The Poetry Porch presents

the sonnet scroll xvii

Copyright © 2017 by Joyce Wilson


    By K. E. Duffin

    In glinting scrapyards and fallen playgrounds,
    evening feels the icy bones of the built world,
    caresses the suede of rust and dissolution.
    Day's bright intermission is ending.
    Epileptic storms of light are herding crowds
    as a jet leaves its shining needle in sky silk,
    a comet's tail, stitching unfinished tapestries,
    warless Bayeux, where people fall like diagrams
    among shimmering parks and expressways — 
    the city is studded with blacked-out funeral homes
    mixed in among the living, like points
    of retinal blindness. Clinical topographies
    of age burn in that curtained blaze, leaving
    desire and distance, enameled window views.

    Copyright © 2017 by K. E. Duffin.

    By K. E. Duffin

    How the sky opened up, radiant, Tuscan,
    with rapid Mongolian clouds hurrying to recede.
    I remember those summers, and the melding shade
    of chiaroscuro glossaries of sun — 

    You never arrive in a jubilant season,
    dappled with longing, bannered in words.
    Even in dreams, you are always fleeing toward
    whatever equanimity of reason

    will deny the pleasure of longed-for antiphon, deny
    the melodious, burnished meadows of stillness.
    In this inlay of sunlight, anguish and trope,

    I find you where the gulls are blown, wordless,
    in the whipped splendor of the cold sky,
    on a plane that leaves its javelin of smoke.

    Copyright © 2017 by K. E. Duffin.

    Walker Lake
    By K. E. Duffin

    Fragment of dark glass in arid lands.
    Are you flying over too? An insectoid shadow
     — your plane in ’45? — rippling below,
    merges with the creeping shade that expands

    to mimic nightfall on anonymous slopes.
    From thirty thousand feet above I see
    remnants of Lahontan shores, spiny
    ridges tapering north, lashed with ropes

    of light, and think of you, as distant now
    as the Pleistocene. Vast seas drain
    away, depths become desert day by day,

    until each thing arrives at its negation.
    Wordless now like the wind, how
    will you speak? I’ll listen. Shadow, stay.

    Copyright © 2017 by K. E. Duffin.

    A Time To Dream
    By Mary Freeman

    Exhausted at the early end of day,
    The children all in bed, she leaves the game,
    The time when grown-ups are supposed to play,
    And sleeps instead — next, nothing is the same.
    No more the candle burning at each end,
    The rising early, staying up too late — 
    Now come dreams a well-kept night can send:
    Enchanting — how! — the little rose-hipped gate;
    Familiar now, the plane, the upper air,
    The knowing glance, the perfect stranger’s eye,
    The beckoning path that leads to sea somewhere:
    It makes her laugh to know she still can fly!
    She’s forty-two; it is the stuff of sleep.
    But still the joy is lasting, and it’s deep.

    Copyright © 2017 by Mary Freeman.

    Brassica nigra
    By A. Adams Elias

    Bitter herb of derelict places, Mustard:
    You flourish in prickly curls of richest verdure.
    A weed, a tonic, a staple, a spice — a survivor — 
    Satiating collard, defiant, you will endure.
    Like rumpled laundry hung from a window,
    You throw your four-petaled flag, and see,
    Rose-veined joy, naive white or yellow — 
    Laughter, so careless, flapping in the breeze.
    But oh! How you gripe at harvest’s haste,
    And only with argument will you release,
    To me, those tiny kernals of kick-ass taste,
    From wrinkled knuckled grip — no life of ease!
    Yet patient I am with your cantankerous ways,
    And faithful are you to feed with humor and grace.

    Copyright © 2017 by A. Adams Elias.

    By Nikki Raymond

    They seem political, a colloquy
    of vultures in their capstans of black feathers
    like judges’ robes, as one pale eye considers
    just what he might inherit, skeptically.
    There’s whole flock of them, it could be thirty,
    prawny claws sunk in mud. And each one hovers
    indifferent, equidistant from the others,
    lobbyists hanging around a lobby.
    Binoculars! Two beaks wrestle a bit
    of black stuff hanging down from grinning bone.
    A third pecks avidly at the eye craters.
    A white spine flaps — badger’s? A baby gator’s?
    This scrapping’s how they share. Until they’re done,
    they hold it in one place by tearing it.

