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Sonnet 20: Prayer to the Desert Sun

Our Highest, distant light immaculate,
imperial sun, give rest to us! Forgive
whatever fault you find to us, but let
us find relief from you so we might live.

Our life, imperfect in your endless sight
on high, might perfect be if you permit
a drop of softest shadow, liquid night,
to stain this world, profane the clean of it.

Your Majesty, illuminate, condemns
this wide domain to desert waste and dry,
though free of blemish, free of life, of stems
or roots or rot. Here perfect gravestones lie.

Now I rebel and build a garden here
for all, fair Eden watered by my tear.


Sonnet 19: Gospel According to Fire

And on I flare, 'cross blank fresh-open'd page
of sky. Away, vague clouds of doubt! I sear
this line of day from night, a golden age
of sun for Eden free from hope or fear.

A chapter new, on Sinai's peak I burn
the bush and then commandments forged so bright
in sculpted text, that wand'ring flock can learn
to live within this maze of law, of light.

No one bright line, no ten-fold flame-etched rules,
no library of candle glow could raise
this flock, so shepherd comes with gentle pools
of fire to baptize with forgiving blaze.

'Tis not for me to write where you can go.
Your paths you light yourselves by warm love's glow.


Sonnet 18: From First Faint Drops

From first faint drops of rain I drip along
your gentle sloping roofs, your silhouette,
brash lustrous gleaming spires that stand so strong
so often in those dreams I can't forget.

Now close, I see where tears of grime endure,
small quiet sobs dried dark where should be clear.
I rush, caress with rivulets to cure
that oldest ailment: loneliness. I'm here.

Rejoined with blust'ring gale we rush on through,
about each other reveling in old
familiar tenderness, enchanting new
discovery, whate'er our futures hold.

But winds still blow, and gentle rain drops fade,
each one an offering at Love's feet laid.


Sonnet 17: Gospel According to Earth

Yet I remain, when crude brown-knuckled root
of Eden's weeds weaves tight across my skin,
when gentle breath the dusty clouds begin
to shape: two forms entrapp'd by thought-fill'd fruit.

Yet I remain, as Abraham obeys
and binds his only son to rocky face,
my face, I weep soft blood 'neath pyre's blaze
as lamb instead is slain by heaven's grace.

Yet I remain, with endless barren seeds
of graves sown shallow 'cross my aching chest,
'til one gives fruit and rises, leads
with lonely words: the merciful are bless'd.

This fruit and blood and seed of yours contain
but dust. No, our dust, shared so we remain.


Sonnet 16: We Will

Oh child, so new to strange still world of ours,
you play, you move, you live to beating tune
that beats within as yet unstrained by scars
of joy. Just know, that we will raise you soon.

Oh youth, now scarred and righteous, caked with blood
and joy, you shout, you know that you're immune
to age. With banners high, a rising flood,
fight on and on so we will change things soon.

Oh age, you've seen our strange faint world too still.
Yet constant writhings 'neath small changes fate
our times, your eyes, to peace and silence 'til
you know that "soon" means we will be too late.

Oh life, you live! You can't be made to bow,
just know that we will, we will rock you now!


Sonnet 15: Gospel According to Air

Those pregnant words of "Let There Be ..." rang out,
each gust of meaning blown so harsh through me,
for six rushed days Creation whirled about
this world, my cage. I'd once been nameless free.

He whipped my winds up high when Moses cried
to let His people go. Not Life but Death
I bore upon dark shadow wings, denied
to Pharaoh proud his son’s pure breath.

Then whispers gently filled with love I felt
in Promised Land. I promised Him I'd keep
my word, His Word alive for all. He knealt
a shepherd, softly silent with his sheep.

That love & life lasts long within my air,
renewed by breaths, each one a puff of prayer.


Sonnet 14: Gospel According to Water

And I was boundless twisting clean black void
o’er which first golden light was let before
I split apart and dirt-made-land destroyed
that liquid clarity & peace I held no more.

