Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sonnet #116

When the first fruits come on our perennial trees

The ones we planted years ago, watered, fed,
The ones we researched, cultivated, as well-bred,
When the first fruits come, there's only three
We see them green upon the branches, small
One will be thinned, so that one is gone
It will make the other two larger when done
Two will be eaten by the caterpillars and fall
A rotten mess upon the root, too late we saw
Too late to save. The third and final we absolve
of all sins, pour hope upon the roots and draw
the birds away with seed across the yard, revolve
around her daily, observe the color, feel the weight
We'll pick her unripe, overeager, and curse this fate

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sonnet #115

Imagine if we could reset to a point in life

We could go back and try again to build
the future we desire before we die, keep the wife
we lost, try the careers we wanted, climb new hills
then go back again. I think at first we'd see
The opportunity as a selfish one, a reset
To redo the places where we could not be
what we wanted, eventually we'd get it:
Which children from which line get to exist?
Which people did we help, and who's love burned?
And when we reset whose kiss will be the last kiss?
Eventually, we'd see the reset as a violence, a cosmic spurn
We could go back and climb again with younger bones
but the world we love can't stand on faithless stones

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sonnet #114

I live in a Hispanic district in a blue city
in a traditionally red state. Early voting
began today. 93 degrees, everyone sweaty
Lines long, long, volunteers doting
on the mysterious absence of enough
check-in computers, all these empty machines
not enough computers. It was rough,
but nothing, really, just a long hot line
Like an amusement park roller-coaster,
No guns, no dogs, no hucksters shouting rhymes
Just everyone politely complaining together
(Which is the Great American Pastime)
The revolution has come, we're fighting the power
Stick a thumb in the pain, just by standing some hours

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sonnet #113

What has three hands, a face, and a pulse
And power over lives as if a God, but nothing
resembling a heart, nothing resembling
A soul, a sense of decency, a power that's false?

What never looks back, never feels bad
for what has happened before, just pushing
onward, always pushing, forgetting
all that came before, never happy, never sad?

Study it all you like and see what comes of it
The mystery lies in how we fail to mend
The truth of ourselves into a single daylight
To balance what we really need against the end
The clockwork lie that we must push and fight
Against the ticking, ticking; Just accept, ascend.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Sonnet #112

I guess I should write a poem, now
I have a moment in between chores
All morning, I was in the garden, mow
the lawn and prune back, mop the floor
There were dishes, bathrooms, dirty clothes
All the things that let us know we are alive
Is found in the mess we leave in piles and rows
Trailed like breadcrumbs in our wake, we strive
To keep the mess picked up, we make lists and throw
ourselves upon the list, we never quite arrive
At perfection, always one more thing, sisyphian stones
Built up and up we climb, and exhausted, write a poem

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sonnet #111

Experts will say he only portrays a third
of what the party wants and needs, the racist ones
the true believers in crazy theories. How come
we have to not throw out the appeasing two-thirds
over what one third stands and negotiates and delivers?
At what percentage point of racist, sexist madness
do we call those who appease a tribe of badness?
To negotiate with madmen, racists, true believers
in the wickedness of science, in race wars
A third of them still demand segregation,
A third demand to be appeased with Christianity
as an official state religion, the meanest version
where gay kids kill themselves. What sanity
is this? If a third of the club cast such aspersions?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Sonnet #110

There's just one book, apparently, we need

The only one to read and study, about humanity
It's a good book, and I enjoy it, when I read
this book, I feel connected to some kind of infinity
But, the connection I feel is just as strong
When I stand in a forest and hear the birds
The crickets and rustling leaves, a peace song
played with the gentlest breath of cosmic words
That construct galaxies, fortify the stars, black holes,
And blow a little breeze through autumn leaves
There's other books I know where I feel the souls
All those histories and mysteries burning and free
So, there is just one book, for some of us to read
But don't pretend to me it's the only one I need

