The Poetry Porch presents

the sonnet scroll v

Copyright © 2002, 2003 by Joyce Wilson



    Zeus Hatches a Plan 
    by Victor Howes 

    Zeus, you old coot, you need an introduction:
    You don’t get girls like that by walking up
    And grabbing something. A refined seduction
    Takes time, takes care, takes plans. You’re not the pup
    You used to be, the boy the girls all fall for.
    You’re gray and grizzled. Your midriff is flabby.
    From men your age wise words are what they call for,
    A heart of gold. Let’s face it Zeus, you’re shabby.
    But there stands Leda in that waterfall,
    Taking what seems to be an endless shower.
    “Light-of-my-loins-Lolita” ought to fall
    Under my spell, thrall to my godlike power.
    Can’t wait forever. Ideas start to dawn…
    I’m putting on the likeness of a swan.

    Copyright © 2002 by Victor Howes


    Sonnet for an Ineligible Bachelor 
    by Mary O’Donoghue 

              (to R.N.)

    Women of all ages, skirts and creeds
    Are rioting in the streets of Malden,
    Thwacking each other’s faces and
    Pulling out hair ‘til they’re balding,
    While over in Allston vigils are held
    With the good gentle ladies of Brighton,
    Flinging up supplications to St. Epipodius
    And getting his agreement in writing.
    News of hunger strikes on Beacon Hill,
    Blood-letting and black arts in Brookline.
    Women of Boston are gone barking mad.
    They’ve fallen like ninepins, sunk hook, line
    And tinker, mother and teenage vixen
    For this fecker, the playwright from Clifden.

    Note: Epipodius is the patron saint of bachelors 
    and torture victims. Martyred by beheading in 178.

    Copyright © 2002 by Mary O’Donoghue


    Three Signs near Granby, Mass.
    by Joyce Wilson 

    The wandering rider arrived on a motorcycle,
    Stopped, and reset his map to research
    The roads that surrounded the busy octagonal
    Russian ‘Vangelical and Baptist Church

    Beside the more singular Word of the Grace,
    With quiet exterior, peaked roof and white paint,
    That sat on the interstate, better to face
    The way with composure, like that of a saint

    Across from the Grace, a sign caught his eye,
    For Froggy’s Saloon and Grand Old Ballroom,
    He thought of the spider, who said to the fly,
    “Come into my kitchen,” like bride to a groom.

    Salvation and sin, the highway between
    He reset his maps and abandoned the scene.

    Copyright © 2003 by Joyce Wilson


    What We Chase 
    by Michele Rosenthal 

    Estranged, we’re just the cracked soul’s refugees,
    Two selves who have now been, sadly, displaced.
    That coarse and raggèd, deep-lined human face
    Of trust (abused and stripped of piety),
    Revealed beneath our masks of Comedy 
    Or Tragedy, as if what we have chased
    Brave heroes, heroines we wish to ape
    Abandoned us in this reality
    Where, sore and humbled we now understand:
    Our kind and theirs can never, ever mix.
    They, from fiction (or from old myth), descend,
    While we, erupting from a frozen land,
    Dig, scratch, and claw our way through earth to fix
    Remains of old mistakes we would transcend.

    Copyright © 2003 by Michele Rosenthal


    Roman Sonnet 
    by Julia Budenz 

    If I speak clearly can I kill the song?
    If I talk muddily may I omit
    Brilliants that make the very life of it?
    A stolid ox is standing on my tongue.

    Some hippopotamus has lazed along
    The bottom and emerges to the lit
    Surface that swirls above the whirling pit.
    Can I tell right from left or right from wrong?

    Can I tell, trusting image, metaphor,
    Symbol, myth, literature, how I in force
    Distrust the force itself, and without cease

    Will I wage war on willing, winning, war,
    Plunging both tongue and hand into the source
    Soaked with which poets scream of peace, peace, peace?

    Copyright © 2003 by Julia Budenz. 
    From “Roman Sonnets” in Book Three, “Rome,” of “The Gardens of Flora Baum” 
               by Julia Budenz.


