So. A long long time ago, back in 2001, which is almost a lifetime in E2 years, I was still jonesing for the rush that accompanies a writeup-and-its-reaction(s) that is the everything2 experience. I couldn’t write enough in those days, and I was holding down a real and demanding job to boot.
Perhaps you know the feeling. Life becomes unmanageable. Having re-awakened to writing in its purest sense after a very long hiatus, I fed the addiction any way I could. Encouraged by the unforgettable and selfless mentorship of dannye, I methodically worked my way through most of my obsessions in fairly short order. James Joyce. Vietnam. Hollywood. Yoga and things of a similar spiritual nature.
By August of that eventful year—I forget why and who—but somebody challenged me to write a poem. Man. I cannot write poetry. If I could, I’d write songs, because songs can get you girls. I studied poetry in college with some real heavyweights…yep…’run just don’t have that gene.
Nevertheless, I persisted. I posted a poem. Was it a girl, do you think, made me do it? That first time? I knew for sure I was no etouffee. I been readin’ his stuff here for 18.6 years now, and I’m tellin’ you: that fellow has a way with words that rhyme and stuff. He even writes poems that DON’T rhyme. He could write a song, I betcha, girls. I kinda liked that first poem of mine, but it kinda sucked, I know, and I made one or two half-hearted attempts after and then I gave it up to do what I do best. Nothing.
Now. A funny thing happened. There was a contest here locally that paid cash-on-the-barrelhead real money for poetry, and as you can probably imagine, ol’ rr usually needs him some benjamins. Since I can’t write poetry (see above), my first thought was to rework that sad little piece I posted here on August 5th, 2001. But, not wanting to plagiarize myself, I figured I’d rework it as a sonnet.
A sonnet is a REAL poem. With rules. Meter. Rhyme. All that stuff they teach in liberal arts colleges. Shakespeare wrote 154 of them, all posted here by the estimable mblase. Talk about a labor of love…
That sonnet of mine was not fun to write. Except it kinda was, once I stopped counting on my fingers. And the amusing thing is—I won third prize in that contest.
That’s me: third-rate poet.
Now, since nobody lets me make Hollywood movies anymore, I’ve been writing books—the novels I’ve been putting off for fifty years, portions of which I’ve posted here. Been writing them full time. Been enjoying that immensely, and been getting good feedback. But I reiterate: without dannye’s encouragement, I wouldn’t be writing diddly.
But because I found it so challenging, and because I’ve found it so enjoyable, and because—like the mountain—just because it IS, I’ve been writing a sonnet a week since that contest. For practice. For a workout. For fun. For the hell of it.
My intention (and let’s not forget about how the road to hell gets paved) is to post a sonnet a week here until I feel I finally get good at it. They say practice makes perfect, but *I* say PERFECT practice makes perfect, and being a perfectionist is what kept me from writing for too damn long in the first place. So the heck with perfect. Let's just go with the work.
Sonnet of the Week ending February 29, 2020. Hey! Leap Year! Isn’t somebody supposed to propose?!
Tawny day was turning softly azure.
Before my weary eyes the sun lay down.
I thought sure the vaulted sky would rather
Be host to beauty, say, true love engown.
But before I could find my one true heart,
Dusk slipped away, crept away, flew away,
Whatever happens when a precious part
Of us escapes, as if—in truth—betrayed.
I want to lie in the arms of Sunset,
Having done that thing I set out to do.
Daytime’s labor should consummate all debt.
So many hours I've lost, not just a few.
Lost or misplaced, in the onrush of night
I hurry to rest, and often lose sight.
Sonnet of the Week — March 7, 2020
So once again upon an empty bed
I lay my weary thought-wrenched body down.
There was a time when Love to sleep had led
This antic soul whose purpose was unknown.
But Life has brought a better happiness,
Existing as it must but here and now.
The past is gone, while futures can arrest
All joy, and furrow deep a lover’s brow.
Then let Her be, for now, a spectre pure,
A lovely Dream, a Promise of the real.
This night will pass, and then the day endure
Another challenge to this lover’s zeal.
She may or may not ever come to be,
But thinking on Her brings a certain glee.
Sonnet of the Week — March 14, 2020
The sky breaks open and the rain falls down.
It’s like I’m nine or ten again, and rapt.
It’s been days since the morning sun has shown,
Some part of me feels lost, my thoughts entrapped.
More and more these difficult times, it seems,
We find ourselves controlled by things outside.
Try as we may, the zeitgeist rules our dreams,
And men of harsh intent can blind our eyes.
But there are ways, you know, to make things whole,
To bring some sun into the dreary day.
Our hearts, when open, can our lives control,
And love, as always truly shows the way.
Rejoice, sweet child of Eve and sturdy Adam.
Like John and Yoko sang, let’s just Imagine.
