The Poetry Porch presents

the sonnet scroll xvi

Copyright © 2017 by Joyce Wilson


    By K. E. Duffin

    In glinting scrapyards and fallen playgrounds,
    evening feels the icy bones of the built world,
    caresses the suede of rust and dissolution.
    Day's bright intermission is ending.
    Epileptic storms of light are herding crowds
    as a jet leaves its shining needle in sky silk,
    a comet's tail, stitching unfinished tapestries,
    warless Bayeux, where people fall like diagrams
    among shimmering parks and expressways — 
    the city is studded with blacked-out funeral homes
    mixed in among the living, like points
    of retinal blindness. Clinical topographies
    of age burn in that curtained blaze, leaving
    desire and distance, enameled window views.

    Copyright © 2017 by K. E. Duffin.

    By K. E. Duffin

    How the sky opened up, radiant, Tuscan,
    with rapid Mongolian clouds hurrying to recede.
    I remember those summers, and the melding shade
    of chiaroscuro glossaries of sun — 

    You never arrive in a jubilant season,
    dappled with longing, bannered in words.
    Even in dreams, you are always fleeing toward
    whatever equanimity of reason

    will deny the pleasure of longed-for antiphon, deny
    the melodious, burnished meadows of stillness.
    In this inlay of sunlight, anguish and trope,

    I find you where the gulls are blown, wordless,
    in the whipped splendor of the cold sky,
    on a plane that leaves its javelin of smoke.

    Copyright © 2017 by K. E. Duffin.

    Walker Lake
    By K. E. Duffin

    Fragment of dark glass in arid lands.
    Are you flying over too? An insectoid shadow
     — your plane in ’45? — rippling below,
    merges with the creeping shade that expands

    to mimic nightfall on anonymous slopes.
    From thirty thousand feet above I see
    remnants of Lahontan shores, spiny
    ridges tapering north, lashed with ropes

    of light, and think of you, as distant now
    as the Pleistocene. Vast seas drain
    away, depths become desert day by day,

    until each thing arrives at its negation.
    Wordless now like the wind, how
    will you speak? I’ll listen. Shadow, stay.

    Copyright © 2017 by K. E. Duffin.

    A Time To Dream
    By Mary Freeman

    Exhausted at the early end of day,
    The children all in bed, she leaves the game,
    The time when grown-ups are supposed to play,
    And sleeps instead — next, nothing is the same.
    No more the candle burning at each end,
    The rising early, staying up too late — 
    Now come dreams a well-kept night can send:
    Enchanting — how! — the little rose-hipped gate;
    Familiar now, the plane, the upper air,
    The knowing glance, the perfect stranger’s eye,
    The beckoning path that leads to sea somewhere:
    It makes her laugh to know she still can fly!
    She’s forty-two; it is the stuff of sleep.
    But still the joy is lasting, and it’s deep.

    Copyright © 2017 by Mary Freeman.

    By William Ruleman

    (Langensoultzbach, Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France, 3 October 2016)

      “And, little town, thy streets forevermore
          Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
              Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.”

                — John Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”

    I had to see you once before I died,
    For you were where one part of our story ended,
    You, with your Fachwerkhäuser and flowers well-tended,
    Your sheep and sheep dog and cozy countryside.

    On seeing you, I now can understand
    The places where my forebears chose to stay.
    The velvet Vosges loom not too far away.
    (Our clan prefers a mountain close at hand.)

    Though none resides in town, a native said,
    Many a Ruhlmann lives in the region still.
    But every street was shy of folk, forlorn

    The day I visited. Had I been born
    Two centuries late? Still, how one’s fancy will
    Adorn those allées with a sanguine dead!

    Copyright © 2017 by William Ruleman.

    By William Ruleman

    They wrote and painted as the Spirit bade;
    They gave no thought to what the Fashions said;
    They only hoped that everything they made
    Would still live on long after they were dead.

    And never once should they give in to doubt:
    Their task on earth was simply to create.
    And when they found their feelings in a rout,
    To master them would mean they mastered fate,

    For every moment meant eternity;
    And if they dared to let their strong faith slip,
    They would ache from Urizen’s tyranny — 
    Feel those mind-forged manacles’ deadly grip — 

    And so they labored on until they died,
    Faithful that Forever was on their side.

