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Selected Sonnets and a Song: March/May

ES ideal city birkeneau

“Ideal City (Birkenau)” Artwork by Eric Sweet

STIR CRAZY

Been inside too long and away too long,
like held breath housing ancient resentment
or convict in solitary, love song
(he once sang her) sealed in sweaty cement
of dark stained cell walls. It’s what snow can do
to one’s psyche, you know: endless pure white
conniving with sun and shadow to screw
up vision and logic, turn care to spite,
like a seeing-eye Shepherd attacking
its master, or invisible leopard
slashing its shocking claws. Time’s contracting
memory: a punch-drunk fighter who sparred
with a brutal champ. It staggers through streets
lost, bruised, not even knowing it retreats.

March 7, 2015

 

KEEP SOFT INSIDE

Keep soft inside your ever-sacred you.
Consider your 100 trillion cells,
each its own identity, each small room’s
shrine of nucleus and DNA. Tell
yourself bedtime stories of each cell’s life
as each of your lives, how each universe
connects the universe of you. Decides
what music moves you, which great poet’s verse
melds you to its rhythms, its imagery.
Guides you to intimate friends, and perhaps
a mate. Leads each sense to long for the sea.
Cautions you to avoid fear’s hidden traps.
Feel your tongue tip’s touch as you whisper “love”,
fitting the palate like finger in glove.

March 8, 2015

 

“LEGÉNDE”

Wieniawski, seeing how Isabella’s
parents oppose their engagement, decides
to write “Legénde”. Returns to their home. Tells
how he composed this for her. His bow glides
over violin strings in soft, simple
melody, his brother Józeph beside
him at piano. Strings’ intense double
stops startle their small audience, with slides
enhancing sensual mood. Crescendo
builds to passionate climax. Lovemaking
ends on high G. Silent interlude flows
through the room. Outside, sunlight’s forsaking
earth, bringing brilliant blue. By candlelight,
parents bless the ring. Laughter fills the night.

March 10, 2015

 

π

Do you wonder why we celebrate pi?
Why, we wouldn’t have Giza’s Pyramid
without it. Solomon’s temple’s pool lies
in a circle. π? Aye! History’s rid
of “Archimedes’ constant” if the meek
Greek can’t record his great algorithm.
Poet Dante employs pi as he seeks
Paradise through Hell (I know that sounds grim),
some scholars wist. Mostly, you need to know
this: Math geeks proclaim π is infinite
and shows you can’t square circles. (So it goes,
Vonnegut would say.) Now, please don’t feel spite
to learn π’s irrational. Some assure
it’s transcendental. (I say, go figure.)

March 14, 2015

 

CAN LOVE EVER BE INAPPROPRIATE

Can love ever be inappropriate?
Love, which guides every living cell’s motion?
Can trembling fear’s fleeing pace separate
love’s seamless energy and devotion?
Art clearly shows: not in this universe.
Klimt melded oil and gold leaf in “The Kiss”
to make the lovers one. Rodin’s sculptures
uncover lovers from stone. Surely this
pair in Cot’s “Le Printemps” swing to our earth’s
adoring rhythms. Surely Magritte’s lovers
sense passion despite veils. What’s each life worth
without love? Renoir’s charmed couple discovers
more than just their country dance. Lisa knew
Leonardo lived within her portrait too.

March 31, 2015

 

“SPRING SONG”

Sibelius — his title deceptive
as a lover’s first hello — envisioned
surely all our planet’s unfolding lives
at once — each stretching blossom’s precisioned
petal, each new infant’s focusing eye.
Listen. It’s opening meditation
recalls you seated, eyes closed, finding why
breath’s peace reveals each poem’s creation,
each body rhythm recalls our own birth —
expanding universe welcoming us.
Hear his growing crescendo, each string’s worth
to the whole. Come sit with me. Let’s discuss
with our eyes his tone poem’s every sound,
reveal depths of love — our healings and wounds.

