Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Sonnet #313

The time the grapes are ready is the time
The mockingbird comes hunting in
The tangle of the vine and trellis lines
A dart and hop and hunt and climb

I see the bird and he sees me, we speak
A language of possession old as life
In a glance, he says the world is strife
And all he sees is ripe is life, he takes

So I allow and see him take and when
He’s full, I clean a bucket, and some shears
And take and take and take and then
When he returns to vines he wears
The gaze of loss, where once was friend
And all the grapes are mine. And he stares.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Sonnet #312

I have a kind of restlessness that wakes
Me up before the dog, like a possum
I wander in the dark outside before daybreak
And sweat away the anxious dreams that come
When I am still awake, they chase me down
The street, and hide in shadows, passing cars
I hear the bad dreams barking and forlorn
Against the fence line, and the black fast dart
Of cats, all black in streetlight shadows, racing
Under cars, I walk until my dreams don’t hurt
Or at least until my legs hurt more, from pacing
They follow in the darkness, cling upon my shirt
Bad dreams, bad dreams, I wish to negotiate
A peaceful treaty, we’ll break bread on broken plates

Monday, June 15, 2020

Sonnet #311

A wise man told me to live for work
Never kill time, because my will
To rise up and make my mark fills
Me up and time’s shadow, death, always smirks
But I waste what I want, and encourage the same
Your work will falter, too, and when it does
It won’t matter whether you were in the throes
Of genius, driven and strong, or if your quiet name
Relaxed into ease and infamy. Diadems drop
As wise women sing, and our walk sends
Every moments’ step into a virgin snowfall, so stop,
Drink the wine, and ease into a fine, cool autumn
be kind enough to time and death that when it is the when
You can laugh and have a brandy with them

Sonnet #310

The traveling bards that hide in the trees
Ask so little of us who love their songs
Trees and flowers and keep the cats inside too long
If you can, and leave the garden be
The jubilee season, they journey south and sing to all
The songs they share as they go
Their gaudy costumes, their nimble dances, the show
All the world is a stage, the leaf curtain falls
The spotlight leans into their beautiful glow
Time the thief who gathers sins
Say this: say I’m weary, say I’m slow
Say the earth declines where I set in
I set some seed out, planted trees and flowers
The birds in their passing sing my hours

Sonnet #309

What memorial stone will we place
Where glaciers fade into the sea and all
The trees collapse into the barren soil
And burn -- we stand alone upon the face
Of stone, digging down to caves to save
The tiny pieces of our world that can be kept
In darkness, there, and no one else has wept
About the dead for quite some time. We’ll brave
The darkness, there, and eat the rocks
And carve memorials with broken teeth
To all the creatures we devoured, these blocks
Will stand until they erode or begin to breathe
No doubt we will invent some realism
And build and paint some glaciers in some convenient chasm.

Sonnet #308

In the park, there is a trail that runs through woods
It’s paved and there are bridges over rocks
The trees along the path are pruned and blocks
Prevent the mud from flowing like it would
It’s such a simple thing to see the seasons
Step out onto the trail, there’s wooded lines
There the flowers bloom and snakes unwind
And trees blossom, seed, then come undone
My son rides quiet on this trail, there’s deer
The dogs pass through, he smiles and calls out
The birds rise with sunlight, cicadas there

I took my son to church and he knew nothing
And I knew nothing, and they all knew nothing.

Sonnet #307

When the trains came to this country
They blew holes through mountains

The tracks ran on blood and misery
And everyone cheered them on the plains
I imagine a country with no tracklines laid
No highways carving cliffs of construction
That rise above the grass sea and river braids
A place as empty of us, some dirt tracks run
A few old blacktops twisting from river towns
In one hundred years this will be how it’s done
When planes fly to coastlines and cities, and drown

Among the dust where people move on who had cheered
The mountains bear the scars a thousand years

Sonnet #306

Coyotes know the streets, just so, they know
The nights when lanes are clear
They know the lights change and the fears
When engines rumble in the hills and grow
My friends, my romans, countrymen, you want to know your streets?
Tag coyote where she sleeps, and let
Her walk the night, where quiet footpaws set
And tag the cats and tag the dogs and watch their feet
The streets are only borrowed by all that step
Even we who build and claim to own do not
Own ground: we walk in daylight drive
In all hours and only for a moment hold our spot
And never see a corner or a place where thrive
Seeps in from forests, where wild things plot
Adventures unimagined, life and death
A story of familiar homes where mysteries breathe

*(Author's note: I think sonnets can be a little or short as needed. Still works like a sonnet.)

