Friday, November 28, 2008

Sonnet XXIII: It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

This pale hymn's the anthem of a wasted
and silent life and of the fallow years
stretching out before me, still untasted,
past the horizon. Following my ears,
my reluctant fingers kiss the graying
ivory-inspired keys. I'm playing
an instrument they put there and forgot.
Now never, never will my erstwhile thought
go from me, and never will I proffer
my question; never will I breathe new air.
This hymn, this pallid hymn is all I share
with the world, the last farewell I offer
with voice and fingers to those schemes:
my inconvenient, now-abandoned dreams.

Sonnet Sequence: Tending Wheat

Out of my imagination shouted a voice that crystallized within the chill.

Pointing to the structures he had routed,
the creature laughed.

He spoke his piece with skill,
loving me with every word he uttered,
needing me.

muttered and leaned against me,
telling me of wheat that grew untended in the southern heat,
lonely and unmastered.

Eyes expanding,
thinking of the hunger I had nursed,
I might allow my mouth to open,
versed in the words of ancients.

I am handing my soul to any lips that offer cheer:
a starving soul has nothing left to fear.

"Sin is hideous,"
my angel pouted,
"so lead me up onto the highest hill:
I won't give up on beauty 'til I've scouted the corners of the earth."

I said,
"Until you can see it with your eyelids shuttered,
listened to it glorified and guttered,
and known it in yourself,
your precious feet will walk along a firm,
unending street."

he said,
"When I see you stranding me on that hill,
I'll worship you at first,
then love you even more."

"You have rehearsed this,"
I said.

He nodded.

We were landing;
the flight was done.

He clung and whispered,
I love you."

He died;
my mind went clear.


Sin is ugly.

That is truth undoubted.

There is a kind of beauty in it still,
colors bursting forth as rules are flouted.

I hunger for some beauty.

I am ill,
starved for it,
surrounded by this cluttered dullness,
made like the Creator stuttered.

So bring me scraps of rotten fruit and meat and hunks of moldy bread,
and I will eat.

Bring me lukewarm water,
stale from standing,
and I will drink it down to quench my thirst.

Thus I,
descend to do the worst,
pleased by my demonic branding,
to be allowed to nuzzle at the ear of one who clings to me,
who lets me near.


I wait, silent in the dark, with outstretched
fingers hovering the in space between.
You are at once so near and so distant.
What do I await? No one knows, for no
response comes from you, the sleeping figure.
It isn't accurate to say I watch,
because it's too dark to see, but I know
how vulnerable you are, even if
you don't believe vulnerability
could be in you, even though you believe
I'm the weak one, and I want to guard you.
I reach out with my hand--nothing happens;
you don't turn toward me. As in the daytime,
when I reach for you, I am rejected.
Here, in your sleep, I know your true soul shows:
the way you instinctively turn away,
move away from my hands, says what you won't.
I question the impartiality
of gods who manufacture or allow
these cruel mockeries--it's hard enough
in daylight to be close yet forbidden
to touch, and at night, it's unbearable.
I may never burn for you, but I ache;
we could be quite fond of one another
if you would only seek my affection.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sonnet Sequence: Titania

As you say,
we are ill met by moonlight:
you come to take from me a memory that scrapes
and wakes my heart like emery.

I am off to gain the picayune light that will guard my treasure
while I slumber,
dreaming of the spicy winds that number in thousands
underneath the golden moon.

The farthest steppe of India is strewn with the sprinkles from the holy river,
where elephants wave ears,
and ragas twist like emerald snakes around the arm and wrist.

These are lies my conscience can deliver,
though this were never India.

Because she is,
it is.

It was because she was.

And because her love for me was fervent,
because my love must not be insincere,
I’ll keep what she took pains to engineer,
as a homemade present from a servant who was faithful,
as a faded letter from a love who left for someone better,
the scribbled picture of a grown-up child.

Among the sand dunes,
as the wind whipped wild ocean waves along her body’s swelling,
we loved too far for me to leave her now.

I loved her more intensely,
knowing how I would lose her.

