nthposition online magazine

If this were the last sonnet in my life, B movie sonnet, Sonnet of hard rain, Consciousness sonnet


[ poetry - january 04 ]

If this were the last sonnet in my life

Just fourteen lines? Shakespeare set upon his task
one summer day in 1592. He had fled the plague, but
was young, in his early twenties probably, before

the histories and tragedies had played out in his head
and made him brittle with things he didn't want
to know. Of course he was just making a living,

as I am now, with the cheat of useless lyrics
like an afternoon of half-meant words and flirtatious
conversation. The moon is now in its first quarter,

identical to the one he saw low in the trees, as he wrote
lines by candle light. I have around eighty to go
before I catch him, but the sky throws lines like dice:

the last sonnet I will ever write. It is wildly imperfect,
and halts like a gallery ghost at fourteen lines.


B movie sonnet

A perfect date in my Cadillac eight. The Marquis
de Sade, a burr under my saddle. Free, he mutters
to me, as I attempt to love you across bucket

seats. A million years of evolution produced
this lovely car, produced my onstar prurience, the leather
seats and four on the floor, a throaty roar, from

me or the car, no way to know. Moonrise, too soon,
floods the seats with a buttery light. The radio
shudders with fright, an Eric Satie piece, piano

and typewriter. In your leather and piercings, you
look like the perfect gauleiter. But you might have bought
that outfit at Sears, I might be the polyester prince

of a hundred B movies. GM might have bought us both:
In floodlights and cameras, I plight thee my troth.


Sonnet of hard rain

From what I hear, rain's everywhere tonight,
outside of Phoenix maybe, and Mexico. All I know,
is it falls on my roof so hard I can't hear the music.

And even though rain falls, it remains like a jungle,
humid, and empty of that true summer air, that tried
to spead across the land and was stymied, because

summer is not what it was, and arctic cold
has begun to slip beneath the tropic, with its promise
of a winter worse than summer. Christ, why

do I live in Canada? I dreamt about this place, once,
on an island off Europe. Iceland once was green, and
Greenland ice. I think here, in the topmost British colony,

we were placed to understand, once and for all,
every grade of impermanence, every shade of irony.


Consciousness sonnet

That spider in the tub must be dreaming,
if it thinks I will let it stay there. It spins a web
to trap the small flies, happily unaware

of impermanence, or time, or the cold winter
in the offing. Most of us are conscious of the ebb
of the sun, the green explosions, settling to

an afterwards of withered stems and carbon ash.
Consciousness parses time, divides it into thoughts.
Right now I am wondering what I will do

tomorrow. No animal can afford to think like that,
even if it might. But of course it cannot think through
to consequence, as I can, through fourteen lines,

and as for the final couplet, the spider remains
unaware, blissfully; infinitely dining on unconscious flies.