The Poetry Porch presents

the sonnet scroll xviii

Copyright © 2018 by Joyce Wilson


    By William Ruleman

    Something in it they could not define,
    Though most agreed on what the poet said.
    Still, it was not like other poems they read.
    A subtle essence loomed above each line
    The way a fragrance lingers over wine.
    All this, although the poet was long dead.
    Though some attacked the poem, still, others fed
    Upon the soul eluding its design;
    For it conveyed a thing they could not know
    Through thought alone, though ample thought was there.
    They loved its grace, though they could not say why
    Or how an endless fountain seemed to flow
    From it, a gushing spring as soft as air
    They could not grasp and that would never die.

    Copyright © 2018 by William Ruleman.


    By William Ruleman

    I met you gliding down the grocery aisle.
    Your strident stride was self-assured and bold;
    Your flesh flashed with the sheen of burnished gold;
    Your doe’s eyes glowed, as did your knowing smile.

    You seemed a goddess come to earth a while,
    Yet though you beamed at me, your rays seemed cold,
    Reminding me once more that I am old
    And ought to fade away with grace and style
    And hopes that you will make a noble wife
    And not bewitch sad losers with your looks
    Or draw dark demons who will damage you,  

    I say with longing I must needs subdue
    Before I slip home to my dusty books
    And wistful musings on another life.

    Copyright © 2018 by William Ruleman.

    By Alfons Petzold, trans. by William Ruleman

    The hunger of this earth is not for those
    Who feel no burning thirst in their worn-out blood.
    One thing alone resides in them: the pose
    Of gratitude for a never-gotten good.

    They bear in silence all life’s hardest scenes.
    They scarcely sense the splendor of ascent.
    They find no bliss but in the herd’s routines,
    Wherein their humble end will rest content.

    A horse’s gait has more humanity,
    And so with every other living thing
    Whose brain still feels life’s cry and longing ring. 

    The urge to feed the soul’s sublimity,
    The rage to create, with ever surging stride,
    Are not the nature of the satisfied.

    Copyright © 2018 by William Ruleman.

    By Alfons Petzold

    Sie fühlen nicht den Hunger dieser Erde,
    es brennt kein Durst in ihrem matten Blut;
    in ihnen lebt nur eines: die Gebärde
    des Dankes für ein nie empfangnes Gut.

    Sie tragen schweigsam jede Art Beschwerde,
    sie wissen nichts von des Empörens Glut
    und sind nur glücklich in dem Trott der Herde,
    in der das demutsvolle Ende ruht.

    Es ist mehr Menschlichkeit im Gang der Pferde
    und aller anderen Tiere in der Welt,
    in deren Hirn des Lebens Aufschrei gellt.

    Der das Erhabene im Wesen nährte
    und vorwärts stieß: der Zorn der Kreatur,
    den Selbstzufried’nen ist er nie Natur.

    By Georg Heym; trans. by William Ruleman

    We lay in the garden. Round the cistern grazed
    The mules. And, to the mandolins’ tune, a song
    Now rang out: sweet and rich and full and long.
    Against the tavern panes, a taper blazed.

    Pan’s echo, off in the forest, was like the sigh
    Of a lute. And when the glasses clinked all round,
    The mandolins’ strings hummed with a quivering sound.
    The giant stars of Italy scored the sky.
    All through the night, church bells began to chime.
    An aging priest came with his acolyte.
    A waiting house received the sacrament.

    And while the rest watched, mild and reverent,
    I saw the Colosseum’s splendid might
    Rise from the stand of elms: lone, dark, sublime.

    Copyright © 2018 by William Ruleman.

    By Georg Heym

    Im Garten lagen wir. Um die Zisterne
    Grasten die Mäuler. Und Gesang erscholl
    Zum Klang der Mandolinen süß und voll.
    Ein Lichtstumpf stand im Fenster der Taberne.

    Pans leisem Echo gleich in waldger Ferne
    Ein Lautenspiel. Und wenn die Gläser klangen
    Der Mandolinen Saiten zitternd schwangen.
    Am Himmel glänzten groß Italiens Sterne.

    Ein Klang von Schellen weckte auf die Nacht.
    Ein alter Priester kam mit seinem Knaben.
    Das Sakrament ward in ein Haus gebracht.

