I never set out to write a sonnet. I just look up, count, and lo and behold. William Matthews once told me that the lyric poem wants to shut down at 24 or 36 lines. Maybe that applies to 14 as well.
Long Love Sonnet
We felt anemic sometimes
among all the red-blooded
romances of younger friends,
and ours just the same
after all these years.
Now, as you lay in the hospital bed,
their passions, acetylene hot
at first, have grown cold,
and the seams they welded
groan, while our wedded love,
sick and old, banks in affliction,
still glows warm like embers
beneath our failing flesh,
our ashen hair.
God is not big; He is right.
—“On a Church Lawn,” William Stafford
Whatever runs this universe
of matter delights in how
small things matter, how
the wave of a butterfly’s wing
fans the far typhoon,
how a word, gesture, kiss,
or sigh can bloom, billow
like those thunderstorms over
the ocean in the afternoon
that darken and congeal into lightning,
burst and fall, only to be called
back as vapor, which is, after all,
just rain and river, lake and sea
still too small to see.
The coughing in the room would make you think
you'd strayed into a TB ward or war;
I bet some wastrel spread this plague through drink
and coughed on all the glasses in the bar.
Why don't these people have consideration
and not afflict us healthy with their blight;
I wish they'd make a stab at sanitation
and keep their fluids out of sound and sight.
Everywhere I go they're spewing, hacking,
they load and lob their germy phlegm at me,
the enemy's on every side attacking
with poison gas and radioactivity.
If all would keep their illnesses indoors,
there'd be no more infirmities—or wars.
I was a child again.
In the park a girl
with blond hair watched only
me. I could tell she loved me.
Dream children are lamed so
they can't follow you home,
but I got lost, ankles in
sawdust when the barker stopped me, towering
above, pointing to the tent side painted
with the giraffe people, the woman rose
tattooed, then the green tiny
earth in a blue pond circled by some
kind of blond bird on a string. Blood
red caption: Mandolin Music in Space!
You flew my kite. Blood
red silk formed a rose,
the green stem a tail.
It nodded in the wind all day,
a lily tethered in a stream
I watched until dark when
passion made us grow: lying
in grass we strained lips, limbs like
giraffes for leaves, twined
a tower on the hill. Silence
haunted this desire,
though ghosts, wind, and the wings
of birds whispered.
© 2017 William Greenway
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -FF