Sonnet of the Week — March 21, 2020
Virus Be Gone
This ain’t no Easter Bunny ode to hope,
Nor Mickey Mouse or Goofy song of joy.
The Clownish Tool who got us here’s a dope,
And VOTES against this fool must be deployed.
There was a time I’d say “just let it go,”
For God’s in Heaven and his will be done.
But that was then and this is now, you know,
The death knell's toll has only just begun.
So what to do, the world’s a mess you say.
Just hunker down and pray the food holds out?
Get real, I scream, be LOUD and in the way.
Make this November’s win a righteous rout.
For God will drag his lumpen ass to hell.
The Orange Virus gone, we’ll heal ourselves.
Sonnet of the Week — March 28, 2020
“Tell your doctor if you think you might die.”
But here, take his pill and feel better fast.
Don’t have the cash for the drugs you must buy?
Eff you, poor bastard, these days are your last.
It blows my mind, in this day and this age,
How selfish we are, how scared, and how rude.
Talk is so cheap, but our actions enrage.
Our sickest need help, our poorest crave food.
We must overcome the hate-filled elite.
There are ways to do good, ways to do right.
It’s low-information we must defeat.
Fear of the unknown’s the thing we must fight.
Each day is a chance to make a real change.
That poor person there? She’s not all that strange.
Sonnet of the Week — April 4, 2020
So midnight came, the way she always does.
The day had fled, through no fault of my own.
I’d writ the words and told the story of
A man, his wife, a dog who graced their home.
And then the proper phrase refused to come,
At such a time when, often, I’m on fire.
The late night hour is by and large so plum—
The muse and I will frequently conspire.
But writing’s not a quick and easy task.
Sometimes it flows but just as oft it won’t.
These days when all and sundry wear a mask?
Hydroxychloroquine my rest postpones.
A rhyme’s a rhyme, and some of them are cheap.
Get off to bed. You’ll write it in your sleep.
Sonnet of the Week — April 11, 2020
Love in the Time of Corona
“Love in the Time of Corona,” she said.
“Why don’t you write the whole thing ‘cause it’s good!”
Why? You ask WHY steal from this thoroughbred?
I’m not quite in the Marquez neighborhood.
It’s a cheap shot, a bit of a damn pun.
A columnist’s headline, it’s pretty bad,
And in this instance not really much fun.
In Spanish, “cólera” also means mad.
Which is what we all are, tell you the truth.
We’re mad and we’re dying, thanks to this ass.
Our schools are all closed, we’re cheating our youth,
The world’s gone to hell, and he gets a pass?
Not in God’s Good Book, no way and no how.
Wages of sin should be full-paid right now.
Sonnet of the Week — April 18, 2020
Back to Work in the Time of Covid?
You’ve got to be kidding me, am I right?
Go back to work in the middle of this?
Facts are quite clear—it’s a hell of a plight.
Only a moron would whine and insist.
Oh, but wait, he IS an A-hole you say?
Clear as can be since his days in New York?
His acts and his words are cause for dismay.
If things don’t improve, we’re certainly borked.
Would you like some rules so we can get through?
Simple things even a kid could obey?
Trust me—we don’t need a dunce deja-vu.
If we practice safe stuff, he might go away.
Stay home for sure, social distance, a mask.
Are these three things really too much to ask?
Sonnet of the Week — April 25, 2020
Turpentine or Pinesol?
The end of the week, the task is at hand.
It ain’t that easy, this on-demand game.
Life seems so bleak with Fat Ass in command.
Is our only way out legerdemain?
Magical Thinking’s the coin of the realm:
Fifty-four Thousand, all gone in six weeks.
Science and logic and facts overwhelm
This chump who relies on witchcraft’s techniques.
Shoot Lysol, or bleach, or blood of a bat.
Shine light down your throat or right up your ass,
Let’s waste Covid-19, rat-a-tat-tat.
Who cares if he slept all morning through class?
I, riverrun, prefer a prescription.
May a doc’s hand forestall benediction.
Sonnet of the Week — May 2, 2020
Sonnet 18 Redux
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more ugly and intemperate.
Rough choices get us to the end of May,
Our leases due by such-and-such a date.
Sometimes too hot the press’s light doth shine,
But never is your orange face paint dimmed;
And every truth from truth will oft decline,
On purpose, ‘cause your heart with lies is brimmed.
But thy infernal sun must one day fade,
And lose possession of the debt thou ow’st,
Sweet Death will drag you deep into His shade,
And in damnation’s timeless grasp thou grow’st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to me.
Sonnet of the Week — May 9, 2020
The Hanuman Chalisa’s on my mind
This week, and actually long before.
