The Poetry Porch presents

the sonnet scroll xiii

Copyright © 2013 by Joyce Wilson


By Georg Heym, trans. by William Ruleman

    Some kids stole the crutches of the old sad sack      
    At the lamppost there with his cursing whine.
    One’s look is lured to the large red sign
    That traces him, rampant, from neck to back.

    For hours, at the new house on the block,
    A man’s been hammering steel to bits.
    On the bridge feeding swans, a couple sits,
    Collecting around them their little flock.

    Now the sunset burns the woodland’s hem
    With a gold light that starts to disappear
    As clouds, in pairs, snuff out its light.

    Yet in rosy blue, the glittering gem
    Of the evening star—pure, lonely, and clear—
    Still shines—burns too brightly: Rain tonight.

    Copyright © 2013 by William Ruleman

By Georg Heym

    Dem Bettler stahlen Kinder seine Krücken.
    Nun sitzt er schimpfend am Laternenpfahl.
    Den Blick lockt an ein großes rotes Mal,
    Das wuchernd zieht vom Halse zu dem Rücken.

    Am Neubau hämmert in den harten Stahl
    Ein Mann seit Stunden, daß er birst zu Stücken.
    Ein Pärchen füttert Schwäne von den Brücken,
    Um sich versammelnd ihre kleine Zahl.

    Im Uferwalde brennt in gelbem Schein
    Der Abendhimmel. Wolken ziehn zu paar
    Darüber hin. Ihm wird der Glanz genommen.

    Doch glänzt im ros’gen Blau der Edelstein
    Des Abendsternes, einsam, rein und klar.
    Es brennt zu hell. Zu Nacht wird Regen kommen.

By Georg Heym, trans. by William Ruleman

(Hugo von Hofmannsthal)

    A thousand creatures’ pulsing will
    Rages inside us like racing horses;
    Veins’ vines seethe; wildfire courses
    Throughout us and lures us to hurt and kill.

    Battle-tested bestial forces,
    Well-selected manly skill
    Suit our hell. And so we spill
    Our legacy of Earth’s resources.

    Yet listening to our souls, we hear
    Ice start to clink, and water stir,
    And then strange currents, loud and clear,

    And then a wingbeat’s quiet whirr. . .
    And we feel at one, alone
    With earthly powers we had not known.

    Copyright © 2013 by William Ruleman

By Georg Heym

    Willensdrang von tausend Wesen
    Wogt in uns vereint, verklärt:
    Feuer loht und Rebe gärt
    Und sie locken uns zum Bösen.

    Tiergewalten, kampfbewährt,
    Herrengaben, auserlesen,
    Eignen uns und wir verwesen
    Einer Welt ererbten Wert.

    Wenn wir unsrer Seele lauschen,
    Hören wir’s wie Eisen klirren,
    Rätselhafte Quellen rauschen,

    Stille Vögelflüge schwirren . . .
    Und wir fühlen uns verwandt
    Weltenkräften unerkannt.

By William Ruleman

“Nothing gold can stay.”
—Robert Frost

    As if some child had dipped them in Easter-egg dye,
    Myriad maple leaflets are sprouting today,
    Chartreuse before a livid lavender sky.
    Flighty as fireflies aglow on evenings in May,
    They make me neglect that naught chartreuse can stay,
    Spellbound as I am yet again by these sprigs that sing,
    These green lights that urge me to go shun work for play,
    These lime tears stinging my ears and making them ring.
    Chartreuse, the liqueur these limpid leaflets fling;
    Chartreuse, the grape-shreds fleeing those ash-gray spokes    
    (Skinny skeletal winter’s claws that cling
    To spring’s champagne spewed forth, the stuff of jokes);
    Chartreuse . . . Is nature’s gaudiest green fool’s gold?
    Can a hue this haughty ever grow old?

    Copyright © 2013 by William Ruleman

    By Denise Provost

    It looks as though the snow has ceased to fall.
    I hear the shovel’s scrape, then the dull growl
    of small snow-blowers, followed by the plow
    that shifts the snowfall higher on the tall
    banks that enclose us. What we see is all
    distorted; once familiar sights effaced,
    street grid and landmarks gradually encased
    in deepening piles and drifts, into which small
    children venture at their peril. I walk
    into a world of surrealistic shapes.
    The sun is out, people have come to gawk
    at how one storm has altered the landscape
    and placed on ordinary life a lock
    that we, so outmatched, struggle to escape.

