The Poetry Porch presents

the sonnet scroll xiv

Copyright © 2015 by Joyce Wilson

 


    Middlemarch in Middle America
    by Jenna Le

               St. Paul, Minnesota, 1990

    Named Dorothy by two agnostic Hmong
    whose grasp of Western word roots was so poor
    they missed the fact that, in “Dorothy,” the dor-
    means “gift” and the -thy “God.” Grew up along
    a reeking sewage stream wry locals dubbed
    “The Brook.” Made straight A’s. Won scholarships. Grubbed           
    through college, salivating as she sniffed
    the faint, rank spoor of the American Dream.
    Forced to quit school, with rattled self-esteem,
    the year her Ph.D. advisor, stiff
    with rheumatism, fell flat on his mauve-
    hued face (his name was Casaubon) just weeks
    before her dissertation was complete.
    Joined a Polish healthcare start-up, Wladyslaw.

    Copyright © 2015 by Jenna Le.


    Family Movie Night, 1994
    by Jenna Le

    Unrolling on the TV in the den:
    a Hong-Kong-made film dubbed in Vietnamese,
    the one where Maggie Cheung (all the movies
    my parents rent star either Brigitte Lin
    or Maggie Cheung) shines in the role of Green
    Snake, a shapeshifting minor goddess. She’s
    persuaded by her older sister, easy-
    going White Snake, to take part in a fun
    gag where the two immortal gals transform
    their coats from reptile scales to mammal skin
    and pose as human women for a year.
    All’s well until a sleazy mandarin
    impregnates White Snake. I huff, “It’s unfair
    that Green Snake be left out.” “Hush, fool,” snaps Mom.

    Copyright © 2015 by Jenna Le.


    The Worst Day of Brook Watson’s Life
    by Jenna Le

               after Copley’s Watson and the Shark

    A bare-bellied boy floats on the waves, back arched
    like the body of a woman in orgasm.
    His tense taut limbs jut oddly, as if in spasm.
    Surfer-long blond hair haloes the harsh
    grimace that he wears: his black eyes bulge
    from a face that’s been completely drained of blood,
    a face that mimics a Noh mask carved of wood,
    mouth-hole wide and upward-curved.

                                                                   The shark
    (did I neglect to mention there’s a shark?)
    is yellow-eyed. Her arced black nostrils flare
    just inches from the nude boy’s streaming hair.
    She’s not looking at the boy: her left eye angled
    slightly above the right, she aims her large
    snout just leftward of the boy she’ll shortly mangle.

    Copyright © 2015 by Jenna Le.


    Phones
    by James B. Nicola

    Every time the phone rang after his last
    attack, I’d answer the call as if word
    were being given. Those times are long past.
    Now I recall that other things occurred
    that term—commencement, summer jobs, my move
    to the city; I had forgotten all
    of them. My roommate woke me with a shove
    at five, my first night in New York. A call—


    I knew even before he saw me wince . . . .

    My mother’s hesitation broke the news.

    We held the service. Months passed, then years. Since
    then, phones do not enthrall me with their rings
    but only as devices I can use
    to calm a mother’s dark imaginings.

    Copyright © 2015 by James B. Nicola.


    ICU
    by William Baer

    Some moron cuts me off on the Garden State,
    not that far from the exit for Route 22;
    I crash the retaining wall, wheel back too late,
    flip over twice, and end in the ICU,
    with a broken this and that, fibrillation,
    a punctured something, spinal repercussion,
    intravenous morphine medication,
    and an almost-deadly brain concussion.
    But I’m thinking maybe it’s not so bad,
    maybe you’ll hear about it and visit me,
    as I sketch your face on a prescription pad,
    dreaming of a moment that’s never-to-be:
    when I hear your footsteps on the hallway floor,
    when I see you, love, walking through the door.

    Copyright © 2015 by William Baer.


    Reprieve
    by William Baer

    When you finally agreed to meet with me,
    I thought I was getting one more chance,
    a provisional reprieve, a final wait-and-see
    if we could salvage the wreck of our romance.
    I thought you pitied my wretched desperation,
    and that you, finally, had come to believe
    in my best intentions and rehabilitation,
    granting me a compassionate reprieve.
    But I was wrong. I was being “sent away,”
    rejected, dismissed, cast out like Cain,
    into the outer-darkness, a castaway,
    a fugitive, wandering in vain,
    alone, never knowing what to do,
    forever cursed, and marked with the mark of you.

