WD Poetic Form Challenge: Sonnet

I expect this challenge to be super competitive, challenging and fun! After all, the sonnet is one of the more popular and flexible forms available to English-writing poets.

Click here if you’re unsure how to write a sonnet. (It’s basically just a 14-line poem with a flexible rhyme scheme. There’s a general rule of thumb for meter, but I’ll let you know right now that I won’t be scanning lines.)

As in previous challenges, the poet who writes the sonnet that I like best will be featured in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine (the July/August issue to be precise). Poets should paste their sonnets in the comments below; I will not accept submissions by any other means.

Click here to read the general rules for the WD Poetic Form Challenge.

The deadline for the sonnet challenge is March 10, 2011. That means you have roughly 41 days to turn around 14 lines of poetic brilliance. You can do it!


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121 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Sonnet

  1. Jennifer Dotson

    A Sonnet for Lost Glasses

    How do you suppose I lost my glasses?
    To make it even worse, gone are my spare.
    Now street signs appear as blurry masses.
    Please believe me, I have looked everywhere.
    A shrink might think I do not wish to see
    a thing within my current circumstances.
    My losing lenses automatically
    restricts the scope of all my glances.
    Should I seek meaning in my fractured sight
    or is it merely absentmindedness?
    I will blame this on a meddlesome sprite
    and vow to nevermore be so careless.
    Still, dear, I do desire your permission
    to focus on our love, not my vision.

    * * *

    Fun contest and several marvelous submissions!


  2. Connie L. Peters

    The Boat

    The carpenter gazed with alert brown eyes,
    at tools placed neatly on the cabinet top.
    The saw blade cut rough cedar the right size
    as whirs and thumping sounded from his shop.

    He gripped the handle of the crude bronze plane
    to steadily grind the wood till it shone,
    rotated each strong plank to match the grain,
    angled the gleaming wood as red as roan.

    He pounded with thick nails each plank in place,
    water-resistant pitch to make it float,
    and fashioned two long oars with skill and grace,
    then took it to a lake, calm and remote.

    It functioned as a place from which to preach.
    Despite darkening clouds, Jesus liked to teach

  3. Rachel Hoffman

    When the end has come and gone, I will sway
    with chickadees in the windy courtyard,
    who bob on trees like buoys in the bay
    as winter shyly starts to drop its guard.

    I’ll help clouds shift to new amorphous forms
    and drift along and pass the buildings by;
    feel porcelain crack during rainstorms
    as thunder shivers seams along the sky.

    I’ll tumble down a cold cobblestone well,
    a shaft of life in dirt that holds the dead,
    and, once inside, I’ll make the earth my shell
    and hide from words I wish I would have said,

    and rush back out and let the fever go.
    My ashes follow where the breezes blow.

  4. Janet Rice Carnahan


    What do I love that feels like rain?
    That touches me so peacefully true.
    Caressing me, eliminating pain,
    Like a presence with nothing to do.

    What can I feel that eases my heart?
    Bringing relief, awakening inner truth!
    Like a soothing, comforting art,
    A nurturing smile, remembered from youth.

    What can I hold for long enough?
    Ushering in the calm and deep acceptance!
    Clearing out any excessive stuff,
    Reassuring and confirming my daily stance!

    Ah, as I embrace it, it is like light.
    I receive Love, like the sun shining through the night.

  5. Cheryl Chamberlain

    The Dance of a Sonnet

    Oh, to write that fourteen line Sonnet,
    Having just the right talent, revered as Petrarca or Shakespeare,
    The tempo is pounding and the words are swirling, deep inside my bonnet,
    Perfecting the tempo and words, trying not to interfere;
    To tell of love and or life,
    With compassion and emotion,
    With all the glory and or strife,
    Avoiding too much, that sometimes leads to commotion.
    The words may be simple and strong,
    Words with meaning impact and power,
    Aware of combinations, that may be complex and too long,
    Leaving the reader confused, wanting to cringe or cower.
    The verses are of beauty, expected form and shape, so much like a lover,
    To be exposed, enjoyed and void of cover.

  6. Karen Legg

    Watching You Walk Away

    Moon is to wane as tide is to ebb;
    lessening brings dread, belief
    that the loss will be endless
    that dwindling leads to death,

    to death alone. We have no proof
    and we are not good with hope
    and when we lie to ourselves we know
    just what we are doing. But listen:

    the tide turns back in only a day;
    the moon in a month. Leaf and bud,
    snow and swallow, even the dog star
    chases the new year into the winter sky.

