The Poetry Porch presents

the sonnet scroll vi/vii

Copyright © 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 by Joyce Wilson


by Julia Budenz

July 20, 2004
Francesco Petrarca
July 20, 1304 - July 18, 1374

    Shall I enumerate your lives as three:
    That of the mortal flesh, in exile born,
    That of the Latin learning not outworn,
    That of a sheer immortal poetry?

    Is body or is book more real, more key,
    More ready after dark for dawning morn?
    Latin lasts long beyond its antique bourn.
    Art lives in likeness to Romanity.

    Your body traveled Alps, took roads to Rome.
    The corpus of your work fares farthest ways
    Posting to scholars and to sonneteers

    Distinctions of the tomb and of the tome:
    Those seven decades failed of those two days;
    These seven centuries filled all these years.

    Copyright © 2004 by Julia Budenz. From “King Orpheus,” the last section of “Towards Farthest Thule,”      
    the fourth book of “The Gardens of Flora Baum.”

After Montale
by Teresa Iverson

    Perla del Mondo

    murmur of Ligurian vowels
    at harborside, shush of palms,
    then bellnotes tumbling
    from the town,
    arched fins of dolphins
    and one patch, deepening blue
    in the pale Mediterranean

    Caught between cannot and must
    the heart retreats
    to cliff-face, scabrous mirror,
    the sea at Portofino
    twisting and twisting the hem
    of events, gods’ broth
    refining tiniest seeds

    Copyright © 2007 by Teresa Iverson.

Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir à la chandelle
by Pierre de Ronsard (1584)
Translated by Henry Weinfield

        Some evening when you’re old: the light begins to wane;
    You’re spinning thread beside the fire and winding off the skein
        Suddenly you recall the lines I spun and sung:
    “I was the inspiration for Ronsard when I was young.”

        You’ll be without a servant who hears what you have said,
    And, drowsy from her labor, only yearns to be in bed,
        But at the sound of Ronsard, having risen, will not raise
    Blessings upon your very head with immortal praise.

        I’ll be beneath the earth, a phantom without bones,
    A shade who’s gone to take his rest where myrtles cast their shade;
        You’ll be at the hearth, like other withered crones,

    Thinking upon my love and on your proud disdain with sorrow.
        If you believe me, live! don’t wait until tomorrow:
    Gather the roses life holds out before they start to fade.

    Copyright © 2007 by Henry Weinfield.

    by Richard Moore

    Democracy must function . . .
    properly. In our State
    (he says with careful unction)
    we must discriminate.

    It’s time to recognize
    citizens aren’t all equal.
    States founded on such lies
    end quickly, have no sequel.

    The leveler with guile
    ambitious to undo me,
    sly, “upwardly mobile,”
    supposes he sees through me.

    The Godless crook, the grafter...
    hey, you there, stop that laughter!

    Copyright © 2007 by Richard Moore.

    Your e-Verse
    by Michael Burch

    for the posters and posers on

    I cannot understand a word you’ve said
    (and this despite an adequate I.Q.);
    it must be some exotic new haiku
    combined with Latin suddenly undead.

    It must be hieroglyphics mixed with Greek.
    Have Pound and T. S. Eliot been cloned?
    Perhaps you wrote it on the pot, so stoned
    you spelled it backwards, just to be oblique.

    I think you’re very funnyso, “Yuk! Yuk!”
    I know you must be kidding; didn’t we
    write crap like this and call it “poetry,”
    a form of verbal exercise, P.E.,
    in kindergarten, when we ran “amuck?”

    Oh, sorry, I forgot, you “made it new.”
    Perhaps I still can learn a thing or two
    from someone more original, than you.

    Copyright © 2007 by Michael Burch.

    by Teresa Iverson

    We are moles, blind, scruffling in the dark.

    “Back to the mines,” you say, so right
    after breakfast, we disperse to territories
    off the map, cross-hatched out of the design.