    Copyright © 2015 by William Baer.


    Expat
    by Catherine Chandler

         “Get back!” —The Beatles, Let It Be album

    New York’s five thousand miles away,
    mapped in another hemisphere.
    On this fine January day
    it’s winter there and summer here.
    Here the moon wanes in reverse;
    and though my zês still sound like zees,
    I’ve learned to samba, learned to curse
    in bad Brazilian Portuguese.

    True, caipirinha quenches thirst
    and jungles breed umbrella birds;
    but I believe my heart will burst
    when, paraphrased, those two small words
    Paul chants to Jojo in a song
    hit close to home. I don’t belong.

    Copyright © 2015 by Catherine Chandler.


    Sisters
    by Catherine Chandler

    Each one was Sister Mary plus a name
    belonging to a saint, like Agnes and
    Cornelius, their guimpe and coif a frame
    for crease-browed faces. They would reprimand
    us for the least divergence from the path
    of righteousness—a petty schoolyard schism
    or lace-edged collar would incur their wrath:
    a pop quiz on the Baltimore catechism.

    But Sister Mary Jane, who taught third grade,
    was sweet and kind, and thought it not egregious
    for chestnut curls to fly loose from a braid.
    She spared the rod, so unlike Mary Regis.
    We learned our lessons but she let us dream.
    That year we fashioned butter out of cream.

    Copyright © 2015 by Catherine Chandler.


    The Girl in the Photograph
    by Catherine Chandler

    The de rigueur engagement photograph
    is dated nineteen ten. In sepia tones
    my mother’s mother, eighteen, dressed in lace
    and linen, stands with hands behind her back.
    A dark curl loosens from her Gibson Girl.
    She wears a put-on smile, a cameo pin,
    a sidelong glance. Her bold, defiant chin
    is all I recognize of Granny here—
    no slippers cut for corns, no sagging shifts
    and flowered aprons, toothless gums; no grim
    grass widow. As I scrutinize her pose
    I well believe the story handed down—
    the day when she dumped dinner on his head,
    taming that wayward scallywag she wed.

    Copyright © 2015 by Catherine Chandler.


    Ominous Sounds from the Getty Hexameters
    by R. W. Haynes

    Who can doubt that healing powers
    Wait in the shadows, pondering
    Intervention in our hapless wandering
    Toward whatever peripety is ours?
    Does one pray beseechingly to these,
    Or is that fatal? Is there only grace
    Kindly awarded to the averted face?
    Is recovery better than disease?
    Get the rooster feathers, the sacred knife,
    And the gaudy gourds so we can rattle
    As if anemic Death’s afraid of battle
    And hides his face to save his bony life,
    And we’ll secure this poetic prescription,
    Chanting lucky curses from the Egyptian.

    Copyright © 2015 by R. W. Haynes.


    Cold Water Wisdom Up North
    by R. W. Haynes

    Surely one approves of deep, cold fjords
    Demonized by time, imagination,
    And icy paralysis of volatile sensation,
    Beckoning violence to Viking lords,
    But in warm parlors, soft musical sound
    Strokes and teases, pulls stealthy comfort around,
    Seduces history into a drowsy sleep
    In which the mind’s unforgiving blade
    Buries itself, old true steel betrayed,
    In hot marshmallows forty fathoms deep.
    Yet, through this soporific haze, at last,
    A troubling sound of a shrewd brass alarm
    Disturbs this rest, and signals dreadful harm
    At hand, approaching both fatal and fast.
    The volume of cold trouble forces out
    A cry, as one looks frantically about.

    Copyright © 2015 by R. W. Haynes.


    Colonel Sanders Needs Love, Too
    by R. W. Haynes

    The hero crows, the heroine clucks back,
    Both featherheads in chicken-yard roles,
    Mad as wet poultry, wing-flapping souls
    In dramatic ecstasies, their yackety-yak
    Besieges the heavens with an eloquence
    Betokening nature’s rich intensity
    Of wit and color, symphonic cacophony,
    Providence exploding inside the backyard fence.
    And as those echoes blast forth distraction,
    Other dramas wrap us in their charms,
    Like friendly octopi with too many arms,
    Involving our minds with too much interaction.
    So we, like tenacious, outraged little birds,
    Dodge through a storm of deciduous words.