    Wane if you will, ebb if you must. I
    will set aside both worthless dread and lie.

  7. Jessica


    Silent eyes gleaming through the shadowed black
    Fingertips reaching for the warmth of mine
    My dark soul desperate for whom thou I lack
    Blindly seeking truth for that which divine

    Grace has yet to wander inside my heart
    All encompassing love is never near
    Hope fades away like brilliant works of art
    Arms needed to protect me from my fear

    For the sweet taste of love oh I do yearn
    Pairs of eyes finally meet, I melt
    Enveloped in love’s sweet comfort, I’ve learned
    Swirling despair is not the hand I’m dealt

    A life immortal are what choices make
    My heart at peace, no more a writhing snake

  8. Laura Heidy-Halberstein

    Estate Sale

    Although you’re not yet dead we rifle through
    your closets and your drawers. We creep into
    the crawl, we climb the attic stairs, we brush
    ghost dust from books; find camisoles once lush
    with lace and latched hook to eye, eye to hook.

    We spy a braid of faded blonde, and look!
    A half-full flask is stashed beneath your wedding gown.
    Whose masks are these? Whose ivory circus clown?
    Who wrote the letters never sent or signed?
    And why are we, your daughters, so resigned

    to never knowing who you were or why
    you left this task to us? We do not try
    to suss you out. We sniff the flask; we drain
    it dry. We sell your treasures in the rain.

  9. Alice Wolf Gilborn

    Vermont Still Life

    When darling buds of May have grown and blown
    When summer houses empty out of Jerseyites
    When fall’s exhibit fades like EKTachrome
    And septuagenarians to Florida take flight;

    When sun draws up the blanket, drops the shade
    When it’s getting dark at noon, or so it seems
    And the mercury’s stuck at zero, won’t be swayed
    And the snowplow like a tank invades your dreams

    Then one must turn to art for solace and escape
    Study the latent power of a doorway broom
    Admire the symmetry of flies on sticky tape
    Thrill to snow’s sonata sliding from the roof;

    And savor the aroma of snowmobiles at play.
    A bouquet for the spirit this winter day.

    Alice Wolf Gilborn

  10. Alice Gilborn

    Here in these Mountains

    Here in these gentle mountains time will change
    The flight of geese; maples hang their crimson flags,
    A tardy dawn and early dusk do not seem strange
    As September slips toward fall and summer lags.

    In this halfway season light is richer for being less
    Gilding trees, lakes, the hilltop where you stand
    And all who gather here; its warmth will bless
    Your lives, your union forged in verdant land.

    Adirondacks, Rockies, Greens, each high place
    You know and will return, to nurture hope, trust
    Love’s lexicon, marriage’s resilient grace
    Here your sun will linger, here no winter gust.

    So on your wedding day may dusk retreat
    And fallen leaves be gold beneath your feet.

    Alice Wolf Gilborn

  11. ann malaspina


    The snow and slush have hardened into ice.
    Noon’s light is pale and night is black as coal.
    Winter’s grip twists tight, an arctic vice.
    Heat slips out the windows of our souls.
    A barn owl sails the backyard fence.
    Red fox wanders blithely through the trees.
    Your hands are stiff; my back and mind, so tense.
    If fox and owl survive, then why can’t we?
    In town, we see a tower, glistening white.
    They say a man is living in the snow;
    An igloo with a cave that’s full of light.
    We walk by twice to see if it is so.
    He sits cross-legged, deep inside the mound.
    He laughs out loud; a warm, spring sound.

  12. Taylor Graham

    on a line by Longfellow

    At rest in all this moving up and down –
    but not at rest, of course. How could a clock
    stand still, when the rest of history marches
    from peace to war, restless for dominion?

    Rouen rests beside the Seine, casts shadows
    of her spires on water that never rests,
    running to sea. Restive as England’s king
    who laid hard-wrested siege here – seven months,

    the people ate horses, dogs, mice; the rest
    to the rats who never rest, but devour
    what’s left. And here Joan of Arc came to rest,
    if you can call it rest. The shrieking flames

    of human-kind. It’s late. Rest in sleep.
    The Great Clock chimes its restless, timeless deep.

  13. Taylor Graham


    Never a fashion-plate, in fact you own
    one coat, one hat, just one of anything.
    Your hair blows wild as hayfields overgrown,
    or branches reaching out for birds that sing.

