Sonnet Challenge #6.

This challenge is another one from Pia in Denmark.  “Current events with a humorous twist.”  I wrote it as things start to get a little heated in North Korea, US has closed two Russian embassies after US embassy staff was reduced in Russia, who are about to conduct battle practices, Syria has become so much of a bar fight I’ve stopped trying to follow who’s fighting whom, and Vladimir Putin and Elon Musk are both predicting world war III will be done by artificial intelligence.  Oy vey and that’s just the stuff I’m paying attention to.

The reference to grayness, by the way is for the dissolution of the tidy black and white of the chess board.  When I wrote this sonnet, I initially did this on paper.  When I went to type it up, I typoed the original ‘Boys will be boys’ and I think it’s one of life’s better typos…..

I’m hoping that the sense of humor that I’ve used doesn’t mean I need to seek political asylum on Alpha Centauri.  (Anyone have the phone # for their embassy just in case?)

The board of international politics

is getting so much grayer than before.

The pawn, castle and king – war or not war?

What difference does this make to us mere hicks?

We hate our neighbors, but we need to trade,

and then won’t trade because we don’t approve

of how they live and hate.  Our knights outmove

and bishops all expelled, and weapons made

for what? Fists are not how you make a friend!

Boys will be bots, and this is getting dumb!

Is this the “sense” we will base AI on –

the hope and fear that this whole thing will end?

The politics these days are such a mess,

I wish they’d settle it with a game of chess.


Sonnet Challenge #5.

This one came from my good friend Adrian in France (Petitbricoleur).  He has a wry sense of humor, and made one naughty suggestion I rejected – but this is the one that was quite an easy mark for me.   I’ve been wanting to use the last line for a while.  Google “split infinitive examples” to see why.  (Yes, I’m a recovering Trekkie.)

The finite minds, our life’s reality.

The bony skulls – within, the brain so soft

dives us in atoms, and the skies aloft

yet cannot comprehend infinity.

We promise we will love forevermore –

infinity of time that’s also lost

to understanding.  We don’t feel the cost

of setting sail when there’s no further shore

to land on.  Is this all there is?  This sea?

This sky? This light?  This wind that blows us on

and on and no release from what has gone?

We must be, and cannot choose not to be.

And when at last my immortal soul is free,

I’ll smile, and boldly split infinity.

Sonnet Challenge #4.

I’m putting these up in approximately the order that they’re being typed up in.  The other week when I was typing up the sonnets I wrote while I was in Flagstaff, I discovered a couple that I’d written in Monterey in July and had never typed up.

This is another of Darrin’s suggestions.  (His topics infer that he is inspired by frustrations in life.)  “Letter to a brusque cashier at the retail store”.

The Cashier.
(read from a guy’s perspective).
The line is long, progress we make is slow,

then I catch a glimpse of the cashier’s pretty face.

If I ask to take her with me, perhaps she’ll go,

Like me, can’t wait to get out of this place.

She doesn’t make eye contact, doesn’t smile

at customers, the way she talks is flat.

The workload that she has is half a mile.

Each problem is resolved matter of fact,

each question answered blunt like they were dumb.

She’s gorgeous but her attitude’s a wreck,

stuff thrown in bags as if her heart were numb

and all she thinks of is the next paycheck.

I thank her, smile and wish her a nice day;

I turn.  She shoots a happy grin my way.

Sonnet Challenge #3

This one was from Darrin’s challenge:  “The advantages and hidden disadvantages of hot showers”.  As you can see, I’ve used poetic license in the interpretation.  Please try though, to imagine yourself in the shower, and not me.

Hot Water
I turn the motel shower faucet on –

a test!  It’s up and down, or left and right?

At last, a stream, then, leaving it to warm

for a quick shower, I tie my braids up tight.

I step in, barely warm for a quick sluice.

I’d like some heat to help tired muscles unfold.

So left a notch, soap up, sweet scented juice

but suddenly this rainfall starts to scald

my skin.  I wince and dodge and nudge it right,

but now it’s ice!  I shudder, try to turn

it back to middle, but I lose this fight,

rinse, alternating between freeze and burn.

So maybe next time I will be more bold,

Decide to simply have the shower cold.

The Sonnet Challenge, #2.

This is the second of the sonnets created from the responses to the challenge put out in this month’s newsletter.   Of course you will notice as we go through that topics aren’t always interpreted directly, sometimes I pretzel things around before I start.  This one was from Eric in Ventura and his suggestion was “Last Words”.

The Last Word.
By phone she needs to have the final text,

another word when none’s left to be said;

a conversation done but not yet dead,

a period that always has a next….

In person it’s the same, just one more “bye”

when we’ve already “bye’d” and turned away,

she always has to have the ending say,

she never can be done and let it lie.

I’m not trying to upstage her end,

my last response just trying to ensure

I’m with her and I did not just ignore

the message of someone I’d keep a friend.

And when I saw the battle was absurd

I gave up and let her have the last word.


Just had to post this.

I wrote this poem sometime in the 70s.  Perhaps there was an eclipse around that time that was in the news, but I don’t remember getting to see it.   What I mean by a “circular, alternating poem” is that each line has a different meaning if read as a couplet with the line above and the line below (the alternating part) – and the last line is the first line again….

(a circular, alternating poem)

as sky and sea and land
merged all in one
with darkness
filling the air
there was no sign
of life
there appeared no evidence
of fear
there was reek in the air
and the stench of death
in some nostrils
there was only despair
throughout the world
where darkness grew
silence ramified voices
like there was no language
things turned and walked alone
to await the time
only patience was required
before this second dawn of the moon
the word should wear a shroud
of fate and miscomprehension
the extent was unknown but widespread
and it was unseen by an outsider
this sudden relief when the end was over
and going back to the beginning
was a slow process
like this punishment
for crime unrealized and unintentional
is no less real and irreversible
an experience such as this like life
might be needed in the eternity beyond kings
to realize the beauty of its symmetry
it must be observed with real eyes
for there only can be seen
the world relazed unharmed reemerges
as sky and sea and land

Another sonnet.

Sometimes it gets quiet at art fairs.  There is often a bit of a lull around lunch time.  If I’m sitting at the back of the booth at the desk, I’ll often use the time to work on my bucket list item of more Shakesperean sonnets than Shakespeare.  Flagstaff was productive and I was able to write a sonnet each of the three days.  I sometimes have to search around for inspiration, Saturday’s inspiration was the nest of sparrows within tweeting distance.


The sparrow has more color than you’d think

(but painters know burnt umber, wine, ecru)

and though they seem to flit off in a wink

the observer sees the little things they do.

Sometimes they’ll dust in patches of soft sand

and often in a puddle from the rain

with wriggling bodies, wings aflutter, and

the knowledge that they’ll soon feel fresh again.

The well-trained ear can spot each different call –

the black-throat’s glockenspiel and house’s cheep

the white-crowned sparrow’s sweet melodious trill

and common to them all, the young chick’s tweet.

So if you ever thought sparrows were plain

Take another look and listen, think again!