was crystal—vintage, not too polished;
it traveled like a current to my heart,
and sometimes left me smiling and astonished,
or fighting tears. Yours was a special art—
a marriage of simplicity and emotion,
that conveyed your love for every living thing;
it filtered through the vastness of the ocean
as a promise we would hear the dolphins sing.
You declared that optimism was a choice,
then you chose it. And so every time you spoke,
your courage was the high note in your voice
that dispensed the gifts of fortitude and hope.
You held on to the end, as you intended;
your time on Earth was nothing short of splendid.

by Diane Elayne Dees

Twitter: @WomenWhoServe

Editor’s Note: This lovely sonnet is a beautiful elegy for hope in the midst of loss.

What We See by Ed Hack

What We See

Amazing what we see—Here’s life again,
the morning says in light, so shadows too.
For things are what they are and what they seem
and what they’re not, and all three views are true.
Our past is shadows cast that do not fade
away. They’re in our children’s DNA,
and thus their children’s too. So what we are
is river flowing by and bottom we
can’t see or even guess. I say a word
that echoes through the story that I am
passed on to me by those I do not know.
A vessel that’s a self, part of a flow
I cannot name but know has brought me here,
to 8:15 and all that I hold dear.

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: This sonnet’s title fools the reader into thinking that what we see is the point, yet the poem encompasses everything else.

Work Until Rain by Ed Hack

Work Until Rain

It rained as soft as loving hands at ease
as afterwards, as sapphire wings that glide
the light-filled air in summer’s sweet release
that offers stricken hearts a gentle guide.
I’d worked until the sky turned dirty gray,
the forecast was correct, then air turned spice,
perfume of heat, macadam, rain—the day
a brew I deeply sniffed, a sudden prize
as unexpected, calming, as loved eyes.
I put my tools away, vac’d saw dust from
the floor, then sat in the garage, surprised
in part the way what is at bottom stuns,
and watched, breathed in the honeyed scent of rain,
and tired and satisfied, I was sustained.

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: This sonnet’s unexpected pivot from stately philosophy to concrete images mirrors the emotion the speaker feels when one suddenly swims up from work to find the world perfectly beautiful.

Shark Facts by Charles Weld

Shark Facts

I’m being quizzed by a nine-year-old about p.s.i.,
how the pounds per square inch of a Bull Sharks’ bite
compare to the jaw’s pressure of a Great White
Shark. I guess one hundred, and get an amused sigh
which means I’m way off. “Higher”, he says, as I go
up in increments, a little too halting and slow
for his liking. “Higher,” he urges, then impatiently
gives me the answer. Six hundred plus for the Great
White, a thousand or more for the Bull. After that, he
begins to ask about each animal’s length and weight.
And I think of Thoreau’s sentence—Let us not underrate
the value of a fact—that he wrote in an early book review,
each, a surveyor’s stake, put down to help us arbitrate
the vastness, and, with some luck, find our way through.

by Charles Weld

Editor’s Note: This sonnet somehow manages to capture the curiosity of a child while also paying homage to an adult’s need for order. By the end, the reader remembers to enjoy the wonder that some facts offer.

Yard Sale by Devon Balwit

Yard Sale

Day one was an honest mistake. Eight hours
selling junk unearthed from the basement,
and I never thought to market my verse—

my hard-won collections surely of a different
sort than ugly sweaters and old records.
And people were buying—neighbors and strangers went

home satisfied. Day two, I made sign boards:
Got poetry? Support a local artist.
I prettified a basket and set it out towards

the street. The covers were nice, the titles suggestive.
You can guess how the story ends. Two sales.
True, it was Sunday. Fewer people passed.

In my hope, I had forgotten what’s proven the rule:
poetry is mostly for the poet—that lonely fool.

by Devon Balwit

Editor’s Note: This poem’s slant rhyme lulls the reader into thinking that the perhaps the speaker isn’t sonnetizing at all, but then the last two lines fool everyone back into reality.

