The Poetry Porch presents

the sonnet scroll iv

Copyright © 2001, 2002 by Joyce Wilson


    Recurring Dream
    by Suzanne K. Lang 

    Mother stands, her back to me, face reflected
    in a mirror. She whispers only one word:
    Polygamy. Then, her voice like a finger
    pointing, she asks how I could allow father

    to marry another woman. I wonder,
    startled by her anger, if this is Mother
    or her doppelganger. The space between us
    swells into waves before I seize the meaning

    of her blame. She doesn’t know she’s dead, and so
    she thinks hecoterminouslyhas two wives.
    Though she’s caught in the riptide of illogic,

    powerless to switch her point of view, as she
    is pulled away I plead, But you had cancer.
    She cannot turn to me. She will not answer.

    Copyright © 2002 by Suzanne K. Lang

    Cystic Sonnet
    by Suzanne K. Lang 

         to X

    The ultrasound disclosed I house a cyst.
    Dermoid, the doctor said, since it consists
    of teeth and hair. It’s possible my mind,
    shocked by your sudden death, maligned
    its neural signals so they read offspring
    to substitute for the human we didn’t bring
    into this world: a subconscious defense
    against your inescapable absence.
    You’d think I’d knowthough we’ve evolved a bit
    since we first crawled out of the dark sea’s ditch
    and snorted salt-less airI can’t self-impregnate
    or, more portentous still, reincarnate
    the dead. Sometimes I feel itbiting, brief
    my bundle of baby. I named her Grief.

    Copyright © 2002 by Suzanne K. Lang

    by Suzanne K. Lang 

    As a child, I didn’t wake up screaming
    as I fell from a cliff. Instead, I woke
    up sweaty, clutching my fist, from watching
    one of my front teeth turn black, then fall out.
    The hole was huge, gaping, and though I took
    my tooth all over town, no one could help.

    What could it mean? A dream book said I’d live
    a long life. In a different light, my mom
    said the same thing: It’s an old Chinese curse
    that you’ll outlive all of your relatives.

    I brushed her interpretation aside.
    Who would think of death as a tooth fairy?
    But, once my family started dying,
    I never again dreamed of losing teeth.

    Copyright © 2002 by Suzanne K. Lang

    Summer Music
    by Adam Tessier

    With such an art does the gardenia grow:
    Unfurling petals, spreading leaves once bent,
    Delighting preeners of these perfect rows
    Of saplings with her sickly butter scent.
    Watch all her sugary limbs, now thirsty, glow,
    So lightly watered by a Cuban hand
    Behind this sanitary nursing home
    For affluent Floridians. “Ain’t life grand”
    Wafts from the antiseptic halls and from
    The lips of gaunt retirees, out of their rooms
    To clack croquet this afternoon: it comes,
    Such summer music, helping flowers bloom;
    And thus, with subtle rhumbas marking time,
    The sweet gardenia dances to her prime. 

    Copyright © 2002 by Adam Tessier

    Sonnet on Michelangelo
    by Adam Tessier

    What innate skill he had was not enough.
    So, unobserved, he crept into the cell
    Where the monks had lain cadavers in rough
    Yardage of burlap and coarse linen. Hell,
    He mused, has one more customer in me, 
    As, by tallow light he unfurled bundles,
    Drew outline, form; shifted; added calf, knee;
    Turned; then sliced, noted the tone of muscle;
    Incised deeper; mapped the courses of thin 
    Sinews, the ventral organs, the placement
    Of the rank liver, the yellowed intestines,
    Then swaddled his clammy sitters and went, 
    Sweating, to his bench with his collection
    Of sketches. And then he carved perfection.

    Copyright © 2002 by Adam Tessier

    On Machines and Human Beings
    by Richard Aston

    It is a part of my progressive dream
    that all of us should turn into machines
    and drop those evolutionary bags
    that sack us with mortality, which drags
    us down into a group of molecules
    and separates us into forms so new
    that none of us would recognize that we
    could be the That that we would want to be.