Passion is compelling eternal me to further her campaigns,
to care for every piece of her remains.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday Afternoon

Yesterday, I read that sometimes
all you get is good enough,
so take whatever you can get,
and be as happy as you can be.
I can't live like that, unless
it's only temporary.
I can wait a hundred years
if the prize is guaranteed
to come to me as I was promised.
Today it's better than it has been,
and if there is a chance that maybe
someday good enough will turn
to good, I'll wait around a bit.
This is labeled hope, I think.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Here's no intimacy, no affection,
merely cool regard of each for each's
usefulnesses--and my disappointment.
Disappointment quickly turns to hatred;
frantic, I attempt to sublimate it
to indifference; indifference now
mellows to despair in rapid pulses.
I have bound myself and all my treasures
to a life of leftovers and waiting:
I did not believe in bliss and would not
ask for it, expect it, or allow it.
This was foolish: thinking my determined
disbelief in love could make me scorn it
or, indeed, could cease my longing for it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sonnet Cycle: Romantic Friendship


When that one’s earnest eyes are soft and brush
against me, I am conscious of her plea,
but I don’t know what makes her fancy me.
Her glances turn my insides into slush;
My heart and fingers tremble, and I flush
with pleasure and confusion—why should she,
a nymph with so much choice, so lovely, be
enamored of me, with a schoolgirl crush?

So I made this promise as I kissed her:
never to descend to such a station
as to bring reproach upon my treasure.
I will be the sweetest older sister,
prove my person fit for admiration
by whatever yardstick one may measure.


If I were capable of crafting stone,
I’d build a pillar higher than the sky
and put you on it, wholesome and alone
so everyone could gaze on you and sigh.

If I were capable of spinning light,
I’d clothe you in the raiment of the sun
while cobwebs clasped your body, tall and slight,
and dewy spangles left your hair undone.

If I were capable of finding life,
I’d fill my cup with water from that spring,
preserve you in your childhood as my wife,
and bind you tightly with a sacred ring.

I only swear to honor and protect,
for this I can do; this you may expect.


Ah! The frantic heartbeat, racing, pounding
when I attend the footstep on the stair,
the hands that pale and tremble unaware
at the call that gracefully goes sounding,
and the tumult when I, with fond affection,
see the glass shine out with your reflection,
the tears that fall with frank, intense relief,
at your caress in total disbelief:
all imply a neat, efficient answer,
so dangerous, so elegant a sore,
yet safer than our lives had been before,
standing there behind us, like a cancer,
not pressing us to question or discuss,
but waiting for acknowledgement from us.


Can something this delightful last for long?
Or is this rash of passion just a flash?
Can anything so powerful, so strong,
stay longer than a raindrop in a splash?

The most expensive medicines are found
within the buds that in a single night
must bloom and die and wither to the ground
and never turn their faces to the light.

And there are creatures that, when they are young
are sweet and lovely, but when they are grown,
are terrible of claw and sharp of tongue
and turn their fearsome rage against their own.

If our romance must follow either way,
I’d rather that it die than fade to gray.


I sit to write this sacred letter,
think how this is hardly still the fashion,
fill the page with flowery words of passion,
reinvent the form to suit us better...
I remember when you lost your sweater,
and I saw you, sitting cold and ashen.
Since that moment, you have been my ration;
I have been your servant and your debtor.

What could make an independent person,
fall in love while knowing she, the giver,
will again, with innocent illusions,
give, provide, and watch the friendship worsen
‘til she has to beg for every sliver
of affection? These have strange conclusions.


You will never do that awful action
although she did and does it to this day,
though he did and laughed with satisfaction.

And I’m unwise to trust in you this way,
to believe in you when I’m awake.

This is, of course, the very same mistake
that I have made a thousand anguished times,
with every man who cried about his crimes,
and with every leaf that fell, unwanted,
from its majestic, silent father-tree.

I’m easier than any girl should be.

I am easy prey, but never daunted,
and I believe in you like a savant,
and please, you know exactly what I want.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sonnet Sequence: Divine Confusion

Beauty still inflames the senses,
and softly begs to be drawn near,
nearer, through the psyche’s fences,
to be possessed, complete and clear,
taken whole inside the body
of the viewer, and its naughty,
uncanny smiling taunts the one
who hears it, tastes it, and is won.

