The Poetry Porch presents

the sonnet scroll xii

Copyright © 2012 by Joyce Wilson


By Kristin LaTour

    When she was a girl, her mother tied rags
    torn, wet and white, into her dull, bronze hair.
    There were rugs knotted and braided, dragged
    to where the kitchen floor led to the stairs.
    The garage held buckets of pink shop rags
    her father wiped across his grease stained hands.
    The house was filled with old scraps, and time lagged.     
    They moved apart, like dry blown desert sand.

    See these somber photos of girls in curls?
    Imagine Gram, the stove, how she would cook
    cabbage rolls, ham hocks, frosting in swirls;
    hear echoes of Grandpa’s silent hard work.
    Ages and years later, feel ragged and frayed
    and knotted, regarding those faded days.

    Copyright © 2012 by Kristin LaTour

By B. E. Stock

    At times a lull upon the mighty sea
    Or busy breakers when the sun goes down,
    At times a brooding greenish misery
    Or foamy lace of an abandoned gown.
    At times it looms and blocks the midday sun
    And threatens to engulf its residents,
    But when the fight with cold or mice is won
    It soon goes flat, collapses and relents.

    Like fishermen we talk of getting out
    Knowing this crazed apartment is as much
    A part of us as water for a sail,
    And tides are what our hands revolve about—
    Yet longing for a peace our hearts can touch,
    Shelter beyond our ken, that will not fail.

    Copyright © 2012 by B. E. Stock

By B. E. Stock

         “I have been half in love with easeful death. . .
         to cease upon the midnight with no pain.” —John Keats

    We may not mind, but sacred flesh rebels.
    It takes us down a thousand fearful ways
    Makes pain the minotaur of every maze
    And questions all our heavens and our hells.
    We in our weariness may hear the bells
    That mark our passage, seek the pleasant haze
    Of incense—when it clears, the terror stays,
    The worm invades, the reek of rot repels!

    What ease there is comes after or before
    The agony, the visions and the quiver,
    Not thanks to any languor of the brain
    But to the death that opens onto more,
    Thanks to the Maker of the flesh, the Giver,
    Who turns our very suffering to gain.

    Copyright © 2012 by B. E. Stock

By B. E. Stock

    Amid the glass and steel this church remains
    Its steps disintegrating, windows smashed
    The porch a prey to violets, the stains
    Of rust upon the walls where seasons clashed.
    And yet a statue lovingly maintained
    Still stretches out its arms to those who pass—
    That Savior seeking, though he be disdained,
    All whom the wolves of hate and greed harass.

    A little man upon his shoulder stands—
    “Good Thief” in Latin reads the brazen scroll
    Upon the cross he cradles in his hands.
    The pedestal’s inscribed, “God rest the soul
    Of Vito Cardinale,” known to be
    A major criminal, last century.

    Copyright © 2012 by B. E. Stock

    By Marcy Jarvis

    Pasquino, you just stand there like a stone,
    impassive, as the people come to read
    the lampoons they deface you with; no need
    to open up—your mouth is not your own,
    although you are the talking head of Rome!
    For those who have no voice, let tongues be freed
    against oppressive government and greed;
    for those who must speak out—confess, atone
    for those who have no choice—you stand, indeed,
    though only half a man. You’re just a bust,
    politically, a pawn, no more, no less.
    Your nose may be a Roman’s but your creed—
    along with any armor—has been lost,
    and what you think is anybody’s guess.

    (Pasquino is the talking statue of Rome to which people still affix satirical poems
    and lampoons which have become known as “pasquinades.”)

    Copyright © 2012 by Marcy Jarvis

    By X. J. Kennedy

                                          —after Baudelaire, “Le Gouffre”

    Wherever Pascal went, went his abyss,
       Like a good dog. All’s chasm now: desire,
       Dream, action, word. How many times my hair
    Rears upright as the winds of terror pass.
    Up, down, around me—fathomlessness, loss,
       Silence, seductive space. On night’s chalk board
       The professorial finger of the Lord
    Traces unending nightmares, and I toss,
    Leery of sleep as of some open pit
       Oozing with spooks that leads down who knows where.      
    My windows gape wide on the infinite;
    My tortured spirit, racked with dizzy spells,
       Envies the void. It’s blithely unaware,
    While here I’m trapped in Things, in Numerals!

    Copyright © 2012 by X. J. Kennedy

    By Lois Elaine Heckman

    You made me love my body for the way
    it warmed up in solfeggio, then soared
    into a melody that turned the wait
    delight. Your fingers vibrated the chords
    to start the dance’s syncopation, pitch
    crescendoing until the music reached
    its climax and, diminishing the pace,
    concluded, turning turmoil to release.
    You taught my body how to feel, and let
    it sing responses. Then you stole away
    the resonance, abandoning the beat,
    and made me wish I’d never learned the lays.
    Alone, I hate my body’s euphony,
    and it reciprocates, betraying me.