    Copyright © 2017 by Nikki Raymond.

    Dust Devil
    By David Stephenson

    At the far end of a one-time parking lot
    Abandoned to advancing disrepair,
    A short-lived spinning updraft of warm air
    Formed and zigzagged like a billiard shot
    Among the potholes, churning up the rot
    And scattering dirt and dead leaves everywhere,
    Until its driving winds were drawn elsewhere 
    And it turned to a wisp, and then was not.

    Unmoved, birds chirp and slender saplings sway
    In the surrounding swath of wilderness,
    A fenced-in site now pristine and untamed.
    Was this just nature’s way of showing joy
    Over a windfall of emptiness,
    This dancing on forgotten ground reclaimed?

    Copyright © 2017 by David Stephenson.

    By William Ruleman

    (Langensoultzbach, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France, 3 October 2016)

      “And, little town, thy streets forevermore
          Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
              Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.”

                — John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

    I had to see you once before I died,
    For you were where one part of our story ended,
    You, with your Fachwerkhäuser and flowers well-tended,
    Your sheep and sheep dog and cozy countryside.

    On seeing you, I now can understand
    The places where my forebears chose to stay.
    The velvet Vosges loom not too far away.
    (Our clan prefers a mountain close at hand.)

    Though none resides in town, a native said,
    Many a Ruhlmann lives in the region still.
    But every street was shy of folk, forlorn

    The day I visited. Had I been born
    Two centuries late? Still, how one’s fancy will
    Adorn those allées with a sanguine dead!

    Copyright © 2017 by William Ruleman.

    By William Ruleman

    They wrote and painted as the Spirit bade;
    They gave no thought to what the Fashions said;
    They only hoped that everything they made
    Would still live on long after they were dead.

    And never once should they give in to doubt:
    Their task on earth was simply to create.
    And when they found their feelings in a rout,
    To master them would mean they mastered fate,

    For every moment meant eternity;
    And if they dared to let their strong faith slip,
    They would ache from Urizen’s tyranny — 
    Feel those mind-forged manacles’ deadly grip — 

    And so they labored on until they died,
    Faithful that Forever was on their side.

    Copyright © 2017 by William Ruleman.

    By William Ruleman

    I find my kindred humans seldom kind.
    And more and more, their manic chatter seems
    So like the barking dogs in my darkest dreams.
    At times I dread that I might lose my mind.

    The town’s temptations make the wisest blind
    To all the tender life that ever teems
    From pink of dawn to sunset’s golden gleams
    In Wamba’s woods, where I tend to hide with my hind.      

    Yet Paradise is all too soon pushed out.
    The coos of love give way to hate’s crude groans,
    And calm content relents to cruelty’s charms.

    Still, storming Eden with their raunchy rout,
    They find their hounds spellbound and mute as stones,
    Their barbs in my breast, the quivering hind in my arms.

    Copyright © 2017 by William Ruleman.

    By Paul Boldt; trans. By William Ruleman

    The birds, swept down in one swoop from the gust that blows       
    Through the garden, land on the lawn’s lush radiance,
    Benumbed by the scents that pepper the picket fence
    Beside the house, with its fourteen types of rose.

    Down the yellow stairs that grain the green,
    You come in white, sprayed by the winds’ rough swell;
    And the nerve fibers of your eyes can smell
    The redolence of those warm blooms, still unseen.

    Joy of the tropics wakes. In the sky’s blue sea,
    The clouds, like glowing phantoms, catch the light.
    And you, with all your fresh blood’s fragrant hum,

    Take the sun along in a love-filled night.
    Like golden bees, the light clings to the tree — 
    Light that gnaws at your lips as it might a plum.

    Copyright © 2017 by William Ruleman.

    By Paul Boldt

    Die Vögel sprangen von den Winden auf den Garten
    Und fielen auf die hellen Rasenbeet,
    Betäubt vom Duft der blühenden Staket
    Am weißen Haus mit vierzehn Rosenarten.