    Trapping Bees 
    by Richard Aston 

    Showy fields of flowers remind me
    of a boy I knew who liked to trap bees
    that entered flutes of hollyhocks to drink
    nectar. It was not their fault, just bad luck
    to be tormented like that by a boy
    who made a sport of trapping bumblebees.
    Depending on his mood, he might crush them
    underfoot, or pluck their wings one by one.
    He wasn’t scientific enough to
    bottle them for study and learning:
    that would have justified their suffering.
    It wasn’t even granted them to sting
    the vicious boy, who performed the cruelty
    to them, as often he had done to me.

    Copyright © 2003 by Richard Aston

    Sonnet For Salty
    by Laurence Loeb

                 (on her 65th)

    No gift can repay the gift of laughter
    Freely offered, dispelling daughters’ fright
    To let sleep’s healing happily thereafter 
    Ease travel through monster-bearing night.

    Your song and steps, puppeteering summers
    Behind the screen, where each fluent hand tells
    Of stories without calendric numbers,
    Despite the tiers of these birthday candles.

    Worth and value are not to be measured
    By capricious laws conveyed by reasons known 
    But by an inner sureness to be treasured
    Where the self can thrive in havens of its own.
                 We all have chimeras, yet despair
                 Departs with each vision of joy you share.

    Copyright © 2003 by Laurence Loeb


    Here in Paradise 
    by Kathleen Kirk 

    My husband stands on the shore with a net.
    Before we go, he wants to see the skate, 
    its white belly; I want to see him wet.

    When we leave here, he will still taste of salt.
    I cannot speak, nor close my stinging mouth.
    This is how I pray, across the burning sands.

    Last night with our fingers we ate the white
    flesh of the flounder, innocent and sweet.
    When we licked butter from our teeth
    it was not a sinno sin to eat

    what we had taken gently in our hands
    from the white net, from the bluegreen water.
    This is how I pray, lips swollen with the sun.
    Forgive me for whatever I have done.

    Copyright © 2002 by Kathleen Kirk


    Unemployed
    by Joyce Wilson 

    Some inspirations find themselves in song,
    And blest are they who keep the message short;
    Thus, I assure you I won’t take too long
    To compensate for being out of work.

    For what is work beyond a single goal
    That steadies purpose in the frantic mind,
    And offers you your best supporting role,
    And counsels you to leave the least behind?

    By afternoon, the morning’s mood improved,
    I counted up the winter’s rare delight,
    And when a wren declared her love, was moved
    To savor riches long into the night.

    This poem marks the movements of the day
    I gathered in my wealth, to give away.

    Copyright © 2003 by Joyce Wilson


    Domestic Sonnet #26 
    by Wendy Vardaman 

    I read Frost last night to the children: “Fireflies”
    and “After Apple-Picking.” Conor stuck
    his fingers in his ears and began to buzz
    like a locust. Why does he despise
    poetry? I wonder that we rush to disguise
    our humanity, to pluck
    the eyes from our faces and to shuck
    the soul from the body that tries to outsize

    it. (As if some easy-fitting sort
    would take its place.) We could do worse than
    take a firefly for a model, making
    an attempt at brightness: at least
    offering a little light to one
    another through the silent circling.

    Copyright © 2003 by Wendy Vardaman


    Domestic Sonnet #63
    by Wendy Vardaman 

    I can’t pretend life stays the same,
    but its pace is never so clear
    as when I open photo albums. There
    the children we no longer have remain,
    reminding me, as no clock ever can,
    of how the seconds dissipate. How endure
    their thronging number? How comprehend its future?
    How many will abandon us from now to then?

    I used to figure time by place. The first
    decade of adult life slipped
    by at college. Now the minutes matter.
    You will feel the last two weeks were lost
    when you return and find the children changed,
    the ones you left already widely scattered.

    Copyright © 2003 by Wendy Vardaman


    Our Cat and His Abscess
    By Joyce Wilson

         —abscedere: to go away

    To flee the horror of his agony,
    He crept away to live beneath the house
    And trade our overanxious company
    For meals of crickets, beetles, and a mouse.

    Upon his source of torment, he obsessed.
    The sore that had erupted on his back
    Produced a yellow, awful smelling crust
    But kept his mind and memory on track.

    Alone, he was determined to endure
    This exile in his dank unheated lair.
    We wondered how he’d best achieve a cure
    Without accepting our attentive care.

    As winter weathers seeped into the field,
    He stayed away until the wound was healed.

    Copyright © 2003 by Joyce Wilson