    Copyright © 2012 by Lois Elaine Heckman

    By Lois Elaine Heckman

    Her left hand curls above the breast, the right
    arm circling a sash around her waist,
    while wasted flesh cocoons into a life
    become “persistent vegetative state.”
    She still can sleep and breathe and cry, but eyes
    are focused into nowhere, for there is
    nowhere to see. Her lips appear to smile
    (illusion we embrace), in a device
    enacted by the body when its brain
    performs an automatic anarchy
    of false reactions, letting us maintain
    our hopes for future-time recovery,
    as we refuse to stop believing in
    a lifting lip which won’t deny the end.

    Copyright © 2012 by Lois Elaine Heckman

    By Lois Elaine Heckman

    So little time remains to tell your thoughts,
    so little time before this time will end
    and fly into forgetfulness, to blot
    out memories which will no longer find
    a home. You’ll lapse into a world unknown
    to your existing insights or ideas.
    Speak now: I need to hear! Before sense goes
    and recognition fades and disappears,
    describe the truths concealed in what you feel,
    and the significance that they project
    on each raw sentiment that you reveal.
    Depict what observation can’t detect.
    The sunset flares and beckons you to say
    the words, before dark swallows them away.

    Copyright © 2012 by Lois Elaine Heckman

By Victor Howes

    Atop those dizzy heights we barely spoke.
    We drew each gasping breath in pain, felt ill,
    And stumbled, fainted, fell asleep, and woke
    To place one further brick on the huge pile
    We had amassed, passing each stone from hand
    To hand, hoping to reach the highest stars,
    To scale the heavens, godlike, and to stand
    On the top of all the world. A dream was ours—
    Folly—as when our old familiar words
    Broke into nonsense from our failing lips.
    We uttered in foreign syllables, absurd.
    Could this be madness or apocalypse?
    Our tower trembled as it fell to rubble.
    We fled. Our outcries gibbered into Babel.

    Copyright © 2012 by Victor Howes

By Victor Howes

    Pineneedle cold. The last three crows wing home
    Across an ashen sky. The wise oaks bare
    Their branches and endure, and here I come,
    Minus ten windchill, and my toes gone numb,
    To where we stood last summer, where you stood
    And said, “No further.” Last July was hot.
    We watched a careful partridge and her brood
    Steal from the brush and cross an open lot.

    They vanished with a scurry in the leaves,
    And you are gone. A solitary actor
    Scatters mixed grains and suet. He believes
    The birds will come to him, but as day grows
    Older and colder, suddenly he goes.
    He hadn’t reckoned on the windchill factor.

    Copyright © 2012 by Victor Howes

Grinnell Glacier Drawings
By Barbara Lydecker Crane

    These drawings aren’t from life. I wasn’t there;
    the others kept on hiking to the glacier
    while I perched on my canvas fold-up chair,
    sketchbook spread before the lake. Erasures
    of errant starts scratched into the page
    like tiny echoes of the creeping scrape
    that hollowed out the lake, this ancient stage
    of constant play. Striations, shadows, shapes
    kept shifting in the light. I let it fall,
    my book, and closed my eyes.
                                                       Then, two times,
    I startled at a distant, feral call,
    a minor-key lament that dipped and climbed,
    recording into bedrock memory
    these views that I imagined I could see.

    Copyright © 2012 by Barbara Lydecker Crane

By Lee Evans

    I’m glad you went to heaven when we died;
    I’m also glad I didn’t go there, too.
    Instead I ranged in deserts far and wide,
    While all your kindred spirits clung to you.
    My death was permanent; I rose no more
    To resurrect the life where we once loved
    And intermingled where our spheres were joined
    Just barely. In that narrow strait we moved,
    And called the place our home. But when the merge
    Reached only through our atmospheres and failed
    To sound beneath the surface, there occurred
    The rift between our worlds: Apart they sailed;
    And only once did I look back to see
    You with the ones you loved, but not with me.

    Copyright © 2012 by Lee Evans

By Lee Evans

    A child becomes the world that he creates,
    And sports with it as though it were his toy.
    It grows with him, delightful in his joys
    And mournful in his sorrows, till one day
    The course of things begins to turn, and stays
    His present with the shadows of his past.
    He seeks a refuge from the wintry blast
    Of old age that consumes him, as his May
    Declines through August into cold December;
    And so he shuts himself off from the flood
    That bore him thus far—seeks but to remember
    What never can again bloom from the bud,
    Save for the child born of his death: for Love
    Inflames the world once more from dying embers.