Soon I returned to cleanse all but a few,
to fly a stinking living crowded ark
to safety dry upon that dirt made new.
I’d been so simple pure in pre-light dark.

But now this flood of life was here to stay,
and Son of Man was bathed & birthed so fair
beneath my waves. His wine blood cup a ray
of life before he drowned in cross-high air.

I’d once been all there was. Now all you here...
I’ll wash our living world with rain, and tear.


Sonnet 13: No Such Thing

There's no such thing as stories new and yet
we tend our garden plot of tales by pen.
We prune, we plant, we pray but can't forget
each blossom's come before, and will again.

We sow each little seed of nothingness
so deep beneath our woven thoughts. We know
the brave young sprouts can't rise toward light unless
they've warmth and honest love enough to grow.

Fresh rivers clear of readers' minds rush by,
each brush of eye to page a gentle drip
of life so soon the proud new blooms let fly
seeds of their own, 'neath waiting pens to slip.

We've learned there's no such thing as stories old.
Each one is born afresh each time it's told.


Sonnet 12: Shake

Yes all they see are too-late nights stretch'd out,
with too-fast changing of a whirlwind cast
beside me on our stage. But, all about
orchestral strains assure me to the last.

My movement's sure, now quick, now languidly.
No audience can know which step I've made
a thousand times before. Each new for me,
each one an offering at Love's feet laid.

And now, my one-time love does bring his new
to join for just a turn ere music ends.
But here I chose to dance, to myself true,
that truth now shared with one my love transcends.

The players must still play, heartbreakers break.
For me, I know, I'll shake and shake and shake.


Sonnet 11: Sunset

And I am brightest sunset: last and first
and only. Since the start of Earth's slow spin,
I’ve stood alone to stem the steady burst
of day and watch night's subtle dark sink in.

Your heroes ride triumphant on toward me.
They chase, though never catch more than a glance
'fore night, with customary lock and key,
does chain them quick beneath star-pricked expanse.

I know my place. It's here pinned at the line
between two worlds. I know I have no right
to see the noonday sun through cirrus fine,
or peaceful moon on calm, once clouded, night.

I know my love, the dawn, I'll never see.
Give dawn this tenderness I've left in thee.


Sonnet 10: Across the River

Across the river, lights sit deathly still.
Their dim reflected ghosts dance down below
with secrets and unspoken words to fill
the hearts and oceans where they're bound to flow.

High seas and tempests surely now must shine
with all the bright and sparkling rubbish from
the memories dump'd off the coasts that line
our thoughts, our worlds, our stories yet to come.

New islands rise up on these heaps built tall
on frothy thoughts and heady mimicries
that once so gently fell downstream, now fall
in place to cast their own light to the breeze.

Adrift on rivers, searching a path through,
I think I'll build from light a raft for two.


Sonnet 9: My Katya's Walk

My Katya's walk begins just as she finds
herself upon an empty cobbled street.
"But where to go?", she asks. Her mind quick winds
down alleys dark. No answer it will meet.

Soft voices faint, from city walls, come free
and join my Katya on her cautious way.
"But where am I?", she asks. "You're here, with me.
Now let's move on," the quiet voices say.

Past curtains, but deserted stages bare,
and shades, blank never-written books, they pass.
"But who am I", she asks. The windows share
her reverie, reflection, in their glass.

At last, back at the start, though she's ne'er been,
my Katya's walk she ends at home. END SCENE.


Sonnet 8: Words

A claustrophobia of words sets in,
encasing us and posing us, too tight.
Our minds, imposing thoughts to sounds, begin
to drift and settle deep in self-made night.

Enclosing walls of common words abound
from flowing history's assembly line.
Bespoke new sayings, turns of phrase surround,
protect us too from what they true define.

The sun and rain and time erode away
what ragged, too-sharp edges sit exposed.
And we, within, carve steadily the way
out from our careful words' walls closed.

And when we ever reach beyond our cave,
we'll see but self-made light that language gave.


Sonnet 7: To Read the Lines

I wish I'd never learned to read the lines
that trickle crystal clear across your face.
In your eyes first I saw the haunting signs,
and then the eyes of all the human race.