Forty verses, a prologue writ in kind,
By Tulsidas, poet forevermore,
Sung in praise of the worthy Monkey Friend,
Hanuman, a true devotee of Ram,
A Superhero, able to transcend
The laws of space and time with great aplomb.
Known by many as the son of the wind,
He moved a mountain for his noble king.
The perfect soldier and the perfect friend,
To prove himself, he brought the royal ring.
A myth, yes, but the archetypes are true.
An ancient tale, it speaks of me and you.
Sonnet of the Week — May 16, 2020
"You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone," she said.
Old Blues tune, twelve bars in the key of A.
For a long time she’s been inside my head,
Now she’s leaving, and I think “Bless this day.”
One morn, a good thing finally turns bad.
The damnedest truth, you really don’t know how.
She’s off, she’s on, she’s out, she’s in, it’s sad.
What once was “When” has grown to be just “Now.”
In time I hope to figure out the means
Of living with a woman who like THAT
Can blow my life sky-high, to smithereens.
One day, not now, another time at bat.
Beautiful creatures, no way can I break
This queue of God’s bounty, all for Love’s sake.
Sonnet of the Week — May 23, 2020
On the Occasion of One Hundred Thousand Deaths
ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND Americans gone.
The number pains my eyes, my ears, my heart,
Each one’s a person—a daughter or son,
A husband, a wife—too soon to depart.
When life’s just numbers, the culture has died.
There’s no use citing “acceptable loss.”
For the good of Dow Jones, we are fed lies,
Evil that springs from a mind at a loss.
There was a time, one night in the City,
I met this man who would make himself king.
Even then, he was looked on with pity,
Cold lucre, for him, was just everything.
If child is father to the man, indeed,
It behooves all Creation to pay heed.
Sonnet of the Week — May 30, 2020
George Floyd Died for Our Sin
Events tumble this week, out of control.
Murder, the virus, inaction, despair.
Which way to turn, with no apparent goal?
It’s plain to see—we live an old nightmare.
George Floyd—we can’t pronounce his name enough.
He died being the wrong color, you know.
Our nation’s great sin, when push comes to shove,
Each of us lives in slavery’s shadow.
So once again: what one thing can we do?
As we ask: which new child will die in hate?
We can’t go on, again, this Deja-vu.
Our better angels must reincarnate.
Let George Floyd’s life bring an end to our sin.
Say yes to love and let healing begin.
Sonnet of the Week — June 6, 2020
Today is D-Day
D-Day was seventy-six years ago,
Just a bit older than me and my friends.
What have we all learned, what truth’s apropos?
What choice today will tomorrow portend?
It seems we forget the pain of the past,
How men good and true all died for a cause.
We act out of greed for things that won’t last.
The choices we make must give us all pause.
We’ve enabled leaders, men without souls
To act without thought, in fear and in hate.
The hour’s long past, and we must choose to howl
In protest, lest sacrifice become waste.
What’s done is done. We can’t ever forget
The physics of truth—we give what we get.
Sonnet of the Week — June 13, 2020
Get Up, Stand Up
We wait with bated breath for change to come,
As if the job belonged to someone else.
But no, it’s up to us to beat the drum,
To sound the peal of equality’s bell.
Stasis defines the establishment way.
Power will always subjugate the meek.
Their technique is to distract and delay,
Burgers and beer give us no chance to speak.
Four Hundred Years, the great Bob Marley sang,
And to this day, America can’t see—
The Man, the System, we all must harangue.
Get Up, Stand Up if we want to be Free.
The time at last has come, and so it seems—
Make enough noise and we realize our dreams.
Sonnet of the Week — June 20, 2020
He Was Only Joking
If the whole world didn’t depend on it,
Recent events would have to make you laugh.
Even a slow child would surely admit
Our Cadet Bonespurs can’t live without gaffes.
To Russia (with love), Vaginas, Ukraine,
Add Covid, “Clean” Coal, and his fucking wall.
Plus race and tax cuts, what’s with his damned brain?
Is it his job—you think—to kill us all?
Depression’s set in, and it’s not just me.
Even the right wing is starting to spook.
Somewhere there’s film of Red women who pee,
A big turn-on for a dangerous kook.
I do try to keep a sense of humor,
But this sad man is truly a bummer.
Sonnet of the Week — June 27, 2020
The Future Must Belong to Us
Events have transpired, and nearly preclude
Small things like smiles and kisses and poems.
A sense of loss and helplessness exudes.
Covid prevails, in our cities and homes.
Some people are bored, and others are scared.
This cursed virus, it seems, knows no real bounds.
Small acts—distance and masks—make us prepared,
Non-compliance by fools simply astounds.
One day, when history has had its say,
Ego and ignorance may have prevailed.
“Dolt and His Toadies Trump the U.S.A.”
Headlines and books could lament The Betrayal.
All we can do til that day, my brother,
Is mask up and try to love one another.