    Copyright © 2015 by R. W. Haynes.


    The Celtic Armband
    by Kelley Jean White

    Arms are my weakness. The way the veins curve
    around muscles. The turning muscles, the grooves
    in the forearm, the riverbed between
    biceps and tri. So if you have to mark
    yourself I must admit I would prefer
    a permanent rawhide thong on your smooth
    skin, your arm, an intricate band weaving
    gold and copper from the Book of Kells, stark
    reminder of the past trying to make
    you immortal, a mummified bog man
    sacrifice buried in your ancestral
    land, I could imagine it, you taken
    for a druid, or drawn by some monk’s hand,
    a dying Gaul, no chief, you my vassal.

    Copyright © 2015 by Kelley Jean White.


    The Old Man
    by Kelley Jean White

    Younger than me, she’s raising two grandsons,
    beautiful little boys. First time she brought
    them to the office the youngest was six
    months old, wrapped up in towels, had the worst
    diaper rash I’d ever seen, older one’s
    ears were dripping pus. Their parents were caught
    living in a car at Christmas—their fix
    was fentanyl and heroin, not worth
    much on the street anymore. The mother
    OD’d, and the father, this woman’s son’s
    in jail, “it’s kinda family tradition,
    our men walk away.” She pushes up her
    sleeve: her tattoo, the Great Stone Face, fallen,
    RIP, ’03, “I miss my old man.”

    Copyright © 2015 by Kelley Jean White.


    When I Googled Sonnet Scroll I
    Got “Scrotal Sonnet” and I Felt
    I Had to Rise to the Occasion


    by Kelley Jean White

    Who’d believe you of all people would pledge
    a fraternity? Chug down beer in damp
    basements, chant Wa-Hoo-Wa, vomit, on my
    feet? My shy erstwhile Altar Boy, elite
    English scholar, writer, artist, effete
    philosophy major, man who will cry
    at the first hint of emotion? Scout camp
    drop-out, hermit, loner, man with a hedge
    against neighbor, family, friend? But you did;
    they drove you to a bar in New Jersey,
    tied on a blindfold then all of them hid.
    Your job was to find ten girls, to ask “please,
    your phone number?” String tied round your scrotum
    and to the pen, squeezed your poor balls blue numb?

    Copyright © 2015 by Kelley Jean White.


    Distances
    by Michael R. Burch

    Moonbeams on water —
    the reflected light
    of a halcyon star
    now drowning in night . . .
    So your memories are.

    Footprints on beaches
    now flooding with water;
    the small, broken ribcage
    of some primitive slaughter . . .
    So near, yet so far.

    Copyright © 2015 by Michael R. Burch.


    From Pierre de Ronsard
    Les amours de Marie, Second Livre
    trans. by Henry Weinfield

    IX

    Whoever wished to rearrange your name
    Would find aimer: so love me, then, Marie.
    Love calls you by your name—it’s Nature’s aim.
    Traitors to Nature get no clemency.

    Pledge me your heart and I will do the same
    And offer mine: what pleasures there will be!
    No other longings will have any claim
    Or power upon my mind to imprison me.

    Lady, one has to love something on earth.
    Whoever doesn’t lives a life that’s worth
    That of a Scythian, and his days are passed

    Without tasting the best and sweetest taste.
    Without Venus, nothing in life is sweet.
    When mine lacks love, let me be done with it.

    Copyright © 2015 by Henry Weinfield.

    IX
    by Pierre de Ronsard

    Marie, qui voudroit vôtre nom retourner,
    Il trouveroit aimer: aimez-moy donc Marie,
    Vôtre nom de nature à l’amour vous convie.
    À qui trahît Nature il ne faut pardonner.

    S’il vous plaît vôtre coeur pour gage me donner,
    Je vous offre le mien: ainsi de cette vie
    Nous prendrons les plaisirs, et jamais autre envie
    Ne me pourra l’esprit d’une autre emprisonner.

    Il fault aimer, maîtresse, au monde quelque chose.
    Celuy qui n’aime point, malheureux se propose
    Une vie d’un Scythe, et ses jours veut passer

    Sans goûter la douceur des douceurs la meilleureo
    Rien n’est: doux sans Venus et sans son fils: à l’heure
    Que je n’aimeray plus, puisse-je trespasser.