    Die gelben Steige, die den Rasen masern,
    Kommst du in Weiß, berieselt von den Winden,
    Und deine Augen duften noch den Blinden  — 
    Die warmen Blumen an den Nervenfasern

    Freude der Tropen wächst. Im blauen Raum
    Zünden die Wolken, leuchtende Phantome.
    Und du, in deines Blutes Aura und Arome,

    Nimmst Sonne mit — in eine Liebesnacht.
    Gleich goldnen Bienen hängt das Licht im Baum,
    Das deinen Mund wie eine Frucht benagt.

    By Joseph von Eichendorff; trans. by William Ruleman

    You saw the fairy comb her golden hair
    In early morn when all the wood was still;
    But many come to grief in her rockbed there,
    And no one knows the one who’ll do her will.

    I’ve heard folks speak of quite a different dame
    Down in the lowlands; clowns will show you round
    Her castle, hamlet, park — all yours to claim:
    Wed the woman! Why suffer on sorceress-ground?

    They’ll raise you onto a phaeton, the merry rout;
    The wedding bells will ring, the bottles flash;
    They’ll trail your train — all bluebloods — and they show it.

    Yet if the fairy’s gaze should find you out
    As you pass the wood and not burn you down to ash,
    Farewell, for you have never been a poet!

    Copyright © 2017 by William Ruleman.

    By Joseph von Eichendorff

    Du sahst die Fei ihr goldnes Haar sich strählen,
    Wenn morgens früh noch alle Wälder schweigen,
    Gar viele da im Felsgrund sich versteigen,
    Und weiß doch keiner, wen sie wird erwählen.
    Von einer andern Dam´ hört ich erzählen
    Im platten Land, die Bauern rings dir zeigen
    Ihr Schloß, Park, Weiler — alles ist dein eigen,
    Freist du das Weib — wer möcht im Wald sich quälen !
    Sie werden dich auf einen Phaeton heben,
    Das Hochzeitscarmen tönt, es blinkt die Flasche,
    Weitrauschend hinterdrein viel vornehm Wesen.
    Doch streift beim Zug dich aus dem Walde eben
    Der Feie Blick, und brennt dich nicht zu Asche:
    Fahr wohl, bist nimmer ein Poet gewesen!

    By Kelley Jean White

    The bed is a frame we lie in. We lay
    two heads on one pillow, back to back, side
    by side, on this old frame, on which you lied — 
    you went astray before you went away.
    On this bedframe I lay with you and you
    lied with me. Three children were born,
    in love we conceived, and then you grew bored.
    You met her, and before I ever knew

    that you knew her, you took your wedding band
    off, laid her, ring lying on my nightstand.
    You’d lain there shameless, kissing each other
    though you were a father and I mother
    to your well-loved children, children who’d cry
    because the bed framed you telling me lies.

    Copyright © 2017 by Kelley Jean White.

    My Mister’s Eyes
    By Kathryn Hinds

    My mister’s eyes are nothing like the sun,
    and as for lips, his are a brickish red.
    If gods are tanned, he’s far less bronzed than one;
    if hair is silk, it’s shot with silver thread.
    I have grown roses, but beneath his beard
    I see no roses blooming in his cheeks;
    and scented candles are to be preferred
    to breath that sometimes from my mister reeks.
    I love to hear him speak and laugh and sing;
    his sneeze, however, is a dreadful sound.
    I grant I’ve seen Hugh Jackman on the screen;
    my mister’s biceps are not near so toned.
    Yet by the gods, I think my man as fine
    as any hero praised in prose or rhyme.

    Copyright © 2017 by Kathryn Hinds.

    By David Stephenson

    I am not adroit at chitter-chat
    About the weather or somebody’s health.
    It irritates me to be gawked at.
    I feel better when I’m by myself.

    It’s not the people, it’s the noise they bring,
    Their fidgeting, their tiresome little phones,
    And generally their constant yammering.
    There are lots of things to do alone

    Like thinking, which requires peace and quiet
    To take some of the pressure off your brain,
    Not never-ending racket left and right.
    People’s hearts just don’t all beat the same

    And I don’t much like having people near.
    But, anyway, welcome, glad you’re here.

    Copyright © 2017 by David Stephenson.