    It is a part of my progressive dream
    that if we all would turn into machines,
    we could live in inanimate bodies
    in freedom from death and biology
    and thus become compatible with outer space
    where we might find another human race.

    Copyright © 2002 by Richard Aston

    In Dream
    by Michael Fantina 

    In dream, beyond serrated hills I soar,
    Bank over valleys near a great salt sea.
    Is there one, I ask, who could fault me,
    Or grudge me such a dream when life is poor?
    Again, in dream, I hear that ocean roar,
    Its giant combers crashing far and free,
    Echoing down my dream, eternally,
    To batter high-walled cliffs and sandy shore.

    It’s not that I so hate the world at noon,
    Or curse it with a will, unceasingly,
    Or, dreaming, call down demons from the moon.
    Forgive me if I somewhat, teasingly,
    Make mockery of bitter ceaseless strife,
    And hint that, yes, there is a better life.

    Copyright © 2001 by Michael Fantina

    by Rhina Espaillat 

    Remembering those others taken slaves,
    skewered by cannibals, or lost, or drowned,
    or those he’d left behind in alien ground
    to sleep as shallow as their hasty graves,
    the captain cursed himself, the gods, the waves,
    his kingdom and his queen, the aged hound
    whose quick prophetic death was grief that crowned
    his first day home disguised among the knaves.

    But no, he rallied, struggled to remind
    himself that fate is kind to the adept
    and punishes the thoughtless and the blind;
    he’d matched the gods; he’d watched while others slept.
    He steeled himself to live, to be resigned,
    as all survivors do. And still, he wept.

    Copyright © 2001 by Rhina Espaillat

    Free Fall 
    by Michael Burch 

    These cloudless nights, the sky becomes a wheel
    where suns revolve around an axle star . . .
    Look there, and choose. Decide which moon is yours.
    Sink Lethe-ward, held only by a heel.

    Advantage. Disadvantage. Who can tell?
    To see is not to know, but you can feel
    the tug sometimes: the gravity, the shell
    as lustrous as a pearl. You sink, you reel

    toward some draining revelation. Air:
    too thin to grasp, to breath. Such pressure. Gasp.
    The stars invert, electric, everywhere.
    And so we fall, down-tumbling through night’s fissure:

    two beings still intent to fall forever
    around each otherfumbling at love’s tether . . .
    now separate, now distant, now together.

    Copyright © 2002 by Michael Burch

    Imperfect Sonnet
    by Michael Burch 

    A word before the light is doused: the night
    is something wriggling through an unclean mind,
    as rats creep through a tenement. And loss
    is written cheaply with the moon’s cracked gloss
    like lipstick through the infinite, to show
    love’s pale yet sordid imprinton us. Go.

    We have not learned love yet, except to cleave.
    I saw the moon rise once . . . but to believe . . .
    was of another century . . . and now . . .
    I have the faith to love, but not the strength.

    Despair, once stretched out to its utmost length,
    lies couched in squalor, watching as the screen
    reveals “love’s” damaged images: its dreams . . .
    and masturbating limply, screams and screams.

    Copyright © 2002 by Michael Burch

    by Michael Burch 

    . . . Among the shadows of the groaning elms,
    amid the darkening oaks, we lose ourselves . . .

    . . . once there were paths that led to coracles
    that clung to piers like loosening barnacles . . .

    . . . where we cannot return, because we lost
    the pebbles and the playthings, and the moss . . .

    . . . hangs weeping gently downward, maidens’ hair
    who never were enchanted, and the stairs . . .

    . . . that led up to the Fortress in the trees
    will not support our weight, but on our knees . . .

    . . . we still might fit inside those splendid hours
    of damsels in distress, of rustic towers . . .

    . . . of voices of the wolves’ tormented howls
    that died, and live in dreams’ soft, windy vowels . . .