    From Pierre de Ronsard
    Les amours de Marie, Second Livre
    trans. by Henry Weinfield

    XXVIII

    Are you so cruel as not to want to love?
    Is it contempt for Nature? See the sparrow:
    The urge to love has stirred him to the marrow:
    Behold the ringdove and the turtledove.

    See how the amorous birds on quivering wing
    Are fluttering here and there from bough to bough:
    The young vine curls around the elm trees now:
    All things are filled with laughter in the spring.

    The shepherdess, turning her spindle, sings
    Her loves; the shepherd tunes his melody
    To answer her, for love is in all things.

    All speak of love, all enter in its fire:
    Only your heart, as cold as it can be,
    Stays obstinate and still disdains desire.

    Copyright © 2015 by Henry Weinfield.

    XXVIII
    by Pierre de Ronsard

    Vous mesprisez nature: êtes-vous si cruelle
    De ne vouloir aimer? voyez les Passereaux
    Qui démenent l’amour, voyez les Colombeaux,
    Regardez le Ramier, voyez la Tourterelle:

    Voyez deçà delà d’une fretillante aile
    Voleter par les bois les amoureux oiseaux,
    Voyez la jeune vigne embrasser les ormeaux,
    Et toute chose rire en la saison nouvelle.

    Ici la bergerette en tournant son fuseau
    Desgoise ses amours, et là le pâtoureau
    Répond à sa chanson, ici toute chose aime:

    Tout parle de l’amour, tout s’en veut enflamer:
    Seulement vôtre coeur froid d’une glace extrême
    Demeure opiniâtre et ne veut point aimer.


    From Pierre de Ronsard
    Les amours de Marie, Second Livre
    trans. by Henry Weinfield

    XXIX

    I love the violet and the lovely rose:
    The first one sacred to the goddess Venus,
    The other with the name of my fair mistress,
    Because of whom I never have repose.

    I love three little birds: first is the one
    Who lifts wet feathers skyward after spring rains,
    Then one who, widowed, to the wood complains,
    One who composes verses for her dead son.

    I love a Burgundian pine where Venus hung
    My youthful liberty when, being enraptured,
    It yielded up my heart an eye had captured.

    I love a young laurel, Phoebus Apollo’s tree,
    From which my mistress took a branch and strung
    With plaits of her own hair a crown for me.


    NOTES: Line 1 in the French is “J’aime la fleur de Mars, j’aime la belle rose”;
    the “flower of March” is the violet. In the second quatrain, the three birds
    are the lark, the turtledove, and the nightingale respectively. The turtledove
    is renowned for fidelity. In the Odyssey the story is told of Aedon who accidentally
    killed his son and was then transformed to a nightingale; in French poetry, however,
    the nightingale is always gendered female. The Burgundian pine is probably an
    allusion to Marie, to whom these sonnets are addressed; her surname was “Du Pin”
    or “Dupin.” Ovid in the Metamorphoses tells the story of Daphne, who, pursued by
    Apollo, is transformed to a laurel, from which Apollo (the patron god of poetry)
    fashions a laurel crown.

    Copyright © 2015 by Henry Weinfield.

    XXIX
    by Pierre de Ronsard

    J’aime la fleur de Mars, j’aime la belle rose,
    L’une qui est sacrée à Venus la Déesse,
    L’autre qui a le nom de ma belle maîtresse,
    Pour qui troublé d’esprit en paix je ne repose.

    J’aime trois oiselets, l’un qui sa plume arrose
    De la pluye de May, et vers le Ciel se dresse:
    L’autre qui veuf au bois lamente sa détresse:
    L’autre qui pour son fils mille versets compose.

    J’aime un pin de Bourgeuil, où Venus apendit
    Ma jeune liberté, quand prise elle rendit
    Mon coeur que doucement un bel oeil emprisonne.

    J’aime un jeune laurier de Phoebus l’arbrisseau,
    Dont ma belle maîtresse en pliant un rameau
    Lié de ses cheveux me fît une couronne.


    EROS
    by Bettina von Arnim; trans. by William Ruleman

    I find him fast asleep upon a bed
    Of roses—caught in their petals’ changing gleam
    As fawning dew-bespangled sunrays beam
    And breaths of spirits flow all round his head.

    It seems as though those pure limbs had been shed:
    Poured into slumber by the bees that teem
    And hum, the subtle scents that drift and stream,
    About the quivering body, fragrance-fed.