    Your empty hands callused with poor-man’s dirt
    and your brow so worry-furrowed – you think
    too much. A lady passes; you won’t flirt
    or tell her pretty flowered lies, or wink.

    But I’ll be seeing you in history books,
    no matter what the town says: dreamer who
    could hear strange languages in babbling brooks,
    and never has a penny. Yes, that’s you.

    It’s true, what everyone in this town said.
    No coin but what earns interest in your head.

  14. Michael Grove

    In The Ray

    Don’t just get there, be there, seed for learning.
    There are two forces working every day.
    Different are where we are and where we’re yearning.
    Brought closer, separated, in The Ray.

    Peaceful understanding kindly practiced.
    Openmindedness to help us grow.
    New ideas gathered, farmed, deeply fished.
    Could it be more of what we seek than what we know?

    The promised greener pastures have been seeded,
    And watered caringly as best they can.
    Sent there at the time when they were needed.
    Bound for Glory, bound and gagged, bound to happen…

    some One stepped up and put you in your place.
    Clearly an exhibition of the Grace.

    In The Ray
    By Michael Grove
    Copyright 2/12/2011

  15. Duncan Gillies MacLaurin

    Mum’s the Word

    Mum told us if we saw a wasp to stay
    quite still. So when one chose to be my guest
    and crawl around my face, I did my best,
    lips closed. My sisters thrilled at my display
    of courage. Once the wasp had flown away,
    Mum oohed and ahed; she too had been impressed.
    The message was: do nothing, come what may!
    The incident was quickly laid to rest.
    Later, one of us upset a nest
    of bees, and Barbie, eager to obey,
    stood quite still. She didn’t dare protest
    at being stung. Would she be here today
    had Mum not come at Manda’s shrill request?
    Kids tend to do exactly what you say.

  16. Justine Hemmestad

    Sonnet of mourning

    Clutching my locket of jet for the life of you, my black dress like grace aflow,
    None can come near me and none have tried, for I live my life in wretched hue.
    My heart is bleeding and under a starving curse for the sweet burst of my soul,
    Haunted I am, by day and by night; my heart and my soul reach out for you.
    My thoughts in the grave with you grow cold, a dead weight they sink beyond,
    No reason or awareness lingers here, only memory that haunts ghostly and real.
    I fear no one alive, for if you are dead I am dead; I am only despond,
    I am intertwined with you, strengthened by the separation in love’s zeal.
    There is a thin veil between our two planes of being – meager, sheer and serene,
    I taste you in the air, and in it, the poignant flavor of longing and heartache,
    Do not ever leave me my love, regardless of how haunted I linger in between,
    I cannot be torn from your grave, my fingers yearn for you, do not forsake.
    For your breath is in me; my heart melts into these shadows and buildings,
    I’ll go through time and torture to seek you, my most sacred of cherished blessings.

  17. Daniel Ari

    "An inversion"

    The first ephemeral silks. Dawn’s mind sparks.
    How we form like concentrations of smoke.
    Trace our presence back to the wisps of worlds:
    we split into egg and sperm, and those cells
    divide into proteins that reach backward
    through time-states, coalesce as baby chicks,

    carrot seeds, soil and immaterial
    elements. Our trailing tails, too, split off
    into rain and thought and motorcycles.
    One of these days, I’ll drink my last coffee;

    therefore, in the morning, my self is smoke.
    The dog wakes and licks away the humor
    of my dreams. The world puts on its thickness.
    But I never lose this sense that I wear.


    PS: You can watch a "prezi" of this poem at the link.

  18. Gail White


    So time went by and they were middle-aged,
    which seemed a crazy joke that time had played
    on two young lovers. They were newly caged
    canary birds – amused, not yet afraid.

    A golden anniversary came around
    where toasts were made and laughing stories told.
    The lovers joined the laugh, although they found
    the joke – but not themselves – was growing old.

    She started losing and forgetting things.
    Where had she left her book, put down her comb?
    Her thoughts were like balloons with broken strings.

    Daily he visited the nursing home
    to make her smile and keep her in their game.
    Death came at last. But old age never came.

