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Selected Sonnets: Summer 2015

yasawa_islands

NAMASTE

I bow to the divine in you. Know this
is true by my palms and fingers touching,
thumbs close to my heart: spiritual kiss
in making love to your universe. Sing
of our sudden meeting in 3000
BC – you kneeling on Indus shore, eyes
reflecting clear river, your dancing hands
pausing when seeing me. I watched you rise,
tried to match your graceful bow. In each age
I find you – always – stare at your river
eyes, struggle to mirror your grace. The sage
said you’d return each century, never
staying. And so it goes with us: we two
lost, till I bow to the divine in you.

June 1, 2015

 

RENEWAL

It begins with focus on deep breathing
followed by forming straight line with my spine,
organs settling in place, psyche’s writhing
being lifted somehow by the divine
universe’s intervention bringing
calm to my body’s each muscle and nerve,
each move of great dance – arms and legs flexing
as one with caressing stars, endless curves
of far planets and moons reflecting sun.
What brings you and I here is mystery
solved by time within each of us, begun
and throughout our endless dance – history,
present and future aligned with motion
as our essence flows through cosmic ocean.

June 3, 2015

 

ANSWERING THE PROUST QUESTIONAIRE

Perfect honesty. Greeting strangers.
Wearing a new sweatshirt. Writing sonnets.
Greed. Losing her. Fear leading to anger.
Alternating ages. Past presidents.
When I’m silent. Philanthropy. Flee-
ing from reality. Honesty. Same.
Scrooge’s nephew. Bill Packard, James Dickey,
Dr. Frank Armbrust. Retreating from fame.
Inside her. Holding her while in a park.
Faith and action. A passionate love song.
Relationships dissolving due to stark
ego-centered fear. “Can true love be wrong?”
“For my age and temperament, I’m fine.” “Poor.”
“Pray for them.” “If you don’t shoot, you don’t score.”

June 4, 2015

 

 

YOU IN SHADOW

You in shadow create a dramatic
sculpture, though all you do is stand there. You
in shadow — with sensual elastic
stretching — profile horizon of soft blue,
though all you do is lie there. Your shadow
embracing entire far wall arouses
with your rising arms. My flexing shadow
bows to your streaming shadow. What houses
my passion quakes to your heat, my walls fall.
My body — steaming in smoky swirls – curls
its burning wreath around you. Something calls
from far off, from deep within. Gleaming pearls
of your eyes pierce our shadow as I pierce
you, our screaming universe shrill and fierce.

June 12, 2015

 

 

VANISHING

Firm physical form of you vanishing
yet essence of you always here with me,
within me. Recall of you brandishing
your panda claws, each finger ringed, glory
of your panda toboggan, blank-eyed crown
fantasy contrast to your blue dream eyes
matching near-transparent window curtain —
faint Mondrian pattern symbol of wise
poetic mind you hold so hidden yet
dear. What do you fear, I wonder and know.
I even understand what you forget —
part of dear glory in watching you grow
through this rhythmic discovery of ours,
surrendering to our Muse’s power.

June 18, 2015

 

 

“THE LAKE HOUSE”

Of course I cried. You can negotiate
parallel lives in movies. It’s tougher
in real life, even to facilitate
my own. To reach out my hand and touch your
shoulder when you’re not there, yet truly sense
your texture. To take suggestions – to wait –
surrender to that silent voice. Pretense
or fact? I watch you standing on the lake’s
frozen surface reflecting evergreens.
Hear his dad say, “The light. Always the light.”
If you were here I’d ask, “What does that mean
to you?” I watch cloudy dusk turn to night.
Today you smiled at me and gently waved.
I folded my hands – silent Namaste.

June 18, 2015

 

 

WHY AM I THIS LEAF

Why am I this leaf? Why is this leaf me?
Where in our universe did we unfold
as one? We organs of earth can breathe free
here since we both exist. When Goethe told
us of frail leaves did he imply our soul,
our thin intellect, our relationships?
When I perceive your graceful hands unfold
as eucalyptus in sun and my lips
whisper this, can you sense my wisp of breath,
my heart with your heart like leaves enfolding?
When my thoughts of you entwine, sacred wreath
of prayer, no surprise I dream of holding
your hand. When your sun-cured hair — curled in braids —
unfolds, no shock I’m no longer afraid.