    And now, at once, I see it start to swell:
    The flower in bloom! And then I recognize,
    In broad daylight, the bright one in whose spell

    My own eyelids, on seeing his rise, have sunk;
    For he so seizes me with those strange eyes
    That, in his light, I lie dream-drunk.

    Copyright © 2015 by William Ruleman.


    EROS
    by Bettina von Arnim

    Im Bett der Rose lag er eingeschlossen,
    Im Wechselschimmer ihrer zarten Seiten,
    Die taugebrochnen Strahlen schmeichelnd gleiten
    Hinein zu ihm, von Geisterhauch umflossen.

    Mich dünkt, in Schlummer waren hingegossen
    Die reinen Glieder, durch des Dufts Verbreiten
    Und durch der Biene Summen, die zuzeiten
    Vorüberstreift an zitternden Geschossen.

    Doch da beginnt mit einemmal zu schwellen
    Der Blume Kelch! Ins Freie nun gehoben,
    Erkenn ich ihn im Tagesglanz, dem hellen.

    Es ist mein Auge vor ihm zugesunken,
    Der mich so seltsam mit dem Blick umwoben,
    In seinem Lichte lieg ich traume-trunken.


    ROSE of FIRE
    by Antonio Machado; trans. by William Ruleman

    Wild lovers, you are woven from the spring:
    Sewn whole from earth and water, wind and sun.
    Inside your eyes the fields are flowering;
    Within your breasts the mountains pant, undone.

    Parade your shared spring in a promenade;
    And drink sans doubt or dread that milk so sweet
    The lusty panther offers in your aid
    Before he grimly stalks you in the street.

    Stroll while the planet’s axis starts to lean
    Its subtle way toward summer’s spacious land,
    The violet shriveled and the almond green.

    Both thirst and fount are now at your command,
    So go: complete love’s old siesta scene,
    The rose of fire still burning in your hand.

    Copyright © 2015 by William Ruleman.


    ROSA de FUEGO
    by Antonio Machado

    Tejidos sois de primavera, amantes,
    de tierra y agua y viento y sol tejidos.
    La sierra en vuestros pechos jadeantes,
    en los ojos los campos florecidos,
    pasead vuestra mutua primavera,
    y aun bebed sin temor la dulce leche
    que os brinda hoy la lúbrica pantera,
    antes que, torva, en el camino aceche.
    Caminad, cuando el eje del planeta
    se vence hacia el solsticio del verano,
    verde el almendro y mustia la violeta,
    cerca la sed y el hontanar cercano,
    hacia la tarde del amor, completa,
    con la rosa de fuego en vuestra mano.


    THE GIANTS NOW
    by William Ruleman

    Faceless giants rule the world we knew.
    They all lack sex and all look quite the same,
    With no belief or race and no real name;
    About them there seems little we can do.

    For, with them, nothing is quite false or true;
    We cannot hope to beat them at their game;
    They dodge each effort to affix a blame;
    Attempts to fight them only make one blue.

    And so we simply languish in their shade
    And scurry round as freely as we can
    And do our best to make love, work, and play

    Inside a world that we ourselves have made—
    One clear no more to woman, child, or man—
    This giants’ world that greets us every day.

    Copyright © 2015 by William Ruleman.


    FINDING THE CENTER
    by William Ruleman

      “Death was an attempt to communicate;
      people feeling the impossibility of
      reaching the centre which, mystically,
      evaded them . . . .”
           —Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

    Clarissa skimmed life’s surface all too much
    And feared that giddy plummet to its core,
    Aware she might, in leaping, suffer such
    Despair that all she’d lived and striven for

    Might prove irrelevant. And so it seemed
    For that sad-sack shell-shocked soldier, Septimus Smith,
    Who wrecked his wits for an England he had dreamed
    His apple yet found distasteful at the pith,

    Controlled by those who’d force him to conform
    And think as they did for a salary.
    He had no wish to die: the day was warm;
    Yet death alone, he felt, could set him free.

    And when he leapt from that sill into the abyss,
    Did the pavement greet him like a kiss?

    Copyright © 2015 by William Ruleman.


    REFUGE
    by William Ruleman

      Hummelberg, Breitenberg, the Black Forest,
      20 September 2010

    Almost autumn now. The apple trees still gleam
    With radiant red and orange suns; the grass and leaves
    Still shine an emerald green as summer fades: a dream
    Emblazoned on memory, though Nature scarcely grieves
    But rests—bestilled, bemused—under blue skies blanketed
    By clouds as soft as shrouds that guard the peaceful dead.