    In this semi-terrain, Earth slips
    another cog, sunlight’s reflection shimmies
    on boards peeling grey paint. . .

    Kick up a pebble beside a stonewall,
    a chipmunk scatters, and you pause,
    scribble another line:

    life conversing with death

    Copyright © 2007 by Teresa Iverson.

    Until the Cuticles Bleed
    by Rebecca Seiferle

    It’s not the desire to wound but the desire
    for perfection that makes one gnaw
    upon oneself: that one good nail, spared the ruin
    of the others. Some impossible idea
    to smooth out any ragged edge that makes
    a hand into a paw, a wounded thing of wince,
    unable to pick up a needle or to thread an eye,
    so wounded and so wounding, that the buttons
    of that lovely dress which once fell so lightly away
    are torn off in one’s grip and clatter tactlessly to floor

    Copyright © 2007 by Rebecca Seiferle.

    The Shearing
    by Rebecca Seiferle

    Each hour they grow fewer, the splayed
    lipped, white drift of the apple blossoms
    falling to wind, late frost, and ninety lumens
    of the brilliance of paper falling, shredded
    to the floor, even incised with the black burning
    of someone else’s sacred defoliation, love is not
    transitory enough but snail-like shapes
    self to shell, or hooks like scorpion tail
    in crevice or niche, long past luck or life.
    Who wants to love forever? Love should fall
    like the apple blossoms, die at the kiss
    of a bee, learn to perish, come to an end.

    Copyright © 2007 by Rebecca Seiferle.

    After John Donne’s “The Dream”
    by Rebecca Seiferle

    Now do all my metaphors break. Yet still
    I err with these sweet names: of bee, of hive,
    or honeycomb, o sweetheart, o honey, my dear.
    Each metaphor bears a distortionits gaze but
    a facet of a dragonfly’s stereoscopic eye
    and a woundthe deer that leaps when the arrow flies,
    the iron deep into the fleshthat makes love,
    even divinely met, a wounding and a mortal
    pain, of consuming and of being consumed,
    when what the heart most longs for is an end
    to all these songs of predator and prey.
    To dwell in some other paradisiacal o you
    where, beyond all “Feare, Shame, and Honor,”
    one wakes not to wonder if “Thou art not thou,”
    but to bear the wonder of all being, where I
    am I and you are you and love but is and is.

    Copyright © 2007 by Rebecca Seiferle.

    by William Conelly

         For Elizabeth Ann

    You hike a trail of fascinating places.
    I fall a stride behind, then more, until
    Within the rhythm of our different paces,
    You’re still moving, and I am nearly still.

    After some time we ramble back together,
    Along a gray canal, through boot-deep mud,
    Then climb a footbridge beaded by the weather,
    Choosing separate slippery steps across,
    Albeit side-by-side. In grass beyond
    We pause, consult a map, and even kiss,

    The kiss of love’s belated recognition:
    Where we’re going, where we’ve precisely been,
    Are less than any moment’s shared condition,
    The walk uphill, our seeking home again.

    Copyright © 2007 by William Conelly.

    The Street
    by Michael Fantina

    I knew I cobbled wholeness, on the cheap,
    My promises I kept like some new shirt
    For half a year, but then I saw that dirt
    Had stained the sleeve. Surely, no man might keep
    A shirt unclean? I was a gent, no creep,
    And after all, I thought, she’s just a skirt,
    A wooden-headed, flighty little flirt
    Who bored me half to death or half to sleep.

    But like the CIA, I was discreet,
    I broke their hearts like mallets breaking bones,
    With less thought than for girls who case the fleet
    Who spend the night, when asked, as Mrs. Jones.
    The Fates my several fortunes now unseat,
    And I know pangs, and well I know the street.

    Copyright © 2007 by Michael Fantina.