Passing by Ed Hack

Passing

The mournful early morning rain-soaked train
call softened by the sodden air calls through
the woods then vanishes like midnight rain
that pounded down so we don’t miss what’s true—
we’re tethered by a fine silk thread that’s strong
as life but snaps when fate decrees and we
go to the dark where we began. Our song
now sung, if song it was, we are set free
and disappear from light and day and night
from voices that we love, from coffee’s smell,
from everything we are and sense, the sight
of sky and bird and grass, the witch’s spell
of life. Today, a mother, wife, and friend
will pass into that dark that has no end.

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: This sonnet speaks of grief, and the sudden, shocking realization that life is short.

Gooseberry Island at Sunset by Marybeth Rua-Larsen

Gooseberry Island at Sunset

There isn’t a beach, just rocks the size of small
regrets. They’re flat and long enough for two.
The water’s deep, and swimming, as we knew,
would be a danger. Instead, we stumble, crawl
along and find our spot. Like snakes, we ball
together, gather warmth amidst a slew
of crying gulls, and watch the sun fall through
its day to meet the ocean near the seawall.
This is our quiet place. We’re not too old
or stubborn to repent for our misdeeds.
We’re not afraid of words, the bitter or harsh.
Our fangs have dulled, and we’ve made tiny toeholds
on the slipperiest of rocks. Our needs
are simple. We’ll sit here until it’s dark.

by Marybeth Rua-Larsen, first published in Crannóg

Editor’s Note: The first sentence of this sonnet grabs the reader’s attention and doesn’t let go.

Rubbernecking by Coleman Glenn

Rubbernecking

Beyond the median, a crumpled frame,
Police lights, acrid smoke. So now it’s clear
Why two miles back the interstate became
A shuffling carpet queued for a premiere.
I try to keep my gaze ahead; with luck,
Delays like this will soon be obsolete,
When cruise control ensures each car and truck
Can keep its steady progress down the street,
Immune to horror’s all-too-human hold
On those who cannot help but slow and see;
Creating distance, comforting and cold,
From the appalling possibility
That vehicles on both sides of the line
Contain, in fragile flesh, lives just like mine.

by Coleman Glenn

Twitter: @colemanglenn

Editor’s Note: This sonnet captures the moment of realization where mortality and curiosity mingle together uncomfortably.

Its Part by Ed Hack

Its Part

The trees await the wind, the grass the light
and shadows that it brings, the sky, the birds’
swift, acrobatic flights, and we the bright
attention of our love before a word
is said. On coldest days of ice and snow,
the world a hermitage of winter rest,
when trees strip down to bone and rivers slow,
love has made a freezing room a nest.
And here it is, at last, the spring, though sun
is fickle as a doubting mind. Yet blue,
the soul’s sweet cloak, has now at last begun
to show up almost every day, renew
our spirit’s hope, the veteran old heart’s
deep dream that love will always play its part.

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: Sonnets come in many flavors, but this poem’s classic ode to both love and the seasons will soothe even the most jaded of readers.

. . .a distance / not yet thought of by Ed Hack

. . .a distance / not yet thought of
—Norman MacCaig

Inside the light, beyond the wind, far past
a child on a bike whose joy is go
and go and go, are distances that last
as long as hope, the only prayer we know.
No unbelievers in the crowd, logic-
ians in the anteroom. No saints to
sanctify a minute’s grace. No magic fish
to feed a crowd, for everything is new,
and that’s enough. There is no argument
or policy, diplomacy or war.
What’s there is one long road whose sole intent
is what-comes-next, an ocean or a star.
The only mantra is a child’s laugh,
which lasts because it simply cannot last.

by Ed Hack

Editor’s Note: This sonnet’s graceful meter and slant rhymes beautifully frame the sentiment within—a child’s joy is both ephemeral and priceless.