    Gail White
    Breaus Bridge, LA

  19. Claudia Schönfeld

    a sommer-song decade

    soft wrinkled forehead as you play the flute
    and colored landscapes peeled of misty shade
    while contours of gray shacks and alleys fade,
    the noise of busy city life drops mute,
    you guide me – on the undiscovered route.
    we stride towards a stranger’s land and trade
    all that was ours, a summer-song decade 
    descends in circles, circles from the root

    how can you play approaching nights away?
    soft flavored sound will patch the present dark,
    exploring foreign lands without a coat
    and enter empty roads left to decay,
    ships full of spices calling to embark
    towards the south, the south we slowly float.

    –Claudia Schönfeld

    (an Italian Petrarchan Sonnet)

  20. Eliza Jane Gomez


    Just when the night begins to slip away,
    I turn, awaken, begging for it to stay
    awhile longer, in the dark with me.Stay.
    Please! Stay—just smooth my fears away.

    Just when the sun emerges from the sea,
    Chasing remnants of the night into
    gone. Watch dewy leaves crispen to me,
    Reach out, shake off their sleep at my window.

    Just when the dawn paints colors of the sky
    by number, streaking ribbons, through the clouds
    by day, by night, and even in my dreams.
    So pretty, so simple, yet nothing’s as it seems.

    I have my path, I take it day by day.
    I’ll live to make my dreams real, come what may.

    Written by Eliza Jane Farley Gomez
    Friday, February 11, 2011

  21. Timmothy Holt

    I posted erlier but I must have made a mistake for I did not see it. Your site inspires me to write.


    Listen, over there is that a robin I hear
    imitating times remembered I fear.
    On the pussy willow a bud I sigh
    no memories resting within my eye.

    A scent of honey suckle in the air
    or a fragrance I flirted with somewhere.
    Tell me that’s not a crocus in the snow
    budding next to where the tulips will grow

    or, is it a cruel play of the light
    on a barren ground still covered with white.
    Isn’t the sun a little warmer today,
    coming closer to the North I would say.

    Then overhead victoriously, geese I hear
    easing my fear, spring will return this year.

  22. Kathryn Hinds


    Most look upon this day as April Fools’:
    a time of playing with accepted rules,
    of slapstick pranks, trickery, and jokes–
    but you and I, my love, are not most folks.
    Convenience–little more–led us to choose
    this day to wed twelve years ago. And who’s
    unable to resist the chance to gibe
    us for our foolishness as we imbibe
    our yearly toast? Not I. We might as well
    have married wearing motley, cap, and bells.
    Foolish to trust ourselves to love alone,
    these years of dreams balanced close to bone
    have proved us. Yet loving has remained our will,
    so we two grateful fools are married still.

    –Kathryn Hinds

  23. Kathryn Hinds

    Tax Day

    Deductions done and forms sent in, we try
    not thinking of the numbers, but they spin
    and flaunt their ciphers, teasingly unwind
    their spectacle of payment plans. We squint
    and frown ahead into ensuing months
    and calculate percentages and debt—
    and doubt our work will ever yield enough
    for attainment of our poor, banausic quest:
    To make ends meet; to get ahead. To owe
    no one. To do our share. To simply live. . . .
    We breathe, and look: outside it’s spring. We’ll sow
    our souls with blooms, plenty to share, and thrive
    on scent of lilacs, violets spangling our way:
    We will not tax the pleasures of this day.

    –Kathryn Hinds

  24. Travis Livingston


    Smell the sweet rose in the afternoon sun,
    It smells so good, its tantalizing scent.
    Reminds me of you and all the fun
    We had together and what it truly meant.
    Smell the evening air, the soft rain,
    Wet pavement, and soft soaked hair tonight.
    Your hair runs down your neck like a horses mane,
    Our love is a set course and is in flight.
    Smell the night’s fog; watch its deadly curse
    Run over your body and around your back.
    Your touch is sensitive, eager and like a nurse,
    Stay with me, ignore the night, I won’t slack.
    Smell the young love blend in midnights air,
    Smell the morning air as I brush your chestnut hair.

  25. Eliza Jane Gomez


    One of these days you’ll read me on the page
    one morning, wonder how it is I seem
    to share feelings so freely, and un-cage
    those inner monologues of deferred dream.

    One of these days you’ll hear me in your ear
    melodizing memories, humming lull-a-byes,
    unstick self from "been-there- done-that" career,
    exploring nooks, feel crannies with closed eyes.

    One of these days you’ll smell me in a room
    and wonder if I taste of sunshine through
    just after a shower falls mid- afternoon,
    soaking up possibilities of "we," too.

