Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sonnet for today...

Here is today's contribution to Pushkiniana. I hope it adds some lustre to his reputation. It has done nothing for mine.

[I include a few other stanzas as well, for context. Today's is the last.]

“Sweet Jesus! What’s got into you?”
I thunder to a non-existent jury,
“You stab me with steel forks out of the blue—
I promise to play Scrabble and—” And fury,
Rage crystallizing in Takaaki’s eye,
“I know when you’re mocking me.” I try
Not to reply—permit my mask to slip—
Given how I’ve destabilized his lip:
It quivers like red jello, in a mold,
Before the gelatin’s had time to set
Sufficiently. Our eyeballs briefly met
While calculating how long we could hold
Some dark profanity from bursting out.
He placed his boiled hands beneath the spout

Allowing a cascade of cold to run,
So his temper had a chance to cool.
He has a peculiar sense of fun.
Letters at sunset. If this is a duel,
Should I tease my way into his tiles—
Turn phrases, like these tiny lighted dials,
Listening for that peculiar ping
That tells me what’s inside my sonar ring
Is not a whale or school of silver fish
Darting down into the icy depths—
It is his anger, slowly sliding west,
Enveloped in the velvet dark? I wish
He hadn’t tried to lecture me before
About my Scrabble game. I abhor

Violence, like any veteran
Who knows what horrors in his heart may lurk.
But I’m American, and human, and,
Against a submarine, depth-charges work
Well—like words—if you deploy them right.
But using double-meanings in a fight
Is regulated largely by the extent
Of your technology. Intelligent
Tacticians will grade every syllable
Carefully, according to its power—
Testing terrors, safely, in the shower,
Walking, waking, working—if capable—
When stepping from his skivvies to make love.
I draw the line at—this is getting rough.

Love’s not a game for gentlemen, like cricket;
It's more like dominoes with rubble. War
Is our closest analogy. I pick it
Because war has no ceiling, now, no floor—
No boundaries. No limits. Not the sky,
The stars, the earth, the sea. The tear-filled eye—
So useful in the writing of romance—
Is like the language—wine and cheese—of France:
A luxury. Like poetry. Like pity—
Whose demotion to superfluous emotion
Occurred among the corpses of World War I—
Not above New York—not this city—
Synonymous with cruelty—concrete.
With love and war: it's lather, rinse, repeat.

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