Category Archives: Sonnet
TWILIGHT’S LAST GLEAMING
Let us stroll now this empty orchard
Gone out of season and out of time
Grasp poetry, physics, the perfect rhyme*
To toast the Doctor’s magic pilchard†
A heavenly couple’s life is hard
S’not all apples, there’s sweat and grime
And groping in the dark and slime
With nothing sure left behind to guard
Cast out of the bright garden and left alone
Adam’s apple crumbles leaving merely bone
Always was a throaty tickle mainly subliminal
The doctor’s bobs in uttering the word “terminal”
In God they trust, in palliative they clutch
And this and that and so and such
* … our favourite Time Lord who had been teaching everything from poetry to physics – “they’re the same thing, same rhymes” …
† “Once, long ago, a fisherman caught a magic haddock. The haddock offered him three wishes in return for its life. The fisherman said, “I’d like for my son to come home from the war. And a hundred pieces of gold.” The problem is, the magic haddock, like robots, don’t think like people. The fisherman’s son came home from the war, in a coffin. And the king sent a hundred gold pieces in recognition of his heroic death. The fisherman had one wish left. What do you think he wished for? Some people say he should have wished for an infinite series of wishes, but if your city proves anything, it is that granting all your wishes is not a good idea. […] In fact, the fisherman wished he hadn’t wished the first two wishes.”
– The Doctor.
DRAGON FATHER WAKENS
A righteous rage bursts forth; a mighty roar
Too long coiled within its egg incubating
Sets the skies alight with livid lightning:
“No! No more! Dragon seed, prepare for war!”
A vile canker festers from shore to shore;
Views land, people just there for ravishing
Yet no amount of pillaging and killing
Can ever quench that bellowing greedy maw.
Leaves sore ears ringing, deaf to all reasoning.
Comes now a settling of accounts: a day of reckoning.
For Mother Earth has suffered for too long.
Her newly risen son sings the dragon song.
His voice rings out from shore to sea-swept shore:
“No! No more! Dragon seed, prepare for war!”
Looks like it’s not sufficient to be clever
You can still end up in the lost-and-found
You can split the scene or stand your ground
It’s been that way since forever
No rock solid link to Spirit whatsoever
None of our conjectures are too sound
You hit multilingual traps, rebound
Somersault screaming, “Never!”
Yet how to survive in a dull world while sharp
And not end up in the lost-and-found still
Whether giving in or refusing to budge?
An open verdict, an absentee judge
Endlessly replaying “The World According To Garp”
You can read on the scoreboard the result: Nil Nil
Finds it after breakfast, there on her counterpane
A folded note, a single long-stemmed rose
Rattles metaphoric dice a time or two and throws
After all, nothing to lose and everything to gain
Stands here now waiting in a leaf-strewn lane
Chosen since it’s somewhere no one ever goes
Breathes in and October’s piquancy fills her nose
Diamonds everywhere, gifts of the recent rain
A random thought arises, makes her laugh
“May they comfort me thy rod and staff”
She has been bitten before, has been stung
Shrugs it off as being part of being young
She imagines the gentle touch of his hand
Almost feels on her finger the wedding band
So still she lies, as if some shell abandoned, blear-eyed from sleep
Shipwrecked, abandoned to some soggy dotage caked in mire
Be not deceived, imagining vacuum where once was fire
Thoughts and feelings spark yet, drift dreamily, aimless, ancient, deep
Take heed, both wise and foolish souls; fair warning: t’is best to creep
Past lightly, with harnessed breath; waken not the dragon’s ire
No less than fearsome monster, prone to bouts of fey desire
Exceeding duties as guardian, this dragon now feeds on sheep
Protection for that heart of mine once long ago rudely spoiled
That dragon, turned to basilisk, has festered and gone awry
Too far too many empty nights left red-eyed the dragonfly
Wound itself tighter and tighter till inextricably coiled
A dusty heirloom, tucked away, out of sight, a feathered wing
This fragile heart, free from defence, defiant, still dares to sing
REFLECTIONS ON GOVERNMENT
From simple language much may be inferred;
America’s lust for pleasure and commotion
Like Britain’s anal culture, I’ve a notion,
Reveals itself within the very word
Used when our nations’ rulers have concurred.
Whilst here the House is said to “pass a motion”
The other side of the Atlantic Ocean
“An act of congress” is the term preferred.
But though such speculation may be fun
The world goes on as it has always done;
It’s true: “A rose by any other name
Would smell as sweet” and so we must conclude
That whether we get shat on or get screwed
The end result is pretty much the same.
THE FOUR IMMEASURABLES
Like atoms whirling in the depths of space,
Impelled by mighty forces, powerless,
Infinite beings, sparks of consciousness,
Migrating ceaselessly from place to place,
Are driven by their cravings to embrace
The pleasures they mistake for happiness,
But desire brings them only more distress;
The very pain they fear they have to face.
To think: “Their sorrows come, not from Above,
Or whim of Fate, or cruel external facts,
Or others’ malice, but from their own acts;
I wish all creatures, though unknown to me,
Freed from unskillful acts, could happy be;”
This thought is called Immeasurable Love.
A creature in his time has many lives,
And now and then in blissful heaven dwells,
But just as soon may fall into the hells
Or, demi-god, be hacked to death with knives.
Now see him as, a hungry ghost, he strives
Without success to eat the food he smells,
Or squeals among the pigs a farmer sells.
The wisdom from these sufferings he derives
Is small indeed, or so we may surmise
To see him waste his few short years on Earth
In foolish deeds that lead to fresh rebirth.
Thinking: “All creatures share this misery.
I must find out the way to set them free,”
Immeasurable Compassion will arise.
If many pass their days in lust and hate
Some make attempt in virtue to abide
But we, half of the time, blinded by pride,
Give them no praise but merely denigrate.
Others find peace that seems to be innate
While we must struggle hard against the tide
And feel ourselves to be most sorely tried.
If we begrudge their carefree, happy state
What little peace we have we will destroy.
To feel resentment at a man’s good name,
His happiness or virtue is a shame;
When envy of his virtue we disown
And greet his happiness as if our own
Then we will find Immeasurable Joy.
We say we long to leave Samsara’s game;
Why is it then that we remain attached?
Each thing we fear seems by another matched
That keeps us circling, moths about a flame.
In seeking praise, we run the risk of blame;
Our gain becomes a loss if from us snatched;
And from the want of pleasure pain is hatched,
While envy soon breeds slander out of fame.
If we think well on this we need not be
Impaled upon the horns of hopes and fears,
Aversions and desires, joys and tears;
By leaving craving and dislike behind,
And by this means alone, a man may find
This set of sonnets is a chunk of Buddhist theology which I wrote while studying Tibetan Buddhism in Northern India. Don’t begin jumping to conclusions, though. There’s more to the story. 🙂
ODE TO HELA*
Spectral poet days past and buried in the mud,
Dramasis III, Prince of Ancient Egypt,
Priest of Thoth, Devourer of the Crypt,
Floats silent unmarked rivers of blood.
Ripped down the curtains in the time of flood
In a frenzy, as flamenco pangs of separation gripped;
Repetition winging homeward as the bark was stripped:
The death of each treasure producing a new bud.
Slowly now he floats, the tide is sure;
Time’s destruction indestructibly pure;
Now is the step from your last to your first breath.
Open-handed she came, lost-legged she went,
Back to the sundered land from whence she was sent;
Hela, the Green Queen, Goddess of Death.
* Hela is a fictional character, the Asgardian goddess of death in the Marvel Comics universe, based loosely on the Norse myths of the goddess Hel.