    How or when those days will actually be
    remains all part of the fun–life’s mystery.

  26. Kate Sherrod

    One thousand twenty six of these I’ve done
    O’er at my blog. Can I write any more?
    Apparently, I can, for it’s still fun
    For me, if not for you — if it’s a bore
    You’ll tell me, won’t you? E’er the world presents
    New subjects and new stories. I can’t stop
    This sonnet-writing. It makes little sense
    To try. Each day I’ve done one, though I swap
    That form for villanelles and, now and then
    Sestinas, it’s to sonnets I return,
    E’en though I’d vowed to move on, I again
    Slip into Shakespeare’s shoes (I’ve yet to earn
    That right, I know, but practice, if it makes
    Me better, well, perhaps I’ve what it takes).

  27. Bruce Niedt

    Friendship House

    This was where we talked as intimates,
    With cups of tea and overstuffed green chairs,
    A place our hearts could find a perfect fit,
    Before it fell into this disrepair.
    The windows cracked, the roof more like a sieve,
    The threadbare cushions, peeling paint in fade,
    The crumbled brick, the walls about to give,
    A derelict old house in weedy glade.
    What happened would depend on point of view.
    No handyman could make this structure sound.
    The fault was mine, I think, it wasn’t you.
    This building will soon tumble to the ground.
    It’s past the time of any need to grieve -–
    Be sure to turn the lights out when you leave.

  28. Bruce Niedt

    A Love Sonnet

    Well, they finally took away your kid –
    Yeah, I know, it breaks your fatherly heart,
    But reconsider what it is you did:
    There’s no one now to render us apart.
    Just you and me, babe, all this time to kill –
    I lie down for you; you can suck me up.
    A life of impulse, hedonistic thrills –
    Your body craves me; let me come corrupt.
    Give me a month – he’ll be a memory
    That fades beneath a sweet and cooked-up haze.
    Now I’m your lover, I’m your family,
    To warm your nights and push you through your days.
    He’s in good hands, just shake him from your head;
    I’ll kiss your veins until the day you’re dead.

  29. Laurie Kolp

    I Am the Sea

    The water’s edge laps rhythmic solitude
    Enticing waves, the arms that call me in;
    I drown in bitter sorrow from this feud,
    Then like a buoy pop up once again.
    Rejuvenating tides this cycle bears,
    My fingers slap calm water freshening.
    Hypnotic reverie from ocean’s prayers;
    A dolphin diving up and down, I sing.
    Am I insane to dream myself to shore?
    To think white castles hold the golden key?
    Each time a current pulls me to the floor,
    An inspiration molds my destiny.
    I am the sea, I write to fill this hole;
    No storm or wind will crush my hungry soul.

  30. Margaret Fieland

    Faded Glory

    Faded glory, darkest night,
    struggle through a raging fire.
    Wounded, dying men run by
    to seek a light that doesn’t shine.

    Faded glory, worn-out joy
    dreary days of endless toil
    heavy weight of unshed tears
    burdens all hold most dear.

    Faded glory, spoils of strife,
    left to those of us alive.
    Charcoal clouds of shadowed woe
    over gray, untraveled roads.

    I lift my face to glowing gleams.
    My tears at last begin to flow.

  31. Mel Goldberg


    I found a love in spring, innocent youth,
    When buds appeared, and all the world was new.
    The brown-grey doves returned. White clouds, sky blue
    Were everywhere, and all I said was truth.

    I found a love in summer, thoughtful love,
    Well rooted in the past of common ties.
    But then I learned that history was lies
    Of empty days. I could not find the doves.

    I found a love in autumn, overflowed
    With red and gold and rust. My senses thrilled
    Again to cooing doves. My days fulfilled,
    Prodigal, reaping what I had not sowed.

    In every time, I cast my lot for love.
    It’s all we have on earth and all above

  32. Gail Denham


    Is there a face more dear than one you love
    The tiny child with wide and toothless grin
    Small spawn of heaven, bright and precious dove
    This wingless angel, sent your heart to win

    Yet wait, what dangers face this feckless child
    Sickness, accidents, and fear
    Grip our hearts, taunt us, never mild
    Our anxious thoughts so frightful near

    Abated some, we slowly ease our grip
    Allow the joy and fun to freely bloom
    In life, it’s often tiny sips
    That cast the fears aside and offer room

    Slow progress parents make, embracing trust
    Yet, open hands we proffer,as we must

  33. Andrew Kreider

    The lathe of memory

    We do not always realize just what
    The lathe of memory is sharpening
    Until we feel the unexpected sting
    Of sudden recollection start to cut
    The tissue of oblivion. We shut
    Our hardest passages away, then cling
    To safer narratives, but lessening
    Our being will not pull us from that rut.
    Instead, when long-forgotten shades arise
    In tandem with a sudden scent or sound,
    We should salute these keepers of what lies
    Rough hidden in the deeply harrowed ground
    That is the soul. Such moments make us wise,
    For through old pain, new healing can be found.