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sonnet #109

Sometimes in the woods, while walking, I picture

Life the way it was a few days back, just a few
When naked, born into the woods, one with nature
Our weak hands, weak legs, we had to make do
No schools and grocery stores, no job but fill
Whatever doesn't make us sick, we eat
Whatever we can reach and snatch we kill
And everything feels the same to us, all meat
All trees and spiny thorns out there, all struggle
in the dark to live, imagine what it took to build
a single piece of land into an orchard, learn to juggle
all the different seasons so we never starve, our guilds
preserving all we know so others will not suffer
We are specialized creatures, now, communities that buffer

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sonnet #108

Make sacrifices to the spirit, if you like
But, the body will demand a sacrifice
And claim the sacrifice, and when it strikes
It will be sudden, another day, then twice
a thing is lost, three times, all in an explosion
Getting older means watching what we think
what is our self is stripped away like an erosion
and sudden sacrifices come, big and small, we sink
Below the tides of what is truly us, what never leaves
Fight it if you wish, shout at doctors, weep and howl
There is no way to bring back the dead, the free
Will never fly home, the bones don't heal proud,
We are bent, and all our great plans are taken away
Our loved ones, our vanities, all sacrificed to stay

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sonnet #107

I planted seeds of Jujube, I kept exactly one

I grew her in a pot a while, The spiny spires rose
It demanded little care, just placement in the sun
When she became too big, I chopped down dead cenizos
She's in a desert spot, rarely watered, never fed
I merely mulch the base of her and pray for rain
Which rarely comes. By all rights she should be dead
A foreign, spindly trunk, a tough thorny palm of pain
Of beautiful yellow flowers twice a season for the bees
Of grape-sized little dumplings green, at first
Tart and sweet, when ripened into a deep mahogany
No named cultivar, just a wild seedling, worst
of all the fruits to grow, but tenacious and strong
I pluck the drying fruits for tea and sing a grateful song.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sonnet #106

The storytellers are to blame for all
The failures in this world of pain and shame
For politicians only do the voters' calls
And justice is defined by tribal lines that name
Responsibilities of the heroic one, how heroes must
Defeat the wicked sinfulness of this trajectory
of life unto death. Fiction is a sinful trust
For conflict and sin are children of a territory
Also shared by myths and fear of death
And shame and guilt and voyeuristic gossip --
Is it any wonder there is injustice in this place
When every story's hero must embrace the tip
of misery to become a great soul, we need to face
the demons, then, to be interesting, all our stories
Must include them, all our best imagined histories

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Sonnet #105

Lay the burdens down upon the grass

Where ants may pick upon them from below
And eventually the rain will unmask
The wilted pieces of the load away from stones
Bury stones of burden without memorials
Except the scrape where dirt was pulled away
Eventually the weeds will get territorial
And leave no other marker on the grave
These burdens, now, the stones of them
Will sink through soil in time to join with lime
The weight and press of all the stones, the hem
of crust at edges of the rock, the lines of time
Will merge with all the burdens buried by us all
And we will wake from up the grass, renewed, full.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Sonnet #104

I'm pro-life, but I'm serious when I say that

I want to end the death penalty, end all war
I want to embrace all refugees, suffering so that
A man in a castle can be fat with power;
I want to end the drilling, end strip mining
I want to recycle, preserve the wild places
Against encroachment, No more polluting
No more decaying plastics, Intelligent races
Never live in fear of the knife and hook
Even the mindmute suffer nothing industrial
And the universe is to be explored, look up! Look!
We should be spreading life to the extra-terrestrial!
I don't think the label works with choice and women
Best make a system that's pro-life, not punish one sin.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sonnet #103

Try to imagine the very first square,
I mean the perfect one that could build
A perfect room, a set of cabinets, a chair
Who is the man who brought this out of skill
alone? To build with a hand a perfect tool
Is the beginning of building a human world
We are not the only creatures that use tools
We are the only ones who use tools to build
more tools, that we use again to build tools
And all of them began with a skilled hand
A perfect eye, a narrow piece of stone true
on each side in neat, careful clips, a man
Holding up what he imagined, thinking more
of tools, of futures, of building houses and cellars