It was inevitable. At some point someone was going to challenge me to write a sonnet about Covid-19. Despite my science background, I was mostly inspired by the roadwork at the corner of Highway 86 and State route 22.
Behind the cones
Workers dismissed, how long for, they don’t know.
Equipment lying folded by the street’s
half torn-up surface; they’ve been here for weeks –
the crane, the gravel truck, the red back-hoe,
all wondering if they’re going to start again.
It’s been a month now since the workers left –
something is wrong – the world’s been set adrift
and they are out here rusting in the rain
that’s also started to erode the work
they’ve done so far. Nature takes back the earth
freed from the blacktopl strange kind of rebirth
spawned from the fear of one small viral quirk.
One day when covid-19’s finally gone
the work behind the cones will carry on.
If there’s a challenge for a sonnet, it’s when the power goes out and it’s soooooo quiet.
Silence can be the loudest sound of all –
the emptiness between the beats of heart,
the absence of now-frozen water’s fall
from rock to pool, in winter. When we start
and fail to stop and listen to each sound
that tells us so much if we just know how
to hear it. The when quiet comes around
we simply can breathe out, breathe in the now,
the peace, the solitude, the soundless bath
of spirit washing over a rattled mind
and so, refreshed turn back to our own path
with spaces between the stars still left to find.
Dark windless nights aspire to extol
the virtue of the silence of the soul.
Riverside Art Museum is holding a fundraiser called Art Bark in the Park to which I applied and was assigned a pup. I decided to paint the pup in oil – a skyscape with lawns on the bottom of each paw with dogs on, and my sonnet about dogs painted into the clouds. So far I’ve done the sky and the lawns. I will need to wait a week or so until that is dry enough to add the dogs and poems. I didn’t know until I picked up the dog that I was getting a beagle.
The blank canvas. I’d had to fix the undercoat in a few places. The difference in undercoat color won’t affect the painting.
My fellow artist Mary Foote came over to see this as a demo so took some photos of me in action
I was showing Mary how to blend clouds in oil
Photographed this one at an angle to get the entire dog in.
And it’s possible to paint on the back, so I have another canvas to dream up!
I haven’t posted a sonnet in a while. I was going to post one about hot flashes (seeing as I’ve been enjoying to the extent that I need to start laughing about it) but Andrew Eales’ post this morning reminded me about this sonnet:
It’s in man’s heart, because it’s in his head
to merge both words and music into song.
There’re places in our brains they both belong
together – feelings more than just what’s said.
But too, we wonder how that seed was sown
that made us lilt our words into a tune.
Was it the wolves a-howling at the moon
or cat’s meow, or buck’s loud rutting groan?
It’s much more likely that the sound above
that we sometimes call angels, were the trills
inspiring us to develop singing skills
to tell our stories, feelings, sadness, love.
Whatever was that singing that we heard
outside our souls? It was a little bird.
This morning I got an email from one of the art websites I work with – storiestoart.com. This is a little different that most art websites – although they do offer artwork, they actively promote commissions both of artwork, poetry and songs. And the staff have been wonderful people to work with!
I often get asked about the Salton Sea. Whether it is still there. Yes, but a little smaller. I am looking at a mid to dark blue sea as I write this, sitting at my dining room table (the view is better than the wall in front of my desk), which means it’s pretty breezy out there. I love the fact that I can tell the windspeed by the color of the sea, and that sometimes one half of it will be dark and the other light. That when there is no wind, it is the same color as the sky.
This morning I walked down to the shore, such as it is, now perhaps a half mile of what will eventually be salt flats – some of it dry enough to walk on, much of it not, so I can no longer go to the water’s edge without ending up up to my thighs in fish guano.
I took a photo of the ‘reflecting pool’, which when I moved here almost fifteen years ago was full of water up to the far side of that little row of vegetation in the front.
When I returned I wrote this:
Palm Springs to Yuma – not a hint of breeze,
the silence is so loud you’ll hear your heart
beat in your chest. Your breath will stop and start
as you behold the mirror Salton Sea’s
become on such a day. A piece of sky
stretched on the desert floor – cerulean rug
of knots so fine. And ’til a stop will tug
the air, that blessed earthly canopy,
and then that sea to ever deepening blue
then gray, then black with whitecapse, watch this glass
this polished surface thirty five miles vast
reflects the sky it lives under, to you.
On windless days, the Salton Sea shines most,
more than the oceans found on either coast.
This sonnet has been something of a challenge – in that it is the first poem I’ve written in over three months. Some things been going on in life that just take the stuffing out of you sometimes.
A poet friend of mine, Larry Jaffe, once wrote a poem that all poets connect with. It had no lines, just a title: “I lost another f****** poem in the shower.”
I lost a poem in the shower today –
as water flowed, it ran right from my mind.
It formed and then the liquid washed away
the verse, leaving no residue behind.
I lost a poem driving down the street –
blanking my mind, the idea began to sprout.
I listened to it, it really was quite neat
but by the time I’d parked it’d fluttered out.
And in the doctor’s waiting room one time
I couldn’t find some paper fast enough
to get it down a pen and catch the rhyme,
my turn was called, it vanished with a puff.
And I’m sure there’s many a poet that has said
They’ve lost a masterpiece, snuggled in bed.