    Copyright © 2013 by Denise Provost

    Belief in Things Unseen
    By Denise Provost

    The most amazing thing happened today—
    I managed to thread a needle, the eye
    of which I couldn’t see at all. You say
    it’s not remarkable, but you should try
    inserting a thin piece of cotton skein
    into an aperture essentially
    invisible. Why even undertake
    a task that’s so unlikely to succeed?

    It is pure faith, which age cannot abate,
    that makes it possible for me to find
    an opening my eyes cannot locate,
    on just my second try. For, in my mind,
    I’m certain that a needle will admit
    a thread, if not a camel, into it.

    Copyright © 2013 by Denise Provost

    By Denise Provost

    “Florida Fruit” was the name of the shop
    where I took my little daughter, and bought
    her there her very first fresh fig. I watched
    as she bit into it. Her eyes grew big,
    as she exclaimed, “It’s filled with jam!” That fig
    brought revelation, misperceived or not.

    I could not allow my child to believe
    that jam-filled pastries simply grew on trees;
    so I explained the splendid botany
    of a soft fruit, even softer inside,
    produced on tender plants. I also tried
    to describe lands by far-off, milder seas,
    conducive to such growth; because, you know,
    Florida is not where the fig trees grow.

    Copyright © 2013 by Denise Provost

by Gene Twaronite

All that remained
was a wisp
   of bones—

beads of vertebrae
arching the spine
behind its skull.

Baring tiny teeth,
it gapes with empty
sockets at the sun

shining through the
windows of its
ivory chapel.

Copyright © 2013 by Gene Twaronite

By James Naiden


    No one knows what happened to you, just
    That you were gone, vanished, your Plymouth
    Left near the Golden Gate Bridge, and no fuss,
    No death note, except talk about going south
    To Mexico, like Ambrose Bierce some years
    Earlier; he too was not found alive
    Or dead; older than you, worn with fears
    For nearly seven decades, to arrive
    At a bitter place; like you, he came to see
    The world was a hard shell, always rough.
    One may read James Reidel’s biography,
    Marvel at your steep terrain, which was tough.
    There is no going back to relive the past.
    Your poems are tall as a Viking mast.

    Copyright © 2013 by James Naiden

    Postcard on the first day of spring
    By Kelley Jean White

                —for Christopher Bursk

    There was a star in the center of your
    book. Just where the binding split from so much
    re-reading. I’d put a cardinal feather
    there to mark my place. I can’t tell whether
    it grew into wings when it tasted such
    wisdom, or flew off on the wind, a blur
    of laughter at your bitter comic truths—
    laughter, with, not at, a sad boy naked—
    no, not a sad boy, a triumphant boy—
    a boy who teaches, loves each of us, gives,
    gives, coaxes each little flame ’til it lives
    by itself its own spinning whistling joy
    wrapped in your words, which you give, and we take.
    One little starspark left. And the feather.
    You gave it to me. Yes, that forever.

    Copyright © 2013 by Kelley Jean White

    By B. E. Stock

    Poor little planet, what have you done?
    Are you too small around to deserve the degree?
    Did they find you don’t really orbit the sun?
    Is your center not fire but celestial scree?
    What have you done to be cast into doubt—
    Have you gotten too tired to capture a moon?
    Did your mountains grow inward rather than out?
    Are you wrapped in a mane and not a cocoon?

    I know you are there in the velvety sky
    Just as you were before I was born
    And though I can’t see you with unaided eye
    It wouldn’t be right to leave you forlorn.
    So what if you’re different? Why should I explain it?
    For me you remain, as you have been, a planet.

    Copyright © 2013 by B. E. Stock

    Real-Sock Sonnet
    By Ron Singer

    My daughter just bought a new pair of socks,
    twenty-four percent polyester
    with a touch of spandex (twelve percent)
    thrown in, for good wear (and measure).
    The rest, sixty-four percent, is cotton.
    Organic polyester,” she joked.
    Well, some polyesters are organic
    (petroleum-based), but others are not.

    Since the label wasn’t more specific,
    assuming inorganic polyester,
    her socks are still about two-thirds real,
    which, these days, I suppose, is not bad for hose.
    Given the iron laws of Economics,
    let’s say these socks are as real as it gets.