June 21, 2015

 

 

CHANTING

Muse, I pray, send my muse deepest rhythms
of your chanting to aid her growing song.
On her mountain crest in flaring crimson
of dawn, where she loves to view river’s long
sequined never-ending flowing to sea,
share with her your scent of pines, moist-slick stones,
all aromas winds can bring – reverie
of imagery. When oceanside alone
yet not alone, guide her gaze, her every
touch of white sand and sea grass, smell of salt
air, call of gull and sandpiper. Vary
her view so each day brings fresh hues. Please halt
all fear from blurring her focus. Bring light –
inspiration’s flame – through both day and night.

June 22, 2015

 

 

I WONDER IF SHE’S WRITING

I wonder if she’s writing tonight. Heat
of breezeless dark, quarter moon like drowsy
eyelight mesmerizing her eyes complete
with tension’s imagery of cloudless sky,
stars in tug-of-war with glare of distant
skyline. I wonder if she climbed today
that ancient route of rock she always wants
to scale and find the river, ancient way
the wanderers used to climb. I wonder
if her skylight eyes looked past horizon,
past yawning sunset where the Muse wanders,
pauses, listens, waits for her decision.
I wonder if she sees me far out yonder
wondering if she wonders what I wonder.

June 23, 2015

 

 

I HAVE SO MUCH LIFE TO SHARE

I have so much life to share with you, please
forgive me if I sing. Sometimes my song’s
life’s only summary. It helps release
deep you in me, returning to prolong
deep me in you. We’re curled forest’s thick vines
you love to swing like nature’s jungle jims;
great mountain’s green field stretching to fine line
of rocky ledge looking out past curved rim
of sunrise – fertile valley’s lamplight. When
your grey-capped head framed in long hair appears
a vision through snow-coated branches, grin
turning to bright song, I celebrate dear
presence of you – honor your resonance:
echo your lyric, or praise with silence.

June 24, 2015

 

 

WE WHO LOVE WITH INCREDIBLE CANDOR

We who love with incredible candor
manage only through gifts from gods – Eros
calling us to create with faith, ardor
and honest desire. Calliope shows
us how to sing – ecstatic harmony
from our deepest regions of existence.
She passes her writing tablet only
when observing our transparent essence
released through loss and surrender. Wisest
of Muses, she accepts our humanness,
watches us wander, search beyond earth’s crest,
brave diving through oceans to mine for blessed
love. When Poseidon laughs at our folly,
tosses us to shore, we’ve learned what’s holy.

June 28, 2015

 

 

DUM DIGGLEDY DAM

Dum diggledy dam I swear we love! Where
doesn’t matter, does it? It does? Then hell
and everywhere! We turn hell (when we’re there)
to heaven! Make sufferers love to dwell
there! Dum diggledy dam damn straight we do!
See how, when sunlight crawls from bed, we blend
grey clouds to raspberry sherbet? It’s true!
Dum diggledy dam we do! Bright bars bend
to rainbows thanks to we! (Or should “we” be “us”?)
Dark oceans radiate to shining seas!
Dam diggledy dam they do! Shall we discuss
why all wars end and world pandemics cease
when singing laughing we come dancing through?
We love! So dum diggledy dam they do!

June 30, 2015

 

 

RENOIR WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU

portrayed you perhaps like Julie Manet
seated, body turned slightly left (but sans
cat), your highlight hair combed back — simple way
you like to wear it — your delicate tan
silken-earth frame for your clear-river eyes,
their intense depth revealing your curved mouth —
a reluctant sad smile. He’d prove so wise,
welcome challenge of your knitted white blouse:
circular patterns meld with flower lace
caressing your breasts, veiled short sleeves gracing
gentle flex of your arms. No doubt he’d trace
background of emerald trees, embracing
your love for nature. Then his artist’s might
would blaze: saturate you with vibrant light.

July 2, 2015

 

 

MAD MEN

The man with his hand on the red button
slouches with his bourbon in Washington.
The man with his hand on the red button
fills a shot glass with vodka in Moscow.
The man with his hand on the red button
slurps slowly, tasting rice wine in Beijing.
The man with his hand on the red button
sniffs his kosher wine in Jerusalem.
The man with his hand on the red button
downs a swig of Apo in New Delhi.
The man with his hand on the red button
mutely sips Muree in Islamabad.
These and their peers in other nations, then,
we now classify as the true Mad Men.

