The Bow Resounds

The bow resounds and hums, hairs strain but hold,
Lets fly the arrow of its song, a hymn
To days gone by, when we were not so old
And so afraid, when all was at a whim
And still before us, nothing yet behind.
The fingers aged but firm the rhythm dance
On strings the bow then whirls grasping to find
The melody of years long past in mindful trance.
There is no solace where all’s done and gone.
Let fly the arrow from the heart of wood
And soar upon the swirling winds of song.
The wood never forgets where once it stood
Upon sunlight dappled hills, split by the maul
Now groans, the bow now snaps, the fingers fall.

meter: iambic pentameter
form: Shakespearean sonnet


Now spurn the frailties of the human soul,
The grasping weakness, fear of light and living.
Now guide my feet from darkness. Mark the path
And send me off to open eagle’s wings
And find another Avalon beyond
Our shores and time, where sleeping kings do wait.
I do not doubt, but still carry on unwavering.
Hungry, I fast. Though tired, I keep vigil.
The path aethereal extends before me.
Now, at the end, do I still dare take it?

meter: iambic pentameter
form: none

Write Something

Just write some words and put them down the page.
The page is all a stage, like life, so be
A writer and become the page stage sage
Like Dr. Seuss and write some poetry.
Be clever, funny, be original
Whatever that may mean. Be serious,
Be flippant, but not unoriginal,
And not all at once—deleterious.
Talk to yourself or talk to your audience,
Write something, anything, for no one at all.
Try to find words that rhyme with audience.
Don’t force a rhyme when it’s no good. Meatball.
Well, that’s that. What d’you think Shakespeare would say?
Don’t know. Hope I don’t see The Bard today.

meter: iambic pentameter-ish
form: a terrible Shakespearean sonnet

Seasons of Now

Autumn frozen by Winter thawed by Spring burnt by Summer

The seasons, plodding, dull, year after year
So slow, too slow for our modernity,
The ancient earth-bound measure of man’s sphere,
Time, time repeating for eternity. 

Summer harvested by Autumn frozen by Winter thawed by Spring

The peasant’s clock, too poor for gears of Progress
But good enough for the poor poet’s pen.
And Progress moves yet faster, fragile process
Dependent on vigilant farmer’s ken.

Spring burnt by Summer harvested by Autumn frozen by Winter

What are the seasons to so many now?
The arbiter of weather: tiresome rain
Of life, the heat that raises wheat from plough’s
Work, and cruel cold that freezes pest of grain.

Winter thawed by Spring burnt by Summer harvested by Autumn

So mark your destination in the sky
But keep your hands in earth to work so deep
Lest you then starve along the way and cry
At what impatient haste of time did reap.

Autumn frozen by Winter thawed by Spring burnt by Summer

meter: iambic pentameter
form: something I made up

Winter’s Return

Now is her time to take what once was hers.
Now let revanchist Winter reign and claim
The land made gold by Autumn’s granted gift.
Fair Autumn, golden hair a match for robes
Ripe as the yellow wreath of grain upon
Her head. Her arms are full of ev’ry fruit,
The bounty of the farmer’s labor long.
Now clothed in white disguising golden form
Autumn bows, bent by frost and deadly rime.
And Winter cold, not cruel, her chin uplifts
And smiles: ‘Your time is over sister dear.
Struggle no more. Fear not this change for time’s
Well-trodden path will turn your way again.’
Then Autumn stumbles, falls, and spills the fruits
Of harvest from her arms, so parched and burned
And soon buried beneath the snow and ice.
Winter triumphant stands in raiment white
As earth rises to greet her frigid reign. 

meter: iambic pentameter
form: none

Not Playing Possum

Not quite satisfied with the first version of this, I adapted it to create a rhyme scheme for version 2.

Version 1
A bloody scene all scattered wide, first cold
Then warming in the burning sun. But not
To last, the multitude of worms work quickly.
The possum’s face a lifeless rictus grin,
Eyes open staring fixed and blind in death.
Do not avert your gaze but listen well
For if you give attention, he will speak:
‘You are ever becoming what I am.’