    Copyright © 2013 by Ron Singer

Julia in the Bois de Boulogne, 1858
By K. E. Duffin

    Sitting in leaf litter, your back against a tree,
    white hair and dark coat unmistakably yours,
    three quarters of a long century
    before your birth, waiting for Flora, or already Flora’s—

    are you sending me a posthumous message?
    Perhaps you were always here, in Marville’s photograph,
    (Marville!) even as you walked the map of Rome, adding page     
    after page to your life’s work, your epitaph.

    Surrounded by a sea of fallen leaves,
    homunculus subsiding into the Latinate embrace
    of autumn like a figure in a Chinese painting who grieves
    the passing of every season—time and space

    are your compass now. In antique sun and shade,
    is it life or mortality that you evade?

    Copyright © 2013 by K. E. Duffin

By K. E. Duffin

    Elephant’s foot poured into earth,
    sluggish syrup of bark with sensuous folds,
    taproot sunk many cellars below, so old
    the sidewalk quakes at the rebirth

    of giants, who erupt . . . but only this one
    in a landscape of smaller strivers
    has taken hold, feeling for the sun,
    pushing the sky, espier of rivers.

    What roamed beneath, curled up or prayed
    in its shade before our cities were made?
    How many winter stars roosted in its crown?

    Now leaves stay green until they drift down—
    Tenacious to live, it must economize:
    no interim gold, no showy mock goodbyes.

    Copyright © 2013 by K. E. Duffin

    Catherine nue assise sur une peau de panthère
    by Moira Egan

          (after the painting by Suzanne Valadon, 1923)

    Catherine relaxes on the panther skin
    that’s draped across a chair as in someone’s den.
    She’s off in thought, or maybe on the brink
    of boredom, ready to return to posing,
    bemusing resignation in her eyes.
    Her breasts point downward; clearly gravity
    is not a stranger, and her abdomen
    protrudes, a friendly paunch. Here is a woman
    who probably enjoys her cheese and wine,
    and why not? She works hard—look at those thighs,
    their massive strength, and yet the lovely feet—
    aristocratic promise gone unseen
    by anyone she passes in the street.
    To them she’s just the charwoman, Catherine.

    Copyright © 2013 by Moira Egan

    La femme aux bas blancs
    by Moira Egan

          (after the painting by Suzanne Valadon, 1924)

    If he had painted her, I fear she’d be
    a succubus—not succulent and rare,
    plopped solid, rightful on the Empire chair,
    hands comfortably clasped, propping the right knee
    up across the left leg, letting us see
    a swath of healthy thigh, skin smooth and fair,
    between white stockings and lace-edged underwear
    that peeks out from beneath the red chemise.

    And though she doesn’t seem to have the time
    to kick off her shoes (vermilion Louis heels),
    her make-up’s still intact, the contoured eyes
    and carmine lips emphatically defined
    by a practiced hand. She won’t say what she feels
    about the abandoned, hopeful rose bouquet.

    Copyright © 2013 by Moira Egan

    Sonnet on the Occasion of His __th Birthday
    by Moira Egan

    It’s true that those of us who come into
    the world in summer understand the heat.
    And, certainly, it’s up there in degrees,
    whatever we call this thing between us two.
    I heard your voice’s warmth last night when you
    telephoned just to say that you missed me.
    I pictured you, shirtless and no A/C,
    alone and sleepless. (Yes, I miss you too.)

    Your Centigrade, my Fahrenheit, this world’s
    a place where love’s a scorched earth policy
    and global warming’s real, not fantasy.
    Who knows what’s next, but this heat, oddly pure,
    that glows between us sometimes makes me cry
    the way you did when we first said good-bye.

    Copyright © 2013 by Moira Egan

    In the Villa Sciarra Garden
    by Moira Egan

          (after Richard Wilbur, Henri Cole, and a bout of the blues)

    I plop down on the cool white marble seat
    before the fountain. I’ve come here to lose
    this case of expat-melancholy-blues
    by listening to the genius loci
    that babbles down around the family
    of sweetly shaggy fauns and their pet goose
    cavorting to the faun-son’s conch-shell music.
    The pool is full today, laced through with leaves
    and fall debris, one Fanta can afloat.
    The polizia horses come to drink,
    then snort, and whinny happily, and stamp
    impatient hooves. Time too for me to go:
    I stand and stretch the cold away, and think
    how Caravaggio’d love to paint their rumps.