    Copyright © 2002 by Michael Burch

    Drive Bye
    by Kevin Gallagher 

    I sat cross-legged swinging on my swing
    feeling less alive than a marionette.
    The neighbor’s children danced under the sunset
    pulling each other’s hair while singing
    songs that had a particular ring
    that made them impossible to forget.
    So I wasn’t surprised when the bullet
    hit my head. I was too busy smiling.
    I smiled when they put me in the casket.
    I smiled when they lowered me under my stone.
    It took my death to bury my hatchet,
    the roots around me remind me of my bones.
    They shot the living daylights out of me.
    I can’t see. You can’t see me. But I be.

    Copyright © 2002 by Kevin Gallagher

    The Street Pavers
    by B. E. Stock 

    As other men retire, we commence 
    Steering our monstrous cranes and gears along 
    The avenue. The grinding tar’s our song, 
    Our drums the filling of a truck’s immense 
    Interior. Amid the darkness dense 
    We flash our orange vesture, and with strong 
    Gestures, when a bus is heading wrong, 
    Wave it beyond the cones’ too fragile fence. 

    What though the silken ribbons of the tar 
    We pour and flatten with an iron wheel 
    In glaring city midnight last an hour 
    Before the dawn? The motorists who mar 
    This surface in the morning will not feel 
    The weary wonder of perfected power. 

    Copyright © 2002 by B. E. Stock

    The Disguise
    by B. E. Stock 

    If I adorn my hair with butterflies, 
    Buy a tight sweater, dance away the night, 
    Make twice the money, publicize my brain, 
    Away with you! I’m safe in my disguise. 
    I fool myself, keep mourning out of sight, 
    And guarantee I will not love again. 

    I waken dizzy to a moonlit room; 
    I cry without remembering the cause; 
    I walk among the crowd with aching jaws, 
    Smiling with happiness, they all assume. 
    “Tear up the clothing, manifest the gloom, 
    Go for a crewcut! crumble in the jaws 
    Of pain, until the beast no longer gnaws 
    Your bones. Then, let the orchestra resume.”

    Copyright © 2002 by B. E. Stock

    The Undoing
    by B. E. Stock 

    Whom did I love? I scarcely use his name 
    And scarcely think of him. And yet I miss 
    Something, and reach for something. To my shame, 
    After nine years and many an ardent kiss, 
    Here I remainno pain, no ice, no flame. 
    In all that time we surely climbed to bliss 
    Just once without critique or doubt or blame. 
    I don’t remember. It has come to this: 

    The ring upon my finger’s turned to lies, 
    And I have fled the home I furnished well, 
    And found this garret, and I find it sweet. 
    The beauty’s gone that sparkled in your eyes. 
    I wonder, do you mean the love you tell, 
    Or does your heart with dread of silence beat? 

    Copyright © 2002 by B. E. Stock

    From the Other Side
    by B. E. Stock 

    Right to the end I was Francis Bernadone. 
    I could never be free of that, however I tried. 
    I have been sent to you because you cried 
    To God that you were rootless and alone. 
    What would you rather bea corporate clone 
    Perhaps, a video life, a Mafia bride, 
    Incestuous ethnic slapped by macho pride, 
    Or a trapped farmer’s wife where reapers drone? 

    Listen to the wild wind in the pines, and know 
    It sings for you, whose voices waken the dawn, 
    And love it back by daring to be free. 
    On every moment beckoning, bestow 
    Yourself anew, let other years begone, 
    Createyou, who belong to Eternity! 

    Copyright © 2002 by B. E. Stock

    In Defense of Meter
    by Michael Burch 

    The earth is full of rhythms so precise
    the octave of the crystal can produce
    a trillion oscillations, yet not lose
    a second’s beat. The ear needs no device

    to hear the unsprung rhythms of the couch
    drown out the mouth’s; the lips can be debauched
    by kisses, should the heart put back its watch
    and find the pulse of love, and sing, devout.

    If moons and tides in interlocking dance
    obey their numbers, what is left to chance?
    Should poets be more laxtheir circumstance
    as humble as it is?or readers wince

    to see their ragged numbers thin, to hear
    of Nero’s death, and mourn the Cavalier?

    Copyright © 2002 by Michael Burch