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Sixteen Sonnets: January/February

cath-Flower_face                                                   (“Flower Icon” artwork by Catherine Armbrust)



None love with greater passion than I love—
not Shakespeare nor Ovid, nor Solomon
with his sacred song. Those in fear may shove
love aside. I choose open devotion,
arms spread wide, focused for flight to new heights
one cannot reach alone. How does your eye’s
iris take me there, its unfolding light
and color commanding me, causing rise
in my every cell? How does your exact
phrase alter my heartbeat, your smile guide me
to flow to and with you? What is this fact
of one soul sharing two frames if not we
two clothed in night’s silence, our breath assuring
spirit’s blessing—whispers of love enduring?

January 2, 2015



“I haven’t been writing,” she said, her eyes
flashing like sunlight off flowing river
at reality of rushing time. I
offered to talk, sip coffee, deliver
to her my mentor’s gift of connecting
particles of universe, crafting them
into diamond phrases for selecting
and clasping close to heart: life’s stratagem
for foiling fickle memory. He knew
I couldn’t grasp it then, but soon would see.
I know this about her—how she pursues
each phrase from my lips; how laser eyes trace
each word’s history with subconscious grace.

January 8, 2015



I offer this only to you, clear view
of vulnerability’s abyss—so
deep into my psyche one becomes two.
It’s here I wait for you. It’s here I glow
from your every idea, translated
through each motion and mood—closed eyes focused
on all senses, deep breathing related
to faith. I marvel at how your eyes fuse
me to you. I listen to your poem’s
each phrase, follow each image unfolding
through space. I look forward to candle’s dim
light gracing our gaze, shadows enfolding
us into night. Hearing your secret dreams.
Learning this moment is just what it seems.

January 8, 2015



First your dramatic openings—a wrong
turn, sky sweating, failed attempts, waiting for
his family name—rhythm a stark song
of friction setting the scene. Then valor
of a sudden close—crying softly with
sky as subtle message, or glaring pride
he’s forgotten how to live (fact, not myth)
without you. I imagine how inside
your psyche you welcome clear images—
sudden flickering candle flames, soft gifts
from the Muse. She’s carried them for ages,
awaiting you. As you approach, she lifts
them as offerings, stands and stares a while,
as I often do, at your eyes and smile.

January 12, 2015



Sea once a continent of solid ice,
now a dull web of jagged synapses,
nerve cells spent of energy, dendrites spliced
like decaying claws, gravity’s lapses
their only chance at connection. The bear
balances on a curled dissolving slab,
stained fur now lighter than this foothold where
its once massive frame stalls—thin base a scab
soon to crease, crack and break apart. What shall
we do to save it before the armies
arrive to kill for oil and gas? When all
that’s left is mud and blood? Advise us, please,
when to tell children this horrid story
of earth’s destruction, and how we’re sorry.

January 20, 2015



We who love air offer care by growing
trees, refuse to smoke, burn coal, or drive cars;
deep breathe in prayer and meditate, knowing
spirit’s definition. We love water’s
becoming us, caressing cells, cleansing all;
guard its surface from arson, each poison
an enemy; dance as earth’s mating call
to clouds. We who love food honor seasons
for growing grain and fruit, praise honey bees’
journeys, sing of each herb’s power to heal.
We who love humans pause to listen, ease
pain through gentle touch, make sure we conceal
nothing; learn we survive and understand
through closely watching others’ eyes and hands.

January 24, 2015



She knelt silent in the backyard garden,
her ruddy hand rubbing the ring, its set
of six tiny diamonds meant to glisten
like a halo around the master-cut
ruby center. “We must go! Now!” he called.
She wrapped it in wax paper, dug beneath
the carrots, deep, pushed the packet down, stalled,
then covered it with dirt. She tried to breathe.
Began to cry. Rose and ran to the car.
She didn’t know it then, about Auschwitz.
But she’d return to Prague—body, soul scarred—
the only one left. Suffer endless fits
of night terrors. Press tight the ring. Never
forget its symbol of love forever.

January 29, 2015



Lonely night’s not so lonely when we pray.
Painful void’s not so painful when we pause
and listen, hear our vast night’s power say
we’re loved forever, how each worthy cause
is never lost when we take brave action.
Not martyr brave or warrior brave. Lover
brave: Simple actions. Honest words. Fractions
of seconds when fragile hearts discover
each other surviving sad darkened storm
of lonely night. Discover life’s spirit
in dawn light on water, warming our forms
of flesh and conscious thought. We can fear it
all or surrender to it, or do both,
I suppose. Take what comes and call it growth.