This assaulting beauty’s victim
desires to overthrow its spell,
recover from the stunning shell
and its overwhelming dictum,
by rising, wrecking in delight
all the instigator’s might,
tearing it to tiny pieces
and throwing it upon the floor.

Her insane desire increases;
she wants to swallow, breathe, adore,
and put walls around her daughter—
dominate, envision, slaughter.

But never, never will she feel
fulfilled again: this cold ideal
fills her body with an aching,
intractable, eternal pain,
a need her tongue cannot explain
for creating, striving, breaking.

But if the object can’t obey,
she ruins the enthused display
to protect herself from treason
by that uncaring, lovely drive.

Children, it is for this reason
that all the architects alive
have built, that all the poets write,
that fruit is eaten, flames ignite,
and baby animals are born.

And this is why the veil was torn,
why the prince, when first he entered,
bent down to touch the sleeping miss
and wake her with his mouth: a kiss.

This is why the world is centered
upon its center, why both Good
and Bad exist, and why they should—
why we see so much destruction
within the earth and on its crust.

It is beauty’s soft seduction
and its resultant, bitter thrust
that bear responsibility
for elegance, nobility,
and self-improvement of all kinds.

Without this prickle in our minds,
this perverse, insane delusion,
nothing new would come to be
in the earth, the sky, the sea,
and the world’s divine confusion
would stagnate, empty out until
no voice disturbed the silent still.

Sonnet XXII: 啓太 [Keita]

This Eternal Youth from pages
looks out, eyes round, a porcelain doll,
held from me in glossy cages.

My hand can’t reach him through the wall,
so I stroke the surface, wanting
it to be his cheek, his haunting,
limpid face that nuzzles flush
against my fingers, pliant, plush.

I desire to own perfection,
encase it safely in my womb,
protect it from the cruel tomb
of the Truth: the same protection
that no one offered me when I
was young and wondered how and why.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sonnet Sequence: Настасья Филипповна Барашкова

All around me stare in horror:
No woman is as bad as I,
As I laugh at my restorer,
Such as you are. I will not lie;
This is honest love I’m feeling,
And a pity so appealing,
So tender that I turn to you.
You, prince, are good; I am the shrew
And the filth. I lift my chin
For innocence destroyed before
I knew that love meant something more:
Life spent, taught carefully to sin.
I will not interrupt your psalm,
Press shattered crystal to your palm,
Or besmirch your honor in the bushes.
Validity is in the knife,
Nervous, as he pants and pushes.
And, oh! to sacrifice my life,
Bleed before my old offender,
Ask no pardon, not surrender:
Real proof that I’m a shameless whore
And proof that all he did before
Slaughtered me in dissipation.
Here I will do as I was taught:
Kill him who kills without a thought.
Overcoming his foundation,
Voluptuous, alone, awry,
And willingly I go to die.

Sonnet Sequence: Girls

It was cold; we lay together
beneath the covers, and we spoke,
for we were alone.

The weather
was howling loudly; no one woke.

I was hungry; I was crying.

You were lonely.

We were dying,
and both of us were simply lost
and powerless to stop the frost.

No more secrets lay between us.

The lines between our bodies blurred,
and we’d have wondered what occurred
if, outside ourselves, we’d seen us.

Next day, the snow came, more and more,
which you had never seen before.

Fiercely, innocently caring,
and drinking from your proffered hands,
long, as long as you are sharing,
I choose you.

These are large demands
from a girl as old as summer
on the youngest, newest-comer.

I wish there could be somebody
who could be everything to me,
but I don’t believe that person

Still, maybe you’re temptation;
maybe you’re my consolation.

Many wounds I’ve caused will worsen
and many souls I’ll wound anew,
and I regret the things I do.

Warm, I watch your graceful motions,
and listen to your soothing voice.

Friendship is the best of notions.

When, at the same time, we rejoice,
in unison we scream aloud,
delighted, shiver, face the crowd,
and clasp our hands as sisters would.