    Copyright © 2017 by William Ruleman.

    By William Ruleman

    I find my kindred humans seldom kind.
    And more and more, their manic chatter seems
    So like the barking dogs in my darkest dreams.
    At times I dread that I might lose my mind.

    The town’s temptations make the wisest blind
    To all the tender life that ever teems
    From pink of dawn to sunset’s golden gleams
    In Wamba’s woods, where I tend to hide with my hind.      

    Yet Paradise is all too soon pushed out.
    The coos of love give way to hate’s crude groans,
    And calm content relents to cruelty’s charms.

    Still, storming Eden with their raunchy rout,
    They find their hounds spellbound and mute as stones,
    Their barbs in my breast, the quivering hind in my arms.

    Copyright © 2017 by William Ruleman.

    By Paul Boldt; trans. By William Ruleman

    The birds, swept down in one swoop from the gust that blows       
    Through the garden, land on the lawn’s lush radiance,
    Benumbed by the scents that pepper the picket fence
    Beside the house, with its fourteen types of rose.

    Down the yellow stairs that grain the green,
    You come in white, sprayed by the winds’ rough swell;
    And the nerve fibers of your eyes can smell
    The redolence of those warm blooms, still unseen.

    Joy of the tropics wakes. In the sky’s blue sea,
    The clouds, like glowing phantoms, catch the light.
    And you, with all your fresh blood’s fragrant hum,

    Take the sun along in a love-filled night.
    Like golden bees, the light clings to the tree — 
    Light that gnaws at your lips as it might a plum.

    Copyright © 2017 by William Ruleman.

    By Paul Boldt

    Die Vögel sprangen von den Winden auf den Garten
    Und fielen auf die hellen Rasenbeet,
    Betäubt vom Duft der blühenden Staket
    Am weißen Haus mit vierzehn Rosenarten.

    Die gelben Steige, die den Rasen masern,
    Kommst du in Weiß, berieselt von den Winden,
    Und deine Augen duften noch den Blinden  — 
    Die warmen Blumen an den Nervenfasern

    Freude der Tropen wächst. Im blauen Raum
    Zünden die Wolken, leuchtende Phantome.
    Und du, in deines Blutes Aura und Arome,

    Nimmst Sonne mit — in eine Liebesnacht.
    Gleich goldnen Bienen hängt das Licht im Baum,
    Das deinen Mund wie eine Frucht benagt.

    By Joseph von Eichendorff; trans. by William Ruleman

    You saw the fairy comb her golden hair
    In early morn when all the wood was still;
    But many come to grief in her rockbed there,
    And no one knows the one who’ll do her will.

    I’ve heard folks speak of quite a different dame
    Down in the lowlands; clowns will show you round
    Her castle, hamlet, park — all yours to claim:
    Wed the woman! Why suffer on sorceress-ground?

    They’ll raise you onto a phaeton, the merry rout;
    The wedding bells will ring, the bottles flash;
    They’ll trail your train — all bluebloods — and they show it.

    Yet if the fairy’s gaze should find you out
    As you pass the wood and not burn you down to ash,
    Farewell, for you have never been a poet!

    Copyright © 2017 by William Ruleman.

    By Joseph von Eichendorff

    Du sahst die Fei ihr goldnes Haar sich strählen,
    Wenn morgens früh noch alle Wälder schweigen,
    Gar viele da im Felsgrund sich versteigen,
    Und weiß doch keiner, wen sie wird erwählen.
    Von einer andern Dam´ hört ich erzählen
    Im platten Land, die Bauern rings dir zeigen
    Ihr Schloß, Park, Weiler — alles ist dein eigen,
    Freist du das Weib — wer möcht im Wald sich quälen !
    Sie werden dich auf einen Phaeton heben,
    Das Hochzeitscarmen tönt, es blinkt die Flasche,
    Weitrauschend hinterdrein viel vornehm Wesen.
    Doch streift beim Zug dich aus dem Walde eben
    Der Feie Blick, und brennt dich nicht zu Asche:
    Fahr wohl, bist nimmer ein Poet gewesen!