    Copyright © 2013 by Moira Egan

    by Donald Sheehy

    And they did eat, and were all filled. —Luke 9:17

    In early spring the shore of the bay
    is littered with fresh heaps of fish kill:
    gizzard-shad mostly, of various size,
    here and there the distinct tint of bluegill.
    Every March they come in with the thaw,
    rising up dead as the ice dissolves,
    riding the rise of melt water ashore.
    Some, badly battered, are crusted in sand;
    others lay gleaming on rocks gently washed.
    Except for those the crows have plucked,
    each limpid, round, and lidless eye
    turns heavenward uncomprehending,
    as though by reproach, if mute and mild,
    a world such as this might be mended.

    Die offs are unexceptional here.
    All spring and summer carcasses
    bloat and rot on the narrow sands
    or float in shallows clotted with grass.
    But this time is different somehow.
    Death has never despoiled so many,
    and as their numbers multiply—
    by tens and by hundreds of thousands—
    I think of hungers unsatisfied,
    of bodies famished, souls starved for faith,
    in the cruel abundance of waste.
    No miracles wait for the pious or poor
    along this malodorous shore.
    Still, I look at the sky and ask why.

                      Presque Isle, Pennsylvania 2013

    Copyright © 2013 by Donald Sheehy

    by Donald Sheehy

    And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they
    cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall
    take up serpents.
    —Mark 16:17-18

    Like snakes that writhe in a shallow hollow
    my thoughts turn in on themselves and swallow;
    my heart recoils in dark turmoil.
    Once I believed that faith and science,
    like twin prongs forked from a single stick,
    could—when wielded with patience and grace—
    still sort and sift, still pin and lift
    out from the shifting, seething mass
    a single serpent, charmed and stilled,
    and held for mind to contemplate
    through brille and scale, through awe and dread,
    the fusion of venom and beauty.
    Now all thought is a poisonous snarl.
    I would shed more than skin to be free.

    Copyright © 2013 by Donald Sheehy

    by Donald Sheehy

    And I looked, and behold, a pale horse & his name that sate
    on him was Death.
    —Revelation 6:8

    If I tell you that three pale horses
    galloped across a field of fresh snow,
    each breath a cloud of vapor rising
    each hoof fall a bursting cloud below—
    If I sound out their muffled thunder
    until the air all around you quakes,
    or spin a whirlwind of swirling frost
    to scatter light through crystalline flakes—
    If I summon forth those pale horses,
    unbridled, stride by unbroken stride,
    the outstretched necks, wide eyes, flared nostrils,
    the supple shoulders, the heaving sides—
    Then could you say why, with no warning,
    I was undone by grief and longing?

    Copyright © 2013 by Donald Sheehy

    by Donald Sheehy

                      After Frost

    A snowy owl in a pasture of snow
    on a frigid and blustery day
    concealed itself in stillness and white
    and I watched as it waited for prey.
    I could with a shiver of dark delight
    and a clear metaphysical conscience
    claim the unfortunate mouse was white
    but it wasn’t and truth should suffice.
    I think it was a white-footed mouse
    but it might well have been a vole;
    the snow was fiercely swirling about
    and I was too far to be certain.
    Whichever it was it bled a bright red
    and the eyes of the owl glowed like gold.

    Copyright © 2013 by Donald Sheehy

    by Donald Sheehy

                     For Donna

    The pond is as still as the sky it reflects
    until the tip of a tree swallow’s wing
    dips down too near the transparent surface
    and stirs up a spiral of concentric rings.
    We have no word for a touch so ethereal,
    no name for the margin of water and air,
    and even when whispered the plosives of ripple
    would amplify falsely the wave motion there.
    Nonetheless in reflection the world is altered
    as unsettled suns slide forward and back;
    the sturdy straight trees grow pliant and waver,
    while whole wide horizons expand and contract.
    My mind, if you will, is that mutable water,
    and the wing of the swallow a stray thought of you.

    Copyright © 2013 by Donald Sheehy

Sonnets for Sunflowers
by Joyce Wilson

    May sonnets I create today vibrate
    And methods I employ be multiple
    Like these self-seeded favorites of Van Gogh
    Who stand together, many eight feet tall.

    May several lines exact their bright appeal
    As blossoms do in hues of gold and yellow,
    Whose crenellated crowns of petal silk
    Surround a fertile darkness at the center.

    May stanzas open branches up to let
    The songbirds come and feast among the leaves,
    Upright or hanging upside down, to rip
    And scatter hope by sowing next year’s seeds.

    Before the blossoms shrink and lose their color,
    May these few words record my love of summer.

    Copyright © 2013 by Joyce Wilson