POETRY

sonnet.

photo by author.

gunmetal blue and grey; the clouds roll toward
the darkened city; atmospheric hush -
the only lights the gentle upper flush
on highest cloudbank, advertising boards
and scattered blinking beacons; like a chord’s
crescendo, in the storm’s approaching rush
the evening seems to pivot, broaden, crush
all other thoughts; this cannot be ignored.

you stare, await the splattering of drops,
their thrum on tin - but storms won’t be provoked,
and there’s a chance the rain will pass you by.

the clouds unfold; a yearning comes unstopped
(you’d normally prefer not getting soaked);
you raise your forehead toward the roiling sky.

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POETRY

sonnet.

photo by author.

the storm has lifted, morning skies have cleared;
below, the humid, misty street lies still;
the doom-barrage of thunderclaps that filled
our room at midnight, seizing me with fear,
has long abated; all that i now hear
are tires carving miniature rills
when sluicing through low flood-pools, and the trill
of sodden songbirds’ damp, undaunted cheer.

an hour from now, you wouldn’t know it poured,
so quickly will the sun evaporate
and parch the puddled moisture from the road -

unless you watch the trees, who’ll send a hoard
of liquid to their leaves, rejuvenate
the tender twig-tip tissues - which explode.

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POETRY

sonnet.

image: copyright-free from wikipedia.

the pines that clutch the highest mountain crest -
wind-blasted, withered, agonized and bare,
bowed low as if enfeebled by the air;
as venerable elders (forced to rest
on canes, deformed by gravity, oppressed
by time and stress) will shed their shrivelled hair,
the needles of these pines are scarcely there,
thinned out by altitude’s incessant tests.

the lowland pines are lofty, spreading, thrive
and flourish in abundant rain and soil;
the summit-pines are twisted, crabbed, and clubbed -

all outward fulgence bartered to survive
the tempest’s torture, torqued in bitter toil;
triumphant and indomitable scrub.

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POETRY

sonnet.

photo by author.

refracted lamplight quivers as the drops
of slacking drizzle pluck the puddle-streaks;
it hasn’t rained in unremitting weeks
of sun-strike. now the thickened runoff plops
and splats from branches; pot-bound urban crops
unbend, unfurling withered fronds to seek
brief saturation. sodden squirrels sneak
down power-lines; the downpour slowly stops.

the final droplet-bombs make puddles twitch;
red taillight-smudges shatter into sparks,
quick ripples flaring on the viscous street -

photonic fingers striking chords, their pitch
inaudible, their incandescent arcs
now tapering, their fluid fugue complete.

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POETRY

sonnet.

Hiroshige, The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, Rain Shower at Shōno from wikipedia.

more things should be umbrella-like; set up
collapsibly, thus quickly stowed or thrown
beneath an armpit, lightly borne alone;
as when, on hiking trips, you sit to sup
and use a mat, a kettle, and a cup
et cetera - you don’t bring bulky stone,
but bamboo, twine and tin. heft all you own,
as mother dogs will gather wayward pups -

be ready to retract, unhinge, make fast;
you never know just when you’ll need to get
to shade or shelter, run from flood or fire;

accept that most good things aren’t meant to last,
like toothpicks, parasols, or serviettes -
ephemeral as weather, or desire.

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POETRY

sonnet.

photo by author.

the alleyway, encountered on a stroll -
damp wreckage of a battle with decay;
bamboo and rusted oil-drums lashed with frayed
electric cables; food-cart stowage, bowls
on wire-hanger hooks; dustbins of coals
steam sticky rice; fresh produce is arrayed
on rain-soaked plywood; midday nappers sway
in knotted-trash-bag hammocks they’ve unrolled.

beneath the damp and crumbling plaster walls,
the artifacts these desperate people craft
show dignity, resourcefulness and grace.

an open fusebox, empty save a small
and sleeping cat; atop, as on a raft,
small figurines of deities are placed.

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POETRY

sonnet.

photo by author.

the mangy, rheumy-eyed and rawboned stray
limps sniffing toward you while you scan the map.
your choice - stay on this catwalk, feeling trapped,
or gamble on the thicket? hard to say
which path has fewer dogs, and your delay
has roused a few from their accustomed nap.
your wife storms off, her nerves and patience snapped;
you realize you’ve failed to lead the way.

corrosive burden, knowing that you might -
in spite of all your efforts to prepare -
when loved ones are in danger, hesitate;

today, the harmless dogs recede from sight,
but what you didn’t do hangs in the air;
unbearable, irrevocable weight.

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sonnet.

photo by author.

the days are shorter now. the rains have come
again; the rebar’s rusted at the site
across the street - poured concrete’s halted height
sprouts metal stubble. when resumed, will some
intrinsic flaw within this structure hum,
reverberating through the humid night,
a sign this rust is lurking - hidden blight,
an ill-formed tuning fork that jars the thumb?

the tower might be built after a pause,
but some discoloration, mark or line
of its delayed completion will remain.

the future site, unveiled to great applause,
might send the architect who sees these signs
into infinitudes of inner pain.

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POETRY

sonnet.

photo by author.

the gentle glow that gilds the upper tips
of topmost branches in the steaming dew
(young leaves, translucent, let the photons through,
suffusing treetops), light that almost drips
like ghee or honey, spreading slowly, slips
across the canopy; the world renews -
diurnal brightening of upper blue
as coffee-addicts slurp initial sips.

much later, after tumult, heat and haze,
the amber glow retreats; slow fingers cling,
reluctant lingering on branchlets’ ends;

by now the light itself seems slow and dazed,
has thickened to a weary amber. rings
of bats take flight; the light recedes, descends.

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POETRY

sonnet.

photo by author.

a leaf-strewn playground, fire-department shed -
autumnal motomachi’s quiet square
abuts the bluff; stone lanterns flanking stairs
below the shrine. distracted walking’s led
you here - at dusk, and suffering. your head
inclined, you mime a pilgrim’s claps (aware
you’re out of place, imagining the glares
of locals - foreigner’s self-conscious dread).

the awkwardness subsides; you suddenly
release a silent, anguished inner cry
on her behalf - the only time you’ve prayed,

or even close, a mute agnostic plea
for comfort from the rustling branches, sky;
heartsick, you head for home, petition made.

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