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

Sonnet #299

I mow the grass, and grass regrows, and grows
We dust the furniture of course, we must
And sweep, But next week there’ll be more dust
And I plucked the rose and placed in vase but the rose

Will wilt the week away, and die as plain
To be replaced again by next week’s rose
And all the furnishings will wear in my repose
Where my body presses down and causes strain

We wear down, we wear down, we wear all the way
In factories workers walk into fire dressed like spacemen
At home they shower off the sweat and hear radios play
The music plays a song and plays that song again
That brilliant singer travels to another town to play
And every week we raise a god from death in bread and wine

Sonnet #298

Heads you win - Tails I lose, so all that's left
Is to hope the coin lands on its side
And sticks there, a lucky break, my ride
to greatness counts on this, no theft
Just legal limbo in the corners of the rules
Where you and I can tie a little, and I
can take a little bit of what you hide
And the rules you write for me, my tools
Otherwise must belong to you and work
To make you richer, but I pay to toss the coin
My entry fee is paid, and I will never shirk
My duties, but I'm feeling lucky, and I think I'll join
Your club if this coin lands just so, I smirk
before you throw it up, because I believe in coins
When I'm one of you, I'll call the unlucky ones jerks

Sonnet #297

The only place the cardinal hides in red
Is when the pomegranate blooms have come in
Those huge dresses burning red and cardinal’s flapping wings

For all the year, he waited for a safe spot screaming red

And for this brief moment in the tree, he has hid,

For all the year and turnings, I have waited for this day

When I could hide inside a the brightness forgotten, unseen, I say

What truth I need, and it drowns in other words and other ways

For this brief moment, I am no one worth to know

A voice among the wilderness, where I, in quiet, pray

To keep these flowers I have gathered here, and what seeds I sow

And when these bright flowers turn to fruit, my hiding will decay

And all my songs will call the wicked hunters to my home

Sonnet #296

If someone is going to have a monster, then
I have decided I should have it, first. Why not?
It will follow where I lead it, and menace and cause hurt
To them. It will be my monster. Mine. Before they can.

If we must live in a world of monsters, which we do
And I must live in a world afraid of all of you
And who will get the first monster to do for them and do 
It's best if I have the monster. I'm responsible, you

Will only use a monster to hurt me
So I will hurt you first, this pain I have
This fear, I give it all. The monster howls for me
I feed the monster, pet it, name it, I am brave
The monster will always respect the leash and me

It will bend to me - I'm sure it will - and never turn to leave

Sonnet #295

The trail I ran went under highways, so
I heard the echo of the cars and saw the pillars there
So like cathedrals, these hidden palaces, bare
Of all but holiest of things, stripped back to
Just the drainage water, the algae in the water
The desiccated wrecks of trash and clothes and blown in things
That echo back to life’s use, ghostly things
For ghostly places, where lost priests wander
The stripped back essence of all holy art
I am here, desperately here, this spray paint spectacle
The way the columns hold the sky apart
Where the muscles of the world, the ventricles
Flow so fast, and in those shadows hearts

Echo, lost souls, lost souls, angels of drained potentials

Sonnet #294

The mantis takes the color of flowers,
the shape of leaves and thorn, the hunter
always looks alike to what has power
to seduce the victim close, it's hard to fear
such beauty, the smell in the air of finest 
nectar, the promise of food or drink, all clear;

There are jobs where people do their best
That people ought not to do, folks wind down
Working and falling behind and working and behind
The basilisk waits for us in the million wires grown
where we allow it to grow, the coiling and unwind
in shadow places, in the edges of the law and the known

Approach the flower at your own peril, be wary, be brave

The snapping jaws will close. For retirement, save.

Sonnet #293

If I could explain this slowly to every man and woman
with money, who does not wish to pay for the poor:
You Will Pay More to Hold Them Down If You Do Not Pay For
Giving Them Enough. You will build yourselves golden prisons 
hire armed guards. You'll pay to build a world of panopticons
Because none of them can be trusted if they do not have enough
The cost of policing, surveillance, enforcement, laws so tough
that decent folk fear it, it has a cost in dollars, squatting on
your golden horde is very high. Beyond that cost, you cannot walk
down streets in peace unarmed, you will never know the city
As a place of peace, only as a place where people talk
And power is your only word to share, build your worst kind of pretty
Your empty-eyed children will tremble at your funerary wakes

And the fear you feel could fade with just that little mercy and pity, 

Sonnet #292

The birds have no reason to sing, I think -
The sun rises, song rises, when foraging
Is more important than music, storaging
The extra for a leaner night, and I think
The song reveals the birds to hawks, snakes
To all the hunters of the morning, who hear
Who listen close and move, there’s no fear
Of death when singing, the shimmy and shake
Of their dance among the branches is not
Meant for love, just yet, and even if it was
They sing in all seasons, these birds, not 
Just when spring arrives - there is no because
To songbirds, we are wrong to make their thoughts
With measures meant for music meant for us

When all the songs of morning are sung for no one

Sonnet #291

Things feel wrong all the time, like we
Walked down a road and got lost there
We pretend we are not lost, we see
The way things are like this, the most

We do about this is we say to cowboy up
To strap your big person pants on and work
Until you can’t even think about how we struck
A bargain to begin with that began with so much hurt

I am waiting for my son to wake alone
I can hear the wind blowing outside;
I remember how the parasitic wasps’ bones
Are built upon the agony of a moth child,

When the fig tree beckons, I savor wasps’ work
The tree envelopes, too, becomes the shape it hurts.

Sonnet #290

At evening twilight, walking, I must wonder how 
much of all the grass I see is living, how much a ghost
We do not seek the ghosts of tiny things, no spectral host
Made up of mayflies, tree stumps, blades of grass, flow
of ancient rivers dwindling underground, but the memory
of cities, the echo of that energy, rises greater than man
from space, we see the oldest roads in desert sands 
We see the outline of the walls of other centuries
empires lost to stories, I question whether houses
of all I see, if they have not more than this burned down
And what I see is an illusion of a place, where ghost houses
stand, ghost cities hold a shape in time, and remember how
these things used to be: All the residents are ghosts, all espoused
of their vast kingdoms come from will to remain - illusions, proud

Sonnet #289

There is a time for everything under the moon
A time to toss, a time to turn, a time to think of waking
A time to try water, hot tea, hot milk, to ease the aching
A time to give up on sleep and leave the bedroom

What will I do with this wild and precious darkness?
There's no one here but me. This is my secret place
A garden in darkness, the toad songs and cats' chase
The blowing spring winds carry lost things, in starkness,

There is a season for lost dreams, I hunt them in shadow
Among the shadows, I will find my peace without rest
In watching my weary waking world and dream to know
What darkness called me here to see, what little, what left?
There is a time for everything under the moon, I go
To walk alone along the roadside. Do not follow. This is best.