    A troubled wanderer finds a tranquil haven here
    In homes of gentle strangers who speak another tongue.
    He sleeps like a child in his bed at night and feels no fear
    Though these are strangers, and he, no longer very young.

    An ocean away from home, in chill and clean hill air,
    The wanderer breathes, relieved of the demons that hounded him there.           

    Copyright © 2015 by William Ruleman.


    Turbid Siri, heedless of my pain
    by Isabella di Morra; trans. by Wendy Sloan

      The River Siri ran near the Morra Castle
      in remote Basilicata, Southern Italy

    Turbid Siri, heedless of my pain,
    now that I sense the end is drawing near,
    please tell my father all that’s happened here,
    if destiny should bring him back again.

    Explain how I, in dying, could abate
    misfortune and a miserable fate
    by my rare example: his unlucky daughter
    consigns her sullen name to your dark waters.

    And once he’s reached your rocky riverside,
    (but with that thought, what others you compel
    in me, fierce star — how I’ve been thwarted and deprived!),
    tell him, churning up storm-tossed waves in swells,

    “They filled me like this when she was alive —
    her eyes, yes — yes, those rivers of Isabelle.”


    NOTE: Isabella di Morra (1520-1545) was murdered by her brothers in an
    “honor killing,” caught in the act of exchanging Petrarchan sonnets with
    a local count. Originally published posthumously in 1552, her work has
    been included in virtually every anthology of Italian women poets since.
    Some modern scholars, observing techniques in Morra’s poetry that were to
    become typical Romantic tropes (such as use of the pathetic fallacy, and
    placement of the melancholy poet alone confronted by a hostile nature),
    have noted elements seemingly derived from Morra in the work of Torquato
    Tasso, and in later Romantic poetry.

    Copyright © 2015 by Wendy Sloan.


    Torbido Siri, del mio mal superbo
    by Isabella di Morra

    Torbido Siri, del mio mal superbo,
    or ch’io sento da presso il fin amaro,
    fa’ tu noto il mio duolo al Padre caro,
    se mai qui ’l torna il suo destino acerbo.
    Dilli come, morendo, disacerbo
    l’aspra Fortuna e lo mio fato avaro
    e, con esempio miserando e raro,
    nome infelice a le tue onde io serbo.
    Tosto ch’ei giunga a la sassosa riva
    (a che pensar m’adduci, o fiera stella
    come d’ogni mio ben son cassa e priva!)
    inqueta l’onde con crudel procella,
    e di’: “Me accrebber si, mentre fu viva,
    non gli occi no, ma i fiumi d’Isabella.”


    To the Moon
    by Giacomo Leopardi ; trans. by Wendy Sloan

      The recollection of past suffering holds its delights for us.
                   — Cicero

    Ah, graceful moon. Well I remember,
    now that a year’s gone around,
    how I came up over this hill in pain
    to gaze at you; and you hung then over those woods
    just as you do now, brightening everything.
    But your face appeared before my eyes as a tremulous
    cloud through the tears that clung to my lashes.
    So troubled was my life, and is — that story never changes —
    no, my delightful moon. Still, the recollection helps me,
    this counting through the seasons of my grief.
    How welcome it is
    when you’re young — and hope’s road
    is still a long one, and memory’s short —
    this remembrance of things past,
    and yet how sad, and how the hurt endures.


    NOTE: Epigraph added by the translator. Cicero was likely the original
    source of Leopardi’s penultimate line here and, possibly, of Shakespeare’s
    second line in Sonnet 30, “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought/I
    summon up remembrance of things past.” Leopardi was a scholar and philologist
    who studied classical and modern languages, including English, while still
    in his teens; he later edited Cicero’s work. Shakespeare “probably” studied
    rhetoric “extensive[ly]” at school (“Introduction” to Shakespeare: The
    Complete Sonnets and Poems
    , New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 24).
    Had Leopardi also read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30? The virtual identity of Leopardi’s
    line, il rimembrar delle passate cose, with Shakespeare’s “remembrance of
    things past” strongly suggests that he had. It seems unlikely that so erudite
    a scholar and poet as Leopardi traced Shakespeare’s phrase almost word for word
    by mere coincidence. For us, of course, the phrase summons up not Cicero, and
    not Leopardi, but C.K.Scott-Moncrieff’s English translation of Proust’s title,
    A la recherché du temps perdu.