  34. Andrew Kreider

    Thanks for the excellent Vogon sonnet, Bruce. Sometimes before doing a reading, I imagine that Arthur and Ford are chained in front of me, cowering in anguished terror. Does wonders for bringing perspective to an evening!

  35. Daniel Ari

    "Nate reaches an understanding"

    “Now at least she knows the answer.” Nathan
    for weeks dropped into philosophical
    silences following visits to Gran.
    He saved his sparkle for the hospital,
    but each time the parking toll arm lifted,
    he would give voice to the deepest riddle:
    “Where will Gran go?” “Nobody knows,” I said
    thinking, “Adults learn not to ask. Soon you’ll
    grow into some unsaid consolation.”
    Seven days later, his mother’s mother
    let go of her final exhalation.
    I held my wife, watched my son. “The answer—
    now she knows.” Nathan’s spirit does its math,
    reconciling states of heaven and earth.


  36. Margaret Fieland

    What I Did This Morning

    Rising sun peeks in, a bolt
    right in our eyes, gives us a jolt

    where we’re sleeping on the couch,
    heads and bodies one big "ouch".

    Cat jumps on my stomach, kneads
    its claws on my bare leg, which bleeds.

    What the blazes were we thinking,
    when we lingered, laughing, drinking

    three whole bottle of red wine,
    though they tasted mighty fine.

    I rise, and treading very softly
    calmly measure morning coffee,

    in hopes the drifting French roast smell
    helps to wake you up as well.

  37. Bruce Niedt

    Sonnet from the Porch with Geese

    Stepping into ringing cold, out my front
    door, sky frigid blue faded down to white,
    ears assailed by bleating honks in ice-blunt
    air, I look up at twenty geese in flight.
    In this thin dusk, they draw a crooked line
    that comes to a point, compass-arrow south
    and I remember, solstice now is nine
    days old – yet they’re here, escaping a mouth
    of snow and frost, winged procrastinators
    orienting toward a warmer clime,
    led, as always, by a navigator,
    like his fellows, a bit behind his time.

    Godspeed, I wish them on their wintry run,
    returning to my house and things undone.

  38. Bruce Niedt

    Just for fun (you "Hitchhiker’s Guide" fans will especially en;joy it):

    Vogon Love Sonnet

    O Tungixa, fairest in ten parsecs,
    I worshipped your three huge burgelbesnooks,
    all the better to have hyperwarp sex,
    if you’d just have me as your "mookie-wooks".
    Your eyes the color of moldy flunx-fern,
    your head growths, dripping, pungent and slimy,
    my head did a three-sixty-degree turn
    when your pseudopod walked that way – blimey!

    But alas, romance is not in the stars,
    and you will never hug my tulgeous girth,
    even though for you I’d have blown up Mars
    (you knew what I’ve already done to Earth).
    For you were eaten by the Beast of Greech,
    and all they could save was half of your spleech.

  39. Bruce Niedt

    Schlemiel’s Sonnet

    How do you love me? You can count the ways
    but please don’t bother – I’m not worthy of
    your time. Did you forget the many days
    I was insensitive? How can you love
    a lout like me without a shred of tact?
    I forget birthdays, anniversaries,
    I don’t pick up the dinner check – in fact,
    I am a selfish, stingy bastard. Please,
    don’t paint me as a gentle, caring lover –
    it makes you look so bad when people meet me.
    I start to talk, and then I blow your cover.
    “Poor dear,” they say to you, and want to beat me.
    But then I guess it’s true, that “love is blind” –
    if you should stick around, I wouldn’t mind.

  40. Mel Goldberg

    (Sonnet based on Fredrick Remington’s
    1900 Oil “Coming and Going of the Pony Express”)

    You saw the poster and you never frowned.
    When asked, “Are you an orphan?” You said, “True.
    I’m young and thin and wiry. Ride fast, too.
    I’ll fly past camps – a ghost without a sound.”
    Now you spring from the saddle, jump to the ground,
    To another horse, ready, waiting for you.
    Then off in dust without a backward view,
    From Gothenburg to Ogallala bound.