    Indes die andern ihm die Ehre gaben,
    Sah ich des schwarzen Kolosseums Pracht
    Im Tor der Ulmen einsam und erhaben.

    Wringing the Songs
    By Valerie Lester

    Often when you, my Music, music play,
    I find myself drawn in with your sweet breath
    into the song. The soft notes float. I sway,
    I sink, I swoon. I die the little death.
    Oh, how I envy your trombone its mouth-
    piece with your embouchure pressed tight upon
    its curve. Oh, how I long for kisses, how
    I yearn to purse my lips and join your song.
    And how I envy your trombone its slide
    with its ability to swell the low
    notes of the soul, the middle, and the high,
    swinging so slow, so fast, so sweet, so so . . .
             But most I envy your trombone its bell,
            wringing from you the songs I love so well.

    Copyright © 2018 by Valerie Lester.

    By Richard Dey

    Down Horseneck Road the hay,
    in its rolled bales, had been picked up,
    its lusty sweet scent gone, dried-up,
    and I drove on to see the bay,
    and in the bay air Cuttyhunk,
    highest of the island chain
    whose pastoral links I once had known
    in boats, its fogs & coves & wrecks.

    Cuttyhunk across the bay, in haze,
    is like so much now out of reach — 
    women by whom I still am crazed,
    buried men who were best friends,
    voyages, their beginnings & ends — 
    while overhead the seagulls screech.

    Copyright © 2018 by Richard Dey.

    At the WoodenBoat Show
    By Richard Dey

    In the shade of a Buzzards Bay 15,
    a Herreshoff on a trailer for display,
    beside the sloop’s keel, beneath her overhang,
    I was watching the boats off Mystic Seaport,
    not least a cat boat in the Sou’west breeze,
    tacking up the basin toward the drawbridge,
    then running downwind, down where sea scouts sang.
    What a time its crew was having! What sport!

    In my power wheelchair, out of the sun,
    feeling the breeze, pretending to trim the main,
    I was working out some things in my mind,
    debating points for reconciliation,
    when Docent Joan, exclaiming the day, asked
    “And how are you?” “Oh, I can’t complain.”

    Copyright © 2018 by Richard Dey.

    Fool Speaks
    By Terese Coe

    On Avenue B we sheltered from the rain.
    The all-night drums beat out a cryptic riddle
    in word-like waves, a bodega paradiddle:
    Where do you hang the remnants of the pain?

    On your hang-ups
    , someone says. It’s glib, a quibble,
    chill but slick; not half enough arcane
    to plumb the metaphysics of disdain.
    The Fool says Wait — don’t ask the simple sibyl.
    The Fool says Hang them on a snaggletooth,
    your heartache or a hair. A pretty noose.
    Suspend them from the antlers of a moose
    in perpetuity — or from the truth.
    Hang them on their tribal diatribes.
    We’re only beasts with complicated lives.

    Copyright © 2018 by Terese Coe.

    By Bruce Bennett

    Bright world unfaded, shining as before,
    long long ago, when we were bright and young,
    called back, we view ourselves again among
    loved others, strong and confident and sure
    that nothing changes, though we knew it does,
    and did, and will. No matter. We are there,
    exultant, in a present time that was,
    reborn, renewed, with joy that we can share
    just for this moment. Then, the show is done.
    The lights are switched back on, and we are here,
    we few remaining. Still, the past is clear
    a few last moments. Then, they too are gone.
    We’re left with what we are, while what we were
    fades back into that distant, timeless blur.

    Copyright © 2018 by Bruce Bennett.

    By Bruce Bennett

    I see the world the way my mother did,
    a viewpoint oddly hopeful and naïve,
    as fresh in ways as if I were a kid,
    except there’s much that I do not believe.
    I don’t believe in God (at least, I guess
    I don’t), although I do believe in Good.
    Like her, I don’t have that much to confess,
    though there is stuff I’m guilty of and should.
    It’s more, though, of a special way of seeing:
    of wanting to take others at their word;
    of wanting to find joy in simply being,
    no matter how that seems at times absurd.
    That buoyed us both, and — mostly — got us through.      
    Our darkness, Dad. That’s what we got from you.

    Copyright © 2018 by Bruce Bennett.