    Copyright © 2015 by Wendy Sloan.


    Alla Luna
    by Giacomo Leopardi

    O graziosa luna, io mi rammento
    Che, or volge l’anno, sovra questo colle
    Io venia pien d’angoscia a rimirarti:
    E tu pendevi allor su quella selva
    Siccome or fai, che tutta la rischiari.
    Ma nebuloso e tremulo dal pianto
    Che mi sorgea sul ciglio, alle mie luci
    Il tuo volto apparia, che travagliosa
    Era mia vita: ed e, ne cangia stile,
    O mia diletta luna. E pur mi giova
    La ricordanza, e il noverar l’etate
    Del mio dolore. Oh come grato occorre
    Nel tempo giovanil, quando ancor lungo
    La speme e breve ha la memoria il corso,
    Il rimembrar delle passate cose,
    Ancor che triste, e che l’affanno duri!


    Sonnet Against the Night
    by Linda M. Fischer

    Consider as you must the fruitless ends
    Of youth that neither knew nor held its own
    Measure and nowise one dear friend
    And know that I now am alone.
    Night hours from me your visage rend,
    As if for us no fitful years had closed,
    To fuel regret and gravid tears to spend
    On what of faith so young we heedless lost.
    I hold you in a chamber of my mind—
    Persuade myself that some things never change—
    And, for the dark, sufficing solace find
    In calling forth the bounty of that age.
    What time and error can no longer lend,
    I secure and with this love amend.

    Copyright © 2015 by Linda M. Fischer.


    On Wearing Shorts
    by Sayoudh Roy

    That March ends winter as a rule
    Sat ill with me for I’d recall
    A lad who wore his shorts to school
    And wore them to the prayer hall

    Bare-legged, sought mercy for my wrongs
    Then clumsy show of stretching arms
    With languid lip served choir songs
    I shivered mild through all these norms

    Now that I’ve pondered long I feel
    Perhaps goose pimples, bristly limbs
    Had small connect with morning chill
    The tingling born of anxious whims

    Diverted children need no toys
    And April opens schools for boys

    Copyright © 2015 by Sayoudh Roy.


    Wash and Wear
    by Jane Blanchard

    The man had two pairs of pants—black and tan.
    Shirts varied more in color, not in style—
    collars were splayed and tieless. The textile
    was always some synthetic rather than
    cotton or wool. His lessons, though, were real—
    the quirks of English grammar; the techniques
    of playwrights, poets, novelists; the piques
    of essayists; the tropes of all such spiel.
    I learned much from the man, despite the fact
    I donned the latest fashions as a belle
    of arts and letters. Once cast, I played well
    the model student—eager and exact.
    Decades later, my wardrobe is quite plain;
    a love of language is what I retain.

    Copyright © 2015 by Jane Blanchard.


    Belatedly, a Sonnet
    by Jane Blanchard

    Today I took the time to write about
    what happened long ago—our brief romance,
    its ending too abrupt perhaps, no doubt
    the consequence of choice and circumstance.

    We run into each other on occasion;
    alone or not, we stop to speak and smile,
    then soon depart with obvious evasion
    of explanations that would take a while.

    Mine could be short: I came to realize,
    for both our sakes, that we were not a match
    in much of anything, that compromise,
    or worse, made neither one of us a catch.

    If you should ask: Why now? Why write at all?
    I guess not doing so, at last, felt small.

    Copyright © 2015 by Jane Blanchard.


    PORTRAITS
    by Robin Helweg-Larsen

    Easy enough, the people in the park,
    A subway addict, or some screaming child:
    Knock off five lines from some chance-heard remark,
    A tic observed, or mood or clothes gone wild.

    A longer piece for loves, coworkers, friends,
    People you’ve bonded with, played some life game;
    Can’t be so flip  —  unless the portrait bends,
    Fictionalizing thoughts in formal frame.

    And closer to you than your own bed mate
    Is, tougher yet, perspective and full view
    Of parents, more than threaded through your fate,
    They’re warp and weft, the loom, the weavers too.

    So, last of all, the golden trophy shelf:
    That great and grand grotesquery, yourself.

    Copyright © 2015 by Robin Helweg-Larsen.