    Adam’s Lament
    by Chard deNiord

    You came the last but were the first to learn
    that coming last you were the first in turn,
    a second thought of God and dream of mine.
    I understand the curse of your position.
    I too would pray for an obvious sign.
    My case unravels as my faith conditions.
    You were blessed with cause I can’t object.
    I understand your wanting back my dream.
    Your bitter syllogism is correct:
    I am a man and thus not what I seem,
    the only child for whom my children grieve.
    I would have vivified them too from dream,
    but they, unborn and yet to be conceived,
    came only after we had been deceived.

    Copyright © 2007 by Chard deNiord.

    Eve’s Lament
    by Chard deNiord

    I am granted a few last words by an oak
    that only listens: a few vain wishes
    and cigarette that I refuse to smoke.
    I wish my husband, the minor poet of fishes
    and trees, had seen the world with greater vision,
    had stopped for a moment to hear the ocean’s legion
    of silent names. See how he tags and ribbons
    the trees as if they were endangered women.
    See how he stares forever at what’s forbidden
    again, each flower and drupe, each apple and lemon.
    Why listen to a man who’d rather polish his tongue
    than study the koans of the child beside him,
    than cleanse his mouth with the coal of a seraphim?
    I’m on my way to a country that can’t be sung.

    Copyright © 2007 by Chard deNiord.

by Bob Brooks

    A public elementary school, whose name
    I don’t remember, sat across the street
    from our apartment building, and the game was,
    park in the paved schoolyard overnight,
    be gone next day before the teachers came.
    Amazingly, this mostly worked. I beat it
    out of there each morning at first light,
    then back past dark in time to stake my claim.

    My wife and child, meanwhile, strolled up the Hill
    to where the city showed its past, and best:
    the State House, Common, Garden, and the rest;
    or down, toward the future, where until
    just months before, the old West End had stood,

    now rubble. An entire neighborhood
    gone, depopulated by Renewal,
    no families left, no child left to school.

    Copyright © 2007 by Bob Brooks.

by Susan Donnelly

    The bank downtown has fossil-marbled walls.
    Its elevators are elegant small rooms
    with inlaid ceilings. On an upper floor
    the pleasant lawyer brings me to a view
    from one window of the golden State House dome,
    then challenges: can I guess the name
    of that building with the cross just over there?
    I know few churches, take a guess, and score.
    Calmed and congratulated, I settle down
    to claim, affirm, attest and signify
    that, principalities and powers aside,
    my wants today are simple: interest, lower.
    Otherwise, all I need I seem to own.
    I sign my name to that, then sign some more.

    Copyright © 2007 by Susan Donnelly.

    Declining Markets
    by Wendy Vardaman

    Late Octobertrees turning, leaves
    leaving. Our birch unchanged still except
    for fungus spreading beneath its outstretched
    arms, its apron: round and brown, risen to receive
    the season’s callers. Swallows and the squirrels achieve
    satisfaction from a meager cupboard. Swift and deft,
    moving nimbly from one reluctant host to the next:
    may it bring release, relief, reprieve.

    Something untoward has happened here
    this year. A blind woman eats just so:
    hunched in a frail and failing pause,
    watchful for thieves, poison, revolution.
    Nervous consumers pull back. What is slated to
    fall? Discretionary spending, old hair, Newton’s Laws.

    Copyright © 2007 by Wendy Vardaman.

by Richard Aston

    “You’ll have to dig away the ashes piled
    against the quarry rock they used for cellar walls.
    Now it’s time to cover and veneer,
    put in a bar, dim lights, and decorate.”

    But since I didn’t move as he would have I should,
    he chided me with half his will and said,
    “My father would have made a man of you,”
    leaving an opening for my reply,
    “Then why did he have you turn out so poor?”

    Three of us heard what it was I’d said.
    Two would have had it back, the other laughed,
    the carpenter, showing his teeth, holding a stare.
    He knew that it was more than just a passing joke,
    as he turned and muttered, “Nothing is square.”

    Copyright © 2007 by Richard Aston.