It’s no longer accurate to call him a zygote,
because he is, after all, a 16 year old boy,
but “Zygote, 17 Years Later, Goes to Rock
Show with His Dad,” I thought, was a funny
title for a poem. For all intents and purposes,
and oddly, given that the parents who brought
him into the world are both music fans,
this will be his first authentic rock show–
something twenty or thirty years from now,
he can talk about with his friends when
they say, “what was your first concert?”
He will give a wide smile and proudly report.
I am hopeful that he will remember it.
and that neither of us will be injured in the pit.
Tag Archives: sonnet
It’s no longer accurate to call him a zygote,
(for Trisha Wick)
Twenty-four years ago I wrote a poem,
a sonnet, about the flood of ’96.
It described the six feet of river water
in my wife’s parent’s basement, that whole
devastation, and the kids and families
in the neighborhood who came to help
restore and repair the house, the home,
and hope. A student of mine, her family’s
home was flooded, too, but I didn’t know
that when I shared the poem with the class.
Later, this student brought to me a gift:
She had embroidered all fourteen lines and
framed it. In the case of emergency,
like now, art is the healing property.
Here’s the original sonnet–one that more closely follows the rules! Composed in the spring of ’96, the embroidered version was gifted to me the following spring from Tricia Wick, who I think was graduating from high school that year. She would become a teacher, too, and later, serve on my school district’s board of education!
A Sonnet After the Flood (1996)
Winter was harsh this year, and if that’s not
enough, then came the flood that washed away
our parents’ basement. It was just their lot
to find five feet of sewage in their way.
The first victim sometimes is hope itself;
they’re aging, tired, too much so to rebuild
what took three decades, an enormous wealth
of spirit, and two lively kids to fill.
But what looks like a winter of despair
turns into something else when, looking up
the driveway, they see answers to their prayers.
Children with shovels, strangers in pick-ups.
Next time we hear the talk, “Our kids are doomed,”
we’ll think of these and note how faith resumes.
You’re going to hear a real gully-whumper
right about now. If you weren’t such a gulpin
you’d have a chance of seeing right through
the gum. In my life, I have never heard such
gummation. Go ahead and pour yourself some
guinea red, loosen yourself before the gumball machine
comes down the gravel drive. Don’t give me
any of that gumfudgeon, you gummy. They’re
after you, all right. It doesn’t take a gumshoe
to figure out your under the gun, on the gun, so
you better jump the gun, ride the gun or else
get the gun sooner or later. I’d be smoking some
gungeon right about now, if I were you.
I’d guarandamntee it, I would, I would.
He says, Do you remember that song by M.? That was 1979,
I say, and I was fifteen. Talk about, he said, pop music.
That’s the only thing I remember. Yeah, the only other thing
I can remember is shooby dooby doo wop. It was a kind of,
I say, spoken word thing, a nonsensical white boy rap
thing. A cool song but that guy, or that band, just vaporized.
Right? he says. You know, if you think about the other nerd
pop gems of ’79, I say, I can think of three right off the top of my
head that were so nerdy they came out the other end the
coolest thing ever: Devo’s Are We Not Men, Gary Numan’s
The Pleasure Principle, and Talking Heads’ Fear of Music.
Those bands were nerdy as fuck–they put nerd rock on the map.
This M. guy, I say, as you nod your head vigorously, was not
authentically nerdy, was a failed nerd, a wannabe nerd.
First things first: Happy birthday, Bill! It’s been a super rough year. The loss of Bowie, Rickman et. al., and just days ago now, the devastating loss of Prince, makes one super conscious of the fragility of life, especially when our heroes fall, heroes who seemed to us untouchable and timeless, almost god-like. But now, involved as I have been over the last 8 years of my life in a close relationship with the Bard from Stratford-apon-Avon, I am reminded how great art never dies. Right, Bill? “So long as men can breathe and eyes can see,” or ears can hear, “so long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” Bowie, Rickman, and Prince are still with us and every time we spin one of their records or see one of their films,
they are very much alive and well, just as Shakespeare is still, 451 years later, alive and well.
So, to celebrate the timelessness of great art, the final performance of Romeo and Juliet, to be a good napowrimo student, and to inadequately express my gratitude for all three, I pen today a sonnet, another persona poem from Lord Capulet. I fought a great battle against adding two more syllables in that final line. Iambic pentameter wins the day.
Lord Capulet Interrogates Michael Jarmer in a Closing Night Sonnet
So what did you to me bring forth and what
did I give you? Imagine that we are
one soul: why must I hate Montague gut?
And why, dear actor friend, is this young star,
this boy Paris, of such interest to me?
And why must I insist Juliet wed?
It’s clear, we don’t need his royal money
and did I not say those too early bed
are marred? It’s true, I contradict myself.
I know, in part, I hoped to quell her grief;
instead I heaped it on. Her mental health
disturbed, distressed. So actor, please, be brief:
Your task demands that you do know me well;
What kind of father makes for daughter hell?
The suggestion for today was to write a poem consisting of nothing but questions–until the very last line, a statement. It’s a reversal of an assignment I remember from last year which resulted for me in a poem called “Six Statements and a Question.” This year, I’ve added a little edge to the task: in honor of the 14th day of the month–a sonnet!
Seven Questions and a Statement
How’s his liver holding out, dear doctor,
in terms of how much bourbon it will take?
What’s the secret to long life, or rather
Who has the perfect recipe for cake?
What happens when desire collides with need
Or need crosses a boundary to lust?
Which proclivities must a person feed
the hungry soul to ensure it’s deep trust?
At last, in the end, curiosity
having maybe killed a number of cats,
what hope destroys the kind of falsity
that deflects the best intentions from acts?
Blindly, we move in our own direction
and see clearly this one true reflection.