#461: My teacher Parker J. Palmer wrote or said . . .

Today’s sonnet breaches perhaps the one GOLDEN RULE of sonnet making. It’s 15 lines long. Three quatrains and a tercet! I was feeling rather naughty, although, I am nearly 100% sure that I am not the first one to write a thing that’s not 14 lines long and call it a sonnet. I don’t know what the consensus out there might be, but in my book anything longer than 16 lines I’d have a hard time calling a sonnet. It’s kind of a dumb thing to talk about or argue about–except for the fact that there is something important about calling a thing by its actual name and coming to an agreement about what makes a thing what it is. I’d be given all kinds of sideways glances, for example, if I held up an orange and called it an apple. What if I wrote a ten line haiku? I’d be excommunicated. So, I’m stepping over the line today just a little bit. 10 more poems. 10 more sonnets. The final stretch.


My teacher Parker J. Palmer wrote or said, 
Speak only if you can improve upon
The silence. Most words are unnecessary,
spoken, and most people talk too much. 
Listening is the new talking, but with bonuses,
Like awareness, like getting out of the way
So that others can be in the world and hear
Themselves listening. It’s all about the ears.
Some sacred language has been co-opted
By staff development. I never did like it. 
I appreciate the intimacy of a crowd but
Don’t you dare pass around a talking stick.
Can we please just be quiet together? 
Silence is not the absence of sound, but
A space without voices, like the weather.  

Published by michaeljarmer

I'm a public high school English teacher, fiction writer, poet, and musician in Portland, Oregon

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