The Beach: A Sonnet

The rolling sea did call to me so sweet
Where crashing surf meets yielding sand, two worlds
Colliding, foes locked in combative feats,
The sea, the stronger, strikes the land all furled.

The shore, deceptive refuge from sea’s ire,
Does grant a place to view Neptune’s domain,
The deep that beckons to the soul’s great fire,
A watery grave where silence does reign.

Enter the surf and taste primaeval fear
Between two clashing giants, sea and sand.
The savage surf did roll and cast me here.
Upon the shore again I take my stand.

I left the beach then for I hate the weather.
I have sand in my shorts that chafes my nethers.

This poem was written as part of the monthly Symposium at the Soaring Twenties Social Club (https://soaringtwenties.substack.com/). The topic for the October issue is “The Beach”.

Out of the Fog (audio)

I was reminded recently, by what, I couldn’t say, of something that I knew in the past, namely that reading poetry silently in one’s head is like experiencing a song by reading sheet music and lyrics. It’s missing a crucial component. So here’s a bit of an experiment that I hope to replicate going forward with me doing my best to just read the poem based on its sense and meter while not gilding the lily with any theatrics.


Out of the fog that blankets morning cold,
A land of grass in mist enveloped whole,
A sea of cloud traversed by tree-top sails,
A figure lies so dark, disturbed yet still.
Its hooves splayed out, the deer’s slender neck bends
Unnaturally, horns touching its back.
Its lifeless eyes keep silent watch unblinking,
A canvas filled with one’s own self-censure and
Reproach as if one’s failed salvation is
Akin to striking death’s most fatal blow.

Out of the Fog

Out of the fog that blankets morning cold,
A land of grass in mist enveloped whole, 
A sea of cloud traversed by tree-top sails,
A figure lies so dark, disturbed yet still.
Its hooves splayed out, the deer’s slender neck bends
Unnaturally, horns touching its back.
Its lifeless eyes keep silent watch unblinking,
A canvas filled with one’s own self-censure and
Reproach as if one’s failed salvation is
Akin to striking death’s most fatal blow.

Infinite

I travel ways among the blackened stars,
Galactic deserts are as home to me,
A restless trav’ler wand’ring all unscathed
By novae. I am incandescent fire
And flying faster through the vacuum cold
I burn up nebulae to feed on plasma.
Stars shift course, fearing resolute advance.
Born in a crucible of gas and heat,
Timeless I neither end nor age nor die,
Somewhere an end in space but not in time.
What am I? You will not see me but you
Will know my presence, light and heat and flame. 

Sonnet 3

She came to me in restful sleep, a dark
Crowned maiden, softly treading star-lit trails
All clothed in silver samite without mark,
And umber eyes did flash in form so pale.

My voice was choked, an arid-bedded flow.
Uncertain mind perplexed by scene inverse,
To see th’ impossible but not to know
That dreamer’s blessing is the dreamer’s curse.

Said I, “Who are you, maiden fair, and whence
Came you? Your name? For I know you, though I
remember not.” “Why ask what you can sense?”
She laughed, “Come see, for this is not good-bye.”

At her command I woke at last to see.
I found that which I sought and it was she.