February 4, 2015



At dawn I lift my grateful arms toward sun,
welcome universe, chance to try again.
At dusk, I raise my bruised hands toward oceans,
honor sacred water from which we came,
walk or wander our jagged path toward home—
time to speak to earth and all before all.
By night, I raise my light to your light, come
to you with smile and silent nodding, fall
with your fall, flowing through passion’s shadows.
Our faces mirror moonlight, bodies match
ebb and rise of glowing tides. Heaven knows
us now, how we share its realm. Our eyes catch
and nurture supernovas. We laugh, keep
close galaxies of whispers. Then we sleep.

February 4, 2014



Honest, unconditional love and service:
not your usual relationship and care.
Yet, when led by spirit, what the mind deserves;
when melding life’s passion, all the heart can bear.
What comes when you gaze at the moon? Beethoven?
Taylor Swift’s rocket? Flow of night’s ocean tides?
What aroma when you image an oven?
Your favorite pie? Where does your vision guide?
What feelings do you love to share? Athena,
with her owl-like eyes, protected her cities;
in her wisdom, led heroes through arenas.
What do you protect? Tell me: How are you wise?
Feel free to ask me the same. What do you pray
for through silent nights, or on Valentine’s Day?

February 6, 2015



What can I tell you about self-will? Just
what I’ve experienced: How fear warps my
security, convinces me I must
force fate, react rather than respond. Why
I suffer this dis-ease isn’t the point
really. What is though: Will I surrender
to the Source—this loving, intelligent
energy—essence of the real, tender
me—healing and nurturing my psyche,
banishing terrifying addictions
to lie and self-destruct. We’re told the key
is willingness. I’ve found it’s a gift, one
aligned with honesty, faith, and action:
Steps of action. Caring action. Action.

February 7, 2015



Your cultural significance creates
a difference today; it will moreso
tomorrow. How your every phrase relates
could catch a lie; how you paint all torsos,
accurately gauge an eye’s glare might save
a life. Do you care? To breathe in clear air:
does it matter to you? When humans rave
of equal rights, do you slouch in your chair
or rise and rave, too? As you trot, stall, weave
past each street’s starving bodies, studying
their fading frames, how does your art conceive
earth’s future? Or are you even trying?
As you huddle in bed at night, hearing
those endless screams, what are you whispering?

February 12, 2015



I’m dying here. No response to love. No
muscle flinch to me passionate verse. No
a chance glance to me adoring eye. No
hint of breathless sigh to me love song. No
but frozen curse of silence it seems. No
romantic stroll along flowing streams. No
dancing a waltz to our inner song. No
balcony scene. No stringing along, no
e’en. No night snuggling on sandy beach. No
hearing mermaids singing each to each. No
pity for shot Cupid, nor me deep pain…
Ahh! A shot of faith! Whoa! We rise again!

February 14, 2015



I wish I could watch it with you. I’m such
a romantic. Knew nothing about it
really. But I do understand how much
a man can love a woman—vast duet
of ocean and earth. How art can reveal
our essence beyond our conscious being.
I don’t hear from you now—how your heart feels
in late-night dark when stark loneliness sings;
when the gut longs for faith’s salving silence.
I figure if my heart feels it, yours must
feel it too; must sense psyche’s resilience
when surrendering savage fear to trust.
Shall I enclose this? Toss it in the sea?
Pray it flows to you so you’ll come to me?

February 17, 2015



How could we know, during those penciled days,
such simple offerings from Dick and Jane—
to look and see, come and go, work and play—
would define our lifelong actions, contain
our essence of experience? To feel
our pulsing rhythms in phrases. Sense our
imaginations unfold through words. Kneel
before printed pages’ singing power.
Teachers knew what we didn’t: “See spot run!”
would lead us to ancient Greeks’ “Know thyself.”
To Descarte’s “I think, therefore I am.” Donne’s
“No man is an island”. Power and pelf’s
folly, Scott’s verse would clarify. And, above
all, Shakespeare’s bottom line: “never doubt I love.”

February 24, 2015



Solzhenitsyn, slipping away last-minute
from stark trains and buses, steals through Moscow
to Estonia. Those ice-numb months he sits
alone, writing his “Gulag”. Makes it flow.
She comes once a day to bring him hot food,
glancing to make sure she’s not followed. Talks
as he eats. Smiles when he says, “This is good.”
After an hour, she leaves, thinks as she walks
over frozen chalk earth how they could die
if caught. He stops at three volumes, has their
typed versions microfilmed. Wary of spies,
he smuggles his script’s frames to Paris where
they wait word to publish. In Moscow, his typist
is found hanged. “Now,” he orders. Awaits the tempest.

February 25, 2015


Roger Armbrust

Roger Armbrust's articles and columns have covered labor and management, Congressional legislation, and federal court cases, including appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. He formerly served as national news editor of Back Stage in New York City, where he also taught a professional writing course at New York University. His recent book of sonnets -- oh, touch me there: Love Sonnets -- is available from Amazon and other book sites. He is an associate curator of The Clyde Fitch Report. He is also co-founder and co-curator of reality: a world of views.

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