April 5, 2015

 

“SUNDAY MORNING PONTORMO”

for Matt Ballou

Your painting, to me, depicts memory
quickly fading — only two days later—
of that fateful Friday: Romans’ gory
nailing him to splintered wood, sharp saber
slashing his side — then loved ones deposing
him from jagged cross, psyches shocked from touch
of his carcass. Yet soon they would kneel, sing
of his rising, leaving the tomb. Arms clutch
his apostles, his mother before his
ascension. And that lifting from our earth
through sky, form easing from sight — only this
invites blurring of that Friday, rebirth
of faith and hope as every saddened face
fades, leaving love’s energy in its place.

April 5, 2015

 

“CERTAIN DARK THINGS”

Neruda, understanding their goodness,
loved them in secret. But I’d rather share
mine with you: how midnight’s moonlight can bless
the river’s passing glance from trains. Your bare
shoulder in shadow calling my mouth. Black’s
sacred veil surrounding single candle’s
glow, its ebony covering your back—
curving contour calling me to fondle
you gently as touching tulip’s petal,
then with strength of night caressing our room’s
landscape. When loving silhouettes settle
in bed, as ours do now, should we presume
all earth knows we share this greatest desire,
dark things startled by how your eyes catch fire?

April 15, 2015

 

BECAUSE HE LEFT US ART

for my son-in-law Eric Sweet

Because he left us art he never leaves.
“Come to Nothing” comes to something after
all — his deft printmaking (although we grieve)
leading us to memory and laughter:
We don’t just have to, we get to explore
the “Ideal”. His “Impacted” mezzotints
still lead me through ancient caverns where scores
of fossils and etchings embed walls. Hints
of vital artifacts lie in their show
“Premeditated”. On my townhouse walls,
I study his framed colors, how they glow,
inspiring eyesight and insight. They call
me to life’s joy and plight, urge me to fight
for soul’s freedom, stay true in all I write.

April 24, 2015

 

SONG: SOON I GOTTA LET THAT OLE DOG GO

for Mandy McBryde

She came slinkin’ tonight into my yard
Another lost heart caught me off guard
Storm chasing her to my loving arms
What do I do now? ‘Cause I know
Soon I gotta let that ole dog go

She’s lying there on my couch’s red cover
Not lying like those other lost lovers
Our mission’s to keep each other from harm
Oh, what do I do now? ‘Cause I know
Soon I gotta let that ole dog go

She’s real super sweet and snuggly
Missing somebody tonight who’s dear
I wish it were me. I’m glad she’s here
I’m missing someone who treats me ugly
Still it’s good he’s gone. I’m glad she’s here

Stars breaking through. She’s scratching the door
Gazing at me like lost lovers before
Longing to break from my loving arms
What do I do now? I guess you know:
I open the door. Let that ole dog go
Linger in the doorway, watching her go

May 9, 2015

 

DANCE

Everything is sex, everything is prayer,
all controlled through spirit within each cell.
This is where dance brings us, that summit where
air’s existence swirls in clarity. Tell
me, when we dance, what you feel – your nucleus
of being focused so deep, so real, earth
seems another world far from touch. For us
lost in motion’s atmosphere where our birth
echoes, we discover what soul always
knows, what breathes within our blessed memory.
We leap, we twirl, we pause. Our bodies play
tricks with the universe as our sensory
and psychic reflex soars, evolves within
that place where freedom marries discipline.

May 15, 2015

 

“HELIOS”

Carl Nielsen, composing his overture
while gazing at black Aegean – his eyes
entranced by breaking clouds, dark waves captured
by rippling tongue of white-silver sunrise
blazing now to scarlet gold – sends his strings,
horns and woodwind lifting from melody
to fanfare – their lush marriage enclosing
all: seed of earth, of man to woman, seed
of soul’s creative rising. Down the way,
at the Acropolis Museum, Anne
Marie sculpts her view of Peplos Kore,
focuses to perfect her braids. She can
sense Carl’s fingers caressing violin.
Her tooth chisel kisses the kore’s chin.

May 19, 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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