The Carver

The carver’s father was a carver and
From him he learned his trade spending his youth
In careful constant study of the craft.
And when his mother died his father carved
Her likeness, delicate, precise in beech,
His last creation, for the father followed
Succumbed at last, the same cruel plague beset
His aged body. So the son then carved
His sire in solid oak to stand beside
His mother, ever watchful household guards.
Soon after he did marry and was not
Unhappy for a time. But their first child
Was born as still as night before the dawn
And so he carved another figure far
Before its time, one he had hoped not ever
To carve. The tiny babe thus joined his dear
Departed ancestors. The years did pass.
Two more had died as infants, illness sent
Them down below. A son, so hale and hardy,
Both Sleep and Death in war did seize one day.
The next their daughter; childbirth sealed her fate.
Beech, oak, ash, walnut, alder, elm, and birch.
Thus seven stood together, constant needless
Reminders of the certain toll of life
In condign payment for Death’s temp’ral loan.
The carver and his wife did know each other’s
Pain, and so well, unspoken it remained.
Each was the other’s tether, tying each
To life. The wife was stronger and endured
But in the dark of night the figures seemed
To call to him and promise peace at last.
But when she died, he carved her true to life
For forty days and night rememb’ring their
Now forty years together. He would work
Now frantic, sending shavings like fall leaves
Upon the floor, now still and cutting not
But merely looking for his wife within
The wood. The day of labor’s final blow,
Marauding soldiers, hair in mats, eyes sunk,
Did drag the carver from his hovel and
Demand due payment for his life. Said he:
“I have no coin nor wealth, nothing to give
And not one thing save for my trade
And home.” And so his house they burned in sport
And broke his hand. The carver sat there mute
As greedy flames consumed the final piece
Of house and home. There ev’ry moment sweet
And bitter. Grim but smiling he did draw
To him his mother, father, children, wife
In one final embrace, and purged the hope
Of seeing them again here or hereafter.
He carved a figure crude and bent with age
And cares and, placed upon the smold’ring pile,
He walked away into the forest deep.

The Nest

The girl did look so wistful at the nest,
Still dead and bare among new leaves and green,
And hoped that soon some bird would come to rest,
A home to make where tender chicks might preen.
Eschewing old for new a robin came
Bearing mere bits of grass and twig and cord
And jumbled them together as a frame
Til warp and weft at last came to accord.
The girl the bird then watched so steadfast, still,
As days did pass to bring two eggs so blue.
On silent watch never the bird did trill,
To keep a vigil and guard life so new.
Now she is gone; the nest empty save hoar.
She spreads her wings and hopes not, evermore.

Time

O Time, the constant drumbeat, seconds, hours,
Despised abandoner, slipping away,
Who takes from us all, wastes and devours,
Eater of worlds and men, of that which may
Be, was, and is, who brings companion Death,
The end of Nature’s course. But why so hated
And feared, O Time? Alone with bated breath
They wait, the fearful, static, ever fated
To die while watching sands run. But a friend
To all dynamic, active, drinking deep
The good that Time does bring and not pretend
To have or want eternity to reap.
Eternity degrades life, Death inspires.
Only abandoned is he that Time fires.

The Farmer’s War

When Winter has released the earth at last,
Her frigid grasp undone and strength now past,
And winds do change and call the flagging Sun
To warm the soil, then may your oxen run
And strain beneath the yoke that guides the plow’s
Sharp keel, to churn the ground beneath the boughs
Of spreading elm and beech. Seek not their shade
To rest and play the shepherd’s pipes, no aid
To farmer’s work. So churn the ground and break
The yielding clods of earth, now tamed, to make
A home for Spring among the scattered seeds.
For there is little that is for man’s needs
By Nature made, spontaneous, unbidden.
Thus, lest we want and starve, the power hidden
Must every farmer’s hard labor release
In constant war, a battle without peace.
Beware when revanchist Winter returns,
As snow now falls and deadly frost then burns,
To snuff the newly scattered seed of life
And choke the land with one last snow, a knife
Held to its throat. But Spring she meets on high
And goddess Spring, shield girt, sword drawn, asks ‘Why?’
To which says Winter, ‘Naught else can I do.’
And battle joined deadly Spring runs her through.
As white-robed Winter falls, stained by the blow,
The farmers watch, transfixed by the tableau
Of heaven’s strife, and bow to fate’s demand
Ever to shape, to till, to work Spring’s land.

Katabasis

Down, down the deep hole,
Down the burning wrath,
Down the dispersing soul,
Down the mind’s dark path.

Down to the depths of the sea,
Down the executioner’s axe,
Down the towering tree,
Down to pay death’s tax.

Down the ancient throne,
Down to the sunless gloom,
Down the crumbling bone,
Down to meet your doom.

Up, up, Orpheus, along the track,
Up, Orpheus, and don’t look back.

Up the wandering way,
Up the kingdom high,
Up to the light of day,
Up to the dawning sky.

Up to life’s domain,
Up the soul’s power,
Up to the green plain,
Up to rebuild the fallen tower.

Up to time’s lease,
Up to the fair glen,
Up to strife and peace,
Up to live again.