I like cadenced, rhythmic lines, but rarely use fixed forms. The three poems below are exceptional cases: all, more or less, Shakespearean sonnets. (The first has some tetrameters, but, if you like, you may take more time to read them.) I find at times that the arbitrary requirements of a sonnet lead to unexpected places, allowing me to surprise myself.
The ululation of the wind outdoors,
like bay of some large beast, is charged
with brio by which my own breath’s enlarged.
I’ve swallowed cities, mountains, mice and boars,
bits of facts about some mendicant
five hundred years ago, atomic weights,
exuviae abandoned, Malay straits,
the deer that come at night, a hierophant
of old Eleusis, dust beneath my feet.
Just as gravitation works both ways
love must go back and forth as does
everything I see and hear and eat.
Each sight I see outside my window pane
adds one more thread unto my own self’s skein.
Sonnet: For Fred Hampton and Mark Clark
assassinated by police December 4, 1969
Fred Hampton and Mark Clark are dead today.
for last night with the dark the rats came out.
The dawn was soon to come, still all was grey,
and when the smoke had cleared there was no doubt:
the ancien régime has still some bite;
a man who’ll sell his soul will sell his friends;
and politics, when boiled down, is might,
so high ambitions need not bring good ends.
They stood with Borinqueño Lords and whites
from Uptown arm in arm and spoke their word,
and when it ended in a bloody night,
one doubted whether anyone had heard.
Oh, had we Archimedes now in space
to move the earth onto some better place!
This brumous day the vapors mask the scene.
Boundaries blur to grey on grey. That elm
not so far off might be Pleistocene
or else on Mars or some supernal realm.
Yet one of normal eyes and average height,
though he may be no wizard and no dunce,
while looking out his window to the light
can sometimes see a million miles at once.
But now as there’s no take on distant sky,
he’s turned back to that shadow-play,
the cranium’s cinémathèque, the inward eye
to find what light it sheds upon the day.
Whether what he finds be ore or dross,
the afternoon will come to be no loss.