Version 2
A bloody scene all scattered wide, first cold
Then warming in the burning sun, begins
To waste. The multitude of worms fill the mold.
The possum’s face a lifeless rictus grin,
Eyes open staring fixed, a look so fey.
Do not avert your gaze but listen well
For if you give attention, he will say:
‘You too are blood within a brittle shell.’

meter: iambic pentameter
form: Version 1 – blank verse, Version 2 – ABABCDCD

The Sailor’s Lot

The sailor harnesses the wayward winds
To strike out to the deep and catch the West.
A tiresome life of shifts, the sailor’s test,
The wooden world does tie the men as kin.

A world apart, the service and its duty.
The daily scrubbing with the holy stone,
Alert to quarter deck’s call, then up wind-blown
Rigging to set tops’ls all in their beauty.

The ship’s routine, a perfect dance performed,
They run to Neptune’s realm through foam and spray    10
That spatters hawse and bow to seize the trades,
And day by day both sea and wind are warmed.

But fickle wind then fails. Stalled in dead sea,
The doldrums seize the ship. Days wax and wane.
While sun bleaches the sails all set in vain,
Capricious wind ignores the sailor’s plea.

At last the earth exhales its sweet, sweet breath
And grasping royals now begin to fill,
Then speeding toward the Cape, the captain’s will.
South, south away, away from mortal death.            20

Back, back homeward, routine again they sweat.
Decks holystoned, hammocks piped up. At noon
Position made, all hands to dinner soon.
Drummed orders, hammocks down, the watch is set.

A sail on dawn’s horizon. The command
Is ‘Beat to quarters’. Gun crews clear the decks
For action, lest the bulkheads, hammocks vex
The crews, their guns run out, slow match at hand.

And now the men alow are at the ready.
Aloft they tack into the wind to cross                30
The prize’s path. But their hope turns to dross,
The friendly signals shown, its course keeps steady.

The trades are strong. Wind on the beam they race
Toward home. But, sailor’s dread, a gale now drives
The ship headlong. It drifts to lee, no grace
Grants the high cliff. The men yet strive
But she founders. All hands gone with no trace
Down to the bitter depths, a deadly dive.
The sailor’s labor, sweat, and toil erased,
No mem’ry of the sailor now survives.            40

meter: iambic pentameter
form: expanded Petrarchan sonnet with varied rhyme scheme

Sun and Cloud

It rained and rained so black in midst of day
Relentless life falling from heaven high,
Th’imagined battle, cloud and sun, that he,
Hyperion, might shine and see at last
Your glory in the full splendor of dawn
And you adorned in sun’s full raiment bright.
But clouds, bulwark of Zeus, do guard so jealous,
Sequester with lightning and thunder that
Which he does wrongly think belongs to him.
The sun does persevere, prevails without
A fight when clouds pass, as they must at last,
Fighting in vain against the wind’s sure tide.
And now Hyperion has his brief moment
To see you and adore you now before
The clouds return, as surely they must do.
But you can laugh at their prepost’rous game,
And laughing conquer would-be conquerors.

A Poem for You, Part 2

“Hello dear, I wrote you a poem.”
“Is this one actually for me or is it another passive-aggressive revenge composition?”
“No, Mabel, it’s actually for you.”
“Go ahead then, Gerald.”

Along the alabaster arc of joy,
Stretching beyond the mind’s membranous skeins,
The heart cavils at dull, dull persiflage.
Time’s bright shadow lengthens now.
A moment, grant just one. That is enough.

(aside) “That is enough.”
“What, dear?”
“Nothing, nothing.”
“Do you like it? It’s iambic pentameter, like Shakespeare.”
“Is it? I couldn’t tell. Don’t let Shakespeare know you’re comparing yourself to him.”
“That hurts, Mabel. I am trying.”
“What does it mean?”
“What does it mean? Ah, well, that’s for the reader to determine.”
“I see. So it doesn’t mean anything.”
“No, it does. Would it help to hear it again?”
“No! No, no; wouldn’t want to spoil my first impression. Just give it to me.”
“Do you like it though?”
“Oh yes, I love it. I thank God every day for your poetry. In fact it’s exactly what I was hoping you’d bring me. I need some kindling for the fire.”

The Shadow of the Sun

Come, take my hand and run with me to find
A place unknown, and hand in hand we’ll cross
Through skies so clear and bright, wide seas and deep,
Running against both time and fate to where
The mist lies deep in valleys and the high
Mount calls, where deep things wait in places
We forgot. We ride to battle, drums and horns,
Clarion call to glory, but we laugh
And dance and sing, escaping thund’rous din
To wander moonlit shores and drive our ship
Into the blazing shadow of the sun.