Back far upstream, I knew not what they meant.
A sailor's lines once had a striking bend;
next day his ship was lost. An accident,
they said. His lines, I knew, foretold his end.

Now that I knew, I saw them all around:
old widow's lips, young babe's cheeks ivory.
Each tells me when they'll float life's river down,
in half a day, a year, a century.

It's your eyes first in which I found the line.
But in my mirror clear, there's not a sign.


Sonnet 6: [Re]Searching Deep

Far better luck would I have searching deep
within the forests of the night than in
the branching trees of references that keep
their secrets hid. But now must I begin.

First this tree points to that grove over there.
But cited works not always clearly call
the fact they're cited for. Now near despair,
I truly need to talk with sage 'et al.'

With search terms armed, not bibliography,
a new path out I set. There's evidence
I'm lost again, or worse, unluckily,
a paper renders mine irrelevance.

One day another's trees will point to mine.
They'll likely skip what's past my second line.

2021-05-01 (Updated 2021-05-03)

Sonnet 5: When Spring Clouds

We always know when spring clouds are to come,
for puddles seep up from the ground to drip
on skyward with a splash. The flower from
his fulsome bloom folds tight in bud's green grip.

As freshness fades, then winter drifts up flow
and freeze and fly. The snow banks quick ascend
to heavens as a rush of white. There's no
ovation long enough. The bowing trees unbend.

To take snow's place, the new brown leaves adorn
blank empty trees. They crinkle as they drift,
and once secured they fade to green. Once torn,
they mend. Night's withered grass the sun will lift.

With rains and snows and leaves we raise our eyes,
and wonder how will we be called to rise.


Sonnet 4: My Bright Reflection

My bright reflection leads me on a walk.
His image is the clearer for the wind
that ripples 'cross his face. I turn to talk
and ask his name, but he moves on unpinned.

My shadow now unmoors herself and on
she goes alone. She sways and surges past
the moon's light tides before the distant dawn.
I hadn't thanked her yet. I thought she'd last.

I move too fast, abandoned in my tracks,
as trains in tunnels can but toward the light.
But now, without a change, my vision cracks.
I have no body left me in the night.

What's left of me lives on within this text.
Reflection's gone, then shadow, form. What next...


Sonnet 3: The Sonnet's Rules

The sonnet's rules do guarantee no pure
or rippling verse. Cheap rhymes like this allow
the basic quatrain's flow to long endure,
when with strategic line breaks joined as now.

Excessive monosyllables permit
the meter to be met too easily.
Stress'd iambs, offset trochees, all submit
as feet bound to their path obediently.

But such a forc-ed path is empty, bare,
for metaphors, like wilted flowers weak
on gravesides, note that long ago a care
was taken once. Dead stems no longer speak.

The couplet, though, does give a chance: to turn
it on its head, or for the scribe to learn.


Sonnet 2: Shall I Compare Thee to a Night in Lab?

Shall I compare thee to a night in lab?
I stare far longer on the shifting shades
of screens encircled by their beige walls drab
than on your constant eyes as sunset fades.

What sparks I feel caressing down your arm
arrest me less than those that circuits leap.
And though your still small breaths do my heart charm,
from wheezing stalling motors my veins creep.

Our whispered conversations fill my dreams,
as nights we stretch out side by side unlit.
But when I wake and find the piled reams
of papers to review I want to quit.

Though endless both seem, school and our love fast,
it is but our time that will truly last.


Sonnet 1: My Thesis Text

My thesis text looks nothing like it ought.
"Results" to my "Conclusions" hardly flow,
for each transition, tenuous and taut,
would snap if stress'd more than a glancing blow.

"Citations" is too strong a word by far
to name the weak coincidence of all
the papers cross'd my desk to meet the bar
of relevance. But, so must I them call.

My figures lie all in a disarray,
and no array of subplots can disguise
the ambiguities that 'neath them lay.
The cliffs of "Future Work" before me rise.

Yet, by a stroke of my advisor's pen,
I know it never will be read again.