July 3, 2015

 

 

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GIG, MAN

for John David Salons and Gabriel Solis

It’s all about the gig, man – hands and strings
and drums and voices and now and then throw
in some brass. And an audience listening
then moving then being moved. Take a bow.
It’s all about hands with clipper and comb,
circling the chair for angles to sculpt locks,
client smiling, being moved. From the womb
we roll out into air, challenge the clock,
touch brush to paint to canvas, pen to ink
to paper, dance fingers across keyboard
to monitor – levitate on the brink
at times – all to create image – accord
with the universe. We may not know how
or why, yet we understand. Take a bow.

July 6, 2015

 

 

YOU THE MOON

That’s you tonight, moon glowing golden light.
I know, since I beheld your face today
golden from summer sun, your shining sight
igniting me to passion and to pray –
all this within my silence admiring
you. Moon last night, I’m sure, radiated
blue of you, ocean blue of your smiling
eyes, leading me to believe I mated
with some guardian angel, we blessed two
secluded among distant clouds – a sense
I never felt before. They say blue moons
appear on nights volcanoes erupt. Since
holding you, I comprehend how mountains
explode, releasing deep pleasure and pain.

July 8, 2015

 

 

I WANT TO DANCE WITH YOU

I want to dance with you. I want to fold
my longing fingers around your soft hand,
encircle your sensual waist and hold
you closer, closer and closer, (command
The Drifters to sing our song), sway your
strong legs and luscious frame over beach sands
and garden paths, tropical trails and pure
air of mountain peaks. I want foreign lands
to welcome our swirling entry, applaud
our whirling through destiny, our unplanned
circling and recircling of our vast world’s
every acre. I want our Muse’s wand
to feel our magic, our ever after
glowing through your dancing eyes and laughter.

July 9, 2015

 

 

IF WE ONLY KNEW

If we only knew what we were missing.
If we just understood how brief the time.
If we would comprehend, not dismissing
our patient Muse’s voice — unknowing crime
of running from Her — perhaps you and I
could sense in each cell great Chopin’s nocturnes:
their early rhythmic freedoms guide our eyes
to caress each human motion, return
time and again to heartbeat, pulse, soft breath
of life leading emotion to create
new metaphors for your hair’s braided wreath,
two tiny globes piercing your brow. Oh, listen
to his graceful leaps — passion on a mission.

July 11, 2015

 

 

RENAISSANCE

I’ve no doubt you didn’t mean to compel
my rebirth. It’s clear to me you’re simply
living life, unaware of casting spells
with your Mona Lisa gaze I imply
with Leonardo-like perspective through
my poems. Should Michelangelo see
you he would sculpt your graceful essence true
as his Madonna’s face. The Medici
would demand your portrait in every home.
So much for your image flooding Florence.
Your sweet spirit flows with me as I roam
Historic Hillcrest, powerful presence
propelling me to my keyboard, where alone
I form you as Il Divino would from stone.

July 17, 2015

 

 

THIS MORNING AIR

This morning air breathes ancient memories.
Reflecting light recalls our world’s first day.
Wind creaking walls echoes great Socrates
answering questions with questions to praise
the gods and teach us to think. How shall we
live? A while back, watching your reflecting
eyes study your sunlit hair’s split ends, he
saw Helen sailing to Troy, protecting
her sacred skin with veils from the goddess
Aphrodite. How shall we live? Euclid
realized how each eye’s discrete ray blessed
vision through angles. Human vision hid
from Homer, but not the gods’ perspective.
Behind his glazed lens he saw how we live.

July 23, 2015

 

 

YOU WITH BEAUTY

You with beauty of distant galaxies
reflecting Great Light and constant rebirth.
You with love depth to challenge gravity
and every breath, sensing eternal worth
of each cell’s existence. You who swim pools
and oceans with ease. You whose laughter fills
sun with nurturing fire, who suffer fools
like me gazing at your beauty until
poetry inspires painting imagery
of you through gentle phrases. You who turn
images of your own to poetry —
listen a moment, please, to what I’ve learned
by reaching to touch our burning stars in flight.
Let me listen to you through whispering night.

July 24, 2015

 

 

TO THE DISTANT ONE

Goethe, feeling he’d lost her evermore,
searched the forest and called to her shadow,
his psyche still sensing her voice. He wore
black surely ever after, bowing low
(I believe) each time wind whispered her name.
I think of you in black — sleeveless dress kissed
by pink-white flowers. Why nothing’s the same
with you distant, prayer will simply dismiss
as this day’s fate, letting faith gather each
hour some true image of you until time
for meeting again as sunrise will reach
out and ignite flowing river. I’ll climb
Pinnacle, perhaps, to find you, or trace
our room’s history for your glowing face.