    Like you, I ride into futures unknown,
    Carrying bags from somewhere in my past.
    Like you I speed onward in headlong flight,
    To travel over unnamed roads alone.
    I never think which day will be my last,
    In blindly moving forward day and night.

  41. Bruce Niedt

    Kiss and Ride

    We pull into the designated space
    as commuters rush about while juggling
    Starbucks cups and laptops, or rummaging
    in pockets for their change. The morning race
    outside our window blurs, slows down a pace
    as we kiss goodbye – no time for hugging,
    much less for longer, deeper snogging,
    but it’s enough before we join the chase.

    So as you ride a steady stream of rails
    and I plunge into whitewater traffic,
    this benediction sends us on our way.
    The kiss seems so routine, and yet it seals
    our connection like a favorite music,
    punctuates our first paragraph today.

  42. Emily H.

    Wastin’ Away
    It goes down smooth as we wind through long lines
    and flip flops, parrotheads all in a row
    engulfed in tiki-hut tequila shows
    of booze and buzz and margarita shrines.
    Another round but this time I decline
    ‘cause someone surely needs to take it slow,
    lord knows he won’t. He never does. And so
    I smile — He smiles — We shout as stage lights shine.
    There’s no stoppin’ him now. His drink goes up
    while Jimmy sings about his own damn fault
    and salt, screwin’, burgers, oysters and pearls.
    The amber liquid beckons from the cup
    and I am parched. Without a second thought
    I tip it back like daddy’s little girl.

  43. Bruce Niedt

    Snow Day

    We’ve set a record for the season’s snow,
    and it’s just four days until Valentine’s.
    The winter still has five more weeks to go
    Before we’ll even see spring’s warming signs.
    But snow days are a consolation prize
    and these we should take full advantage of;
    so while the blizzard whips away outside
    let’s lock the door and weather-seal our love.
    While buried in our favorite blanket’s drifts,
    I’ll shovel you up where my arms await,
    and while in windows snow will blow and sift,
    inside tonight, our love accumulates
    to close all roads and schools and offices,
    and everything outside the warmth of us.

  44. Taylor Graham

    Maria Elena, thanks for the prompting.


    A place of worship wrecked by sword and sledge.
    Age-old story. Tell me again, which war?
    Religion’s. Call it legend, myth, or lore;
    faith, dogma, creed, or ceremony; hedge
    against mortality. Torch, slash, and dredge
    in God’s sweet name. Humanity? A door
    the righteous wedge to lock Forevermore.
    This broken stairway to a fearsome ledge
    where gargoyles overlook the market square.
    An old man crippled in the war begs bread.
    A widow mumbles blessings to the Lord,
    the Prince of Peace. On crumbs and empty air
    sparrows survive. Where was it ever read
    that faith lies down in peace with a drawn sword?

  45. Mel Goldberg

    (Sonnet based on Maxfield Parrish’s
    1922 oil painting “Romance”)

    When sunrise in our land washes the hills
    Painting the depths in yellow, brown, and gold,
    Your stroll beside the pond fulfills
    The ancient oracle. I should be bold,
    Not let you walk away from one who loves you.
    I ache to be the flower in your hand,
    Moistened with your kiss and morning dew.
    I will one day be king of all this land,
    Will you then be my queen? These castle walls,
    In the harsh mountain’s craggy arms held fast
    Cry for your pure heart’s innocence. Heed the calls
    Echoing through each hall from first to last.
    O clutch me, like that flower, to your breast.
    Complete the prophecy, thus our land be blessed.

  46. Margaret Fieland

    Poetry Prescription
    by Margaret Fieland

    A poem a day’s how I find my prescription
    To keep the mind agile, write lovely description
    of sunshine and shadow and fast falling rain
    of bathtubs with water that swirl down the drain

    of why I hate winter and shoveling snow
    that mounds into mountains with nowhere to go
    of making up fires that always die down
    of getting more wood when there’s snow on the ground

    of tasting a snowflake that falls on your tongue
    of watching your dog catch the ball that you’ve flung
    and running in circles, so full of delight,
    that you’re left feeling good for the rest of the night.

    I read one or write one at least once a day.
    A poem a day keeps the doctor away.


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