And maybe to be understood,
nameless Tao to steel Valhalla,
two people have to be the same:
a mirror with another name,
the inner half of a mandala.

I am the apple; autumn's come.

You are the blossom of the plum.

Sonnet Sequence: Annulment

This late, unfeigned betrayal could corrode
so deep a wound because I know this sport:
I knew the way your promise would contort,
and I allowed your love to take this road,
because I judged it fair for what I owed.
Thus, I will silence now my lips’ report.
I will not speak against you in the court
of judgment, though my wounds have overflowed.

That I have hated you, and cursed your sin,
and spoken crisp and loud your every wrong
to multitudes—this is to my chagrin.
For I am not a child; no, I am strong,
am strong enough to keep my anguish in,
to seal my lips as long as life is long.

And from this day, I never, uncontrolled,
will show your sins or broadcast all your faults,
although your lies, your sickening assaults
are in me and are shocking in their bold
and cruel heartlessness. But Fate is cold,
to you—a childish nothing in the vaults—
to me—the votary who still exalts.
You are too low to fault, too young to scold.

Today you killed me, watching me dissolve.
Tomorrow I am living, undeterred.
I’ll let it feed upon me and evolve,
and you will never hear me breathe a word
of pain or pained reproach. This I resolve.
I will it so—but laugh; I am absurd.

Monday, November 10, 2008


If, in the sky, the clouds are cool and gray,
I feel that energy begin to stir:
the lustful restlessness is set on play,
the all-consuming forces start to whirr,
powering through my body in a blur.
I can run long and never have to pay,
open my mouth and swallow up the earth;
I laugh with joy, with evil freedom slur,
and know my lonely strength, and thus my worth.

Voting Booth

When I can leave my wallet and the clock,
I'll drive as far as I can crawl, can creep,
and when I'm out of gas, I'll start to walk,
and when I'm out of energy, I'll sleep,
and when I wake, continue to the deep.
And I'll take nothing with me from my stock
except these eyes, which swivel in their frames,
and I'll gain nothing I intend to keep,
not even memories, not even names.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sonnet XXI: To ---

You are a princess waiting for a man
to rescue you, and I, your substitute,
the ever-so-obedient salute
that picks you up and smiles, as per your plan,
attempted, but could not escape. I ran
as fast as Boreas along his route.
I thought I didn’t care, but in pursuit,
my feelings for you came to quash my ban.

As if you cast a complicated spell,
I must obey; I must commit your crime.
I need to end this thorny, knotted hell,
this childish and deceptive paradigm.
I hate you so sincerely, deeply, well—
that’s why I think about you all the time.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

俺様 [Glorious Me]

I like Myself the most when I can wave
My hand, imperious, and grant to all
forgiveness--such a little thing--and I
can shower everyone with love and gifts
and My attention; when I stand alone
in wind with shoulders back and laugh (and laugh!)
at enemies, let evil throw itself
at Me and bounce away, unheeded by
My soul, for it is harmless; when My strong
and steady shoulders carry someone else's load;
when I can see I am alone, and then
I do the work of ten with My own hands;
when I have something real and true to say,
My voice rings clear and pure across the land,
throughout the valleys, sonorous; when all
the eyes of Earth's inhabitants are fixed
on Me--they cannot look away--for I
am beautiful and powerful, and in
the deepest places of their souls, My words
of wisdom echo; when I love the world
and every person in it, for I love
Myself; when I can give without a thought
to any value of the gift--except,
of course, the value given by the one
who has received it--because I in Myself
am all I need--I need no one, no thing;
when I bestow Myself entire--with all
My thought, My hope, My help--upon the one
who holds My gaze, without a wayward thought
toward Myself, except the softest, vague
awareness that I'm being GOOD; when I
don't ask or take from anyone--and yet
with charming unselfconsciousness accept
all that which may be offered; and when I
am full, so full as to be flowing out
and spilling over everyone I touch.

But now, today, i am a child, too weak
and petulant, and i achieve my ends
not through my strength, but through a childish kind
of sticky-sweet manipulation, which
is sickening and harrowing to me.