August 2, 2015

 

 

WHITMAN

for Britt Boswell

Whitman, grabbing the first copy of “Leaves
of Grass” from the binder, at once begins
to edit. Blue ink from his pen receives
each crossed word with respect, slices it thin
as a sewing needle’s scar to let him
look back later at old choices. Process
reminds him to rejoice, silent anthem
within to the Muse. He’ll never confess
sinning for loving sex and men, writing
of their joy. He’ll welcome Emerson’s praise,
Thoreau’s respectful visit. When fighting
breaks out, he’ll nurse wounded soldiers, embrace
them through their crazed screams for home. He’ll begin
(without knowing it) rhymed lines for Lincoln.

August 3, 2015

 

 

A MAN MIGHT GIVE YOU

A man might give you gleaming emeralds
to influence your iris, or pearl strings
for your delicate neck. I’d be compelled
to offer you concrete nouns inspiring
images within your mind. A man may
buy you a Mercedes, bright rolling frame
for your travels. I’d rise up to display
active verbs to propel your heart. What fame
a god might offer, I could never match.
Only slowly climb mountain trails with you
and — wrapped within the cliff’s high, cool breeze — watch
sunsets blaze like something inside us. Views
of valleys might lead you to visions of home.
I’d kneel, unveiling phrases for your poem.

August 6, 2015

 

 

YOU, BACK THERE

You, back there where I stood…wish you were here
lying with me now where you lived…in cool
California morning breeze…almost clear
and now drought dry inland from the sea. Who’ll
understand here how your loving spirit
flows with me even though you find your own
way. How you smile at my smile though fear it.
Know I understand. What the gods have shown
to poets you show to me. Later I’ll
sit by Lake Tahoe, no doubt will see you
straddling your kayak, laughing as I trill
some song of life. Together we’ll dive through
deep blue…rise to welcome air…stare at each
other like gods…enfold hands…walk the beach.

August 7, 2015

 

 

BIRTHSPIRIT

for Catherine, my daughter
on her birthday
Tahoe science center’s “Sandbox” plateaus
grains of white, rose, and tan. Placing your hand
over them, a light radiates shadows
like flowing water, filling curving land’s
valleys — symbol of birthspirit bringing
lake of life. Frank and Kay’s book “Stopping Time”
offers before-and-after photos, signs
of devastation to Tahoe’s nature — crimes
by loggers stripping earth without care. Then
years later, forests renewed — science
working with nature — birthspirit’s art seen
through rebirth. This somehow leads to essence
of our nature: light of your birthspirit,
and my gratitude, being part of it.
August 21, 2015

 

PIERNÉ’S HARP AND ORCHESTRA

His concert soars how I feel when I look
in your eyes: not even heaven or earth
but pure air and light – some rare clear-blue nook
of atmosphere in High Sierras – birth
of poetry flowing from your eyes. Or
gentle-strong swimmer glowing through ocean’s
roaring pacific ebb and flow – all your
eyes see and interpret through each motion
of swimming – blurring forms creating verse
you’ve yet to form. In your classroom today,
can you sense his strings and woodwinds traverse
splendor of how mountain forests convey
poetry through universe of being
you? Through each minute image you’re seeing?

August 28, 2015

 

 

OPERA SERIA

I sing your praises to High Sierras
and they chorus back to me — not echoes
but lyrics of their own: hidden sorrows
of your deep wounds, your secret tears exposed
through terror’s screams to save yourself. Those howls
I thought a legion of wolves reveal wind’s
memories of your journey – gashing scowls
of pain and near despair. Then sunrise sends
slow reflections over Tahoe’s surface:
sign of spirit’s mute miracle mirrored
in your smile, visions of your shining face
rippling throughout clear waters – all we’ve feared
now vanished, healed by honesty’s soft light.
Our peaceful eyes study a starling’s flight.

August 31, 2015

 

 

SUMMER’S ANGELS

In my dream, you smile while walking to me,
holding slender date palms in each hand (their
fronds like angel feathers or quills to free
our poetry), your pearl summer dress bar-
ing your swimmer’s tan thighs, celestial eyes
flowing through mine and me. All of you flows,
it seems, as you offer me palms, reply
to my arm gently embracing your waist
by embracing mine. We’re caught up in throes
of warming breeze, walk clear beach matching your
dress, study ebbed ocean from which we came.
All soft: our words (knowing nothing’s the same
since we’ve risen as angels), breathing pure
air of spirit’s faith, our only sure cure.

September 1, 2015

 

yasawa_islands

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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