    Copyright © 2012 by Lee Evans

By Lee Evans

    The tent caterpillar and I fall asleep
    On a weathered wooden bench in the sun.
    The pink and white rhododendrons
    Are not to him what they are to me.

    Tomorrow morning, when I pack my lunch,
    Out of the box will spring these azaleas,
    Cattails, croaking frogs, photosynthesis
    Weaving its green leaves before me.

    When the worm becomes a butterfly,
    Out of the dark cocoon will spring
    All the whispering leaves he has nibbled,
    All the half-dreams of our shared siesta.

    Copyright © 2012 by Lee Evans

By Lee Evans

    To sit down at a bed and breakfast,
    And endure an hour chit-chatting
    With half a dozen strangers—
    (Practice makes perfect, I guess)

    That sure is hard to do for a man
    Who spends too much of his time alone,
    Rehearsing his thoughts to himself.
    (It’s hard to get up in the morning.)

    The coffee should have inspired him—
    Instead, he felt drained, nostalgic
    For those private booths in diners
    (Practice makes perfect, I guess),

    Where the waitress brought your order,
    Then left; and the cashier said
    “Hello” then “goodbye”—that’s all.
    It’s hard to get up in the morning.

    Copyright © 2012 by Lee Evans

    By Joyce Wilson

    The siren would have made Poseidon reel!
    Like Gods they rose in groggy dishabille:
    First Hermes staggered through without a robe,
    Enfeebled by the lamp’s florescent strobe,

    While Aphrodite, wrapped in pink peignoir,
    Left the heavy exit door ajar,
    And Hestia joked that she’d sneak unawares
    To meet the mighty Ares on the stairs,

    As Demeter, in crisis with a frown,
    Tried to fix her hair, half up, half down,
    While Hera, wearing ugly cotton pants,
    Cursed her husband Zeus in sibilants.

    As if expecting he might be betrothed,
    Apollo rushed outside completely clothed.

    Copyright © 2012 by Joyce Wilson

    By Aidan Rooney

    The mesclun patch I planted early spring
    in the chickenshit-manured rockery
    that still yields bowls of tangy greens has gone
    to seed again, making a mockery
    of the Burpee packet’s hardiness zones
    in colour-coded bands that cut across
    the United States, golden, umber tones
    in the deep South cooling, heading North,
    to greens, and on into the very blue
    the sky is this mid-December morning
    when nothing should any longer blossom
    the way these mustards and radicchios do,
    making a bolt for foreverness, warning
    of more to come, ridiculous, awesome.

    Copyright © 2012 by Aidan Rooney

    By Aidan Rooney

                                          —after Stéphane Mallarmé

    Nothing, this foam, but verse, first draft,
    that works itself out in the flute;
    just as, far off, some seals afloat,
    form mostly a belly-up raft.

    We set sail, O my diverse, daft
    friends, I already on the boot,
    you on the swank prow of the boat
    that cuts through winter’s lightning draught;

    a sweet drunkenness urges me,
    despite the surges of the sea,
    to raise this toast, this salut

    Solitude, reef, starburst –
    to whatever measures up to
    the blank canvas of our artwork.

    Copyright © 2012 by Aidan Rooney

    By Aidan Rooney

    Revere House, Boston, 1864

    After the complimentary banquet
    in honour of Admiral Лесовский
    where city councilors hovered over
    oyster and ortolan hors d’oeuvres
    then sat to turtle soup, canvasback duck,
    miscellaneous grosses pièces and aspic-
    crouted sole à la Victoria, cailles
    volantes sur socle, snipe, wigeon, teal,
    &c., &c., &c.,
    on into the bonbons and chantilla
    baskets, Lady Fingers, and a Charlotte Russe,
    toast upon toast to sorting out the fuss
    down south and, ad nauseam, the hymn
    to universal political equilibrium.

    Copyright © 2012 by Aidan Rooney

    4th of July
    By Aidan Rooney

    Do you mean, citizens, to mock me?
    —Frederick Douglass, July 5. 1852

    A redskin in a shock of silver hair
    at the wheel of a dark blue Escalade
    with front and back vanity license plates
    for veteran / ex-prisoner of war,
    notices one not long back from the war,
    headed to fireworks on the esplanade,
    a bit banged up, a do-rag where the plates
    do well to keep him pumping in his chair.
    The elder parks, unfolds his folding chair
    alongside his inheritor, and waits
    for the long overture to escalate
    its fussy pastoral to scores of war,
    to lean in and shout above the riproars
    of cannon on the river: this day is yours.

    Copyright © 2012 by Aidan Rooney