a sonnet on vicissitude

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no summer cloud has ever seemed so soft;
no bright blue day has ever been so fine —
no other thing that’s flown or held aloft
has ever been so fleeting in design.

and passion flows from me to who-knows-where;
your whims might take you anywhere at all —
and leave my soft’ning thoughts out on the air
to realize my place, and then to fall.

for such is your capriciousness to me:
i study it, but know it less and less —
your liberty is its own probity,
and past my feeble ken, i must confess.

but all that flies away in rhapsody
those times you open up yourself to me.

he reaches for the edge

he wants to build, but often he just wastes
the hours and the minutes of his day;
to give full range to ideas and to tastes,
and, striving for expression, find a way

to bring to life and light another piece
that helps the fevered mind to make some sense
of all the purchases we really lease,
and all the pride we take in diffidence.

but see: the sun is setting in its course,
the rippled songs of waves are on repeat;
we try to break away, but share a source
that shifts our victories into defeat.

he reaches for the edge of this lost day,
but like the clouds, it all just moves away

An Empty House

Way back, when love was just an empty house,
The view was good and looked out on the sea,
And there, ostensibly, were you and me,
Each one supposed to be the other’s spouse.

Each morning came in course, the sun would rise,
And we would go about the things that made
Our days and hours go; the bills got paid,
And, sometimes, laughter rang beneath blue skies.

Our empty house did have its beauty, truth,
And felt quite open – breezy – in the main,
Until the first dark coming of the rain
That let us know we didn’t have a roof.

    It’s everywhere the same, in all its forms:
    Real love will give us shelter when it storms

No Sunset

So, what is real? It’s not these memories:
The halt, spasmodic assays of my past
Are pictures now, hung up in galleries,
Some early chapters, neither best nor last.

For love is not a happening. It is
A work of many choices, many deeds;
It is the touch that bears us through our grief,
The careful stitches to the heart that bleeds.

And you — you are the realest whom I’ve known:
A gentleness someway both fierce and strong,
And as the years have gone — and some have flown —
Love stronger grows the more that it grows long.

    There is no sunset I would rather see
    Than any with you still here next to me

Beneath the Surface

It felt so good to be beneath the surface,
To see the summer rays break overhead,
To turn and twist, like otters in our freedom,
No thoughts, no left-behind, no what’s-ahead —

And sometimes we would see the ones who lived there,
Those creatures of the bayou, or the sea,
Who wandered in and out of us young swimmers,
And marveled at our strange inconstancy

For we would swim, but then would take to walking;
And go above the surface, to the light,
Where movement is too easy, and too shallow,
And where it’s much too warm and far too bright.

    Back home, beneath the surface, we would come,
    A world more like the one we all come from.

Sonnet 39: In Which She Is Chasing Something

A dream need not be fearsome.

A dream need not be fearsome, she has found,
But yet be odd and hard to understand;
She runs on, over unfamiliar ground,
Across a strange and foreign stretch of land

The trees are clumped in moving sorts of groves
With leaves of gossamer and mercury;
They point her towards her quarry as it moves,
A sort of arboreal courtesy

But she cannot make out with clarity
Just what it is she chases all the while;
But yet, she runs on, with celerity,
Across one lonely mile after mile

She doesn’t know what has been put to flight
Although she has this dream most every night

A Sonnet on Indolence

Morality – it’s what’s for dinner.

When one does nothing, one does nothing wrong.
Hence I (most ethically) am indolent;
I keep my moral code and keep it strong.
All you upbraiders are just insolent
And brash defamers, shoveling your dirt.
“First, do no harm,” is yet the doctor’s rule:
So here, I nothing do, and no one hurt;
When one is silent, one says nothing cruel.

To call me “shiftless”, “lazy” – it’s all much:
To say I ought to work and earn my way.
They say I’m feckless, but they’re out of touch
To sacrifice morality for pay.
I dedicate my life to what is right,
Unfairly tagged as antisocial blight