Sonnet #305

We walk in shadows in our heads
We stumble blind from room to room
As the shin bumps we learn our path to bed
This is a metaphor for how we speak and groan
It’s a symbol, of course, this living in a house
With other people in it, where we walk in the dark
Squint into the slanted light and seek a spouse
We will bump into each other, soft and hard
So these familiar steps will bend towards painless paths
Our fellow housemates bump and wander, and lest
The metaphor extend too far beyond the grass
Of night, let’s just say the dark must be addressed
And all who speak will claim the path ahead
Always sing out where future footfalls lead

Sonnet #304

The solution is so simple but if only were complex
If all we have to do to save ourselves
Is slow down, plant trees, garden, live well
Stop driving for a while, and have respect,
It seems so simple, plant a tree a day and then
Stop driving for a while, eat at home
From the garden, where joyfully grown,
And then we save the world, so simple, yet
Better it be some feat of engineering
Some massive construct moonbase crypto bet
Better it be a scheme so wild and difficult in constant steering
Make it visible from space and take a global bond debt

Make it corporate, make it loud, make it swallow workers whole
Only these salvations are permitted to the bold

Sonnet #303

Reclining in the lime leaves, still as stone,
The green anole lizard dreams, smiling
To sleep among the citrus trees, reclining
Where smell resolve the nightmares as they come,

I walked before the twilight turning lights 
on as I went, a violation of the calming sky
The creatures of the moon came up to try
and climb into the lightbulbs and the bright

Blessed darkness, we will always break the veil
And even into shadows of the sky we send our drones
We reach against the death to kill what kills
And analyze the dreams that hide in bones
But the reclining lizard dreams and smiles so still
Just wait, he sighs, for all light and heat will come 

Sonnet #302

Will the birds remember me, when my garden runs to ruin?
The grapevines wild and rambling free, the trees
So wide and beckoning, I will be
Standing in a shadow of a kingdom’s come,

And birds, my friends of fair weather, passing
As wind and rains roll on, my friends who come
They take what they need and then fly on
And I stand at the window, watching them wrestling

For a place to stand among the powerlines

Do they know how much I love them?

Do they know the quiet glow of joy unwind,

With the cardinals’ flash of red and pigeons’ waddling zen,

In some shadow kingdom, the eye of god will be a bird
And it will, indifferent to me, speak a single word.

Sonnet #301

If all the chickens in all the silos were set free
some survive a little longer and walk in moonlight 
and daylight and dappled forest shade and fight
down into the roots and live, we would see
More chickens than we could ever devour
More birds than any man could ever take
Of course there would be damage and break
Where niches in the web of life would sour
But think, set free, loose and limber and running
where all the corners of the meadows hold them
How these birds would swell in numbers, sunning
on rocks, stunning in bright feathers, hunting, feeding them
who hunt, an abundance beyond the work of man
Two birds in the bush is worth more than one in the hand.

Sonnet #300

Once I stood in a market square before the town 
Was ready to wake up, and the cathedral rang her bells
I stopped and listened and waited for the chime and swell
To decay, a gorgeous song, a ritual of sound
That marks a city holy; and when it died away
The pigeons cooed again, returned to rafters,
The windows opened up and all that rattled plaster
of the old city shook loose the night's dust and gray
If the bells ring, and no one is there to hear it...?
If there is someone there, who remembers the bells,
But no bells remain, how will the echo bear it?
To stand in the quiet morning, once, to know, to tell.
I swear upon the empty rooms, all music echoes still
The winds of time will carry all sweet whispers down to still