Fourteen³ - February 2016


Sonnet XLIII - On A Distinct Lack Of Enthusiasm Or Inspiration
16th February 2016

I do not know what I’m supposed to write,
I cannot hear the voice of any muse,
I find I’m blind to inspiration’s light,
And all my thoughts, ideas and books refuse,

To give me any words or rhymes to use,
And yet this foolish project lumbers on.
The passage of the days shall not excuse
Me from this path I chose to walk upon:

I have no time to wallow, woebegone,
In dank depressions of Byronic mood,
For fourteen months I run this marathon
In steps of fourteen lines, ‘til I conclude.

I’ve thirteen days to hold this leaden pen,
Just thirteen more, before it starts again.

Sonnet XLIV - On Colds
16th February 2016

It is my custom, roughly twice a term,
To have sore head and throat, to cough and sneeze,
And play the host to some ungrateful germ;
I find that I accomplish this with ease,

By working with young vectors of disease.
I lend them books for them to take away,
I lend them all my time and expertise,
And in return, they come throughout the day,

Returning books, all soaked in smears and spray
From open coughing mouths and hands unwashed.
And though I wash my hands, eat fruit, and pray,
My system of immunity’s soon squashed.

But when it is, I’m given time to shake
The sickness off - it’s called the half-term break.

Sonnet XLV - On Socks
22nd February 2016

I thought I’d find a way that I could cope,
I thought that I’d be able not to mind,
I thought that I could rule the impulse: NOPE!
I bought some socks, on each there is defined,

The day for which its wearing is assigned.
The grip of my compulsion is too strong:
The sock to match the day I have to find;
I thought that I could fight it, I was wrong.

But I could not associate for long,
With one who wrongly matched their socks to days,
And so, I’ll join the ancient sage’s song,
And with the righteous will his chorus raise:

“The fault lies not within ourselves,” he sings,
“But in our socks, that they are underthings.”

Sonnet XLVI - On The Passenger In The Seat Next To Mine
22nd February 2016

Of all the empty seats you could select,
You somehow thought the one beside me best,
And though I tried my hardest to effect
A look half filled with anger, half depressed,

And give you every sign that I’m repressed,
To the very English centre of my heart,
You took your place, and in beside me pressed.
Doors shut, the motor revs and we depart,

And part of me appreciates the art
It takes to fill your seat, plus most of mine,
With all the arrogance of Bonaparte.
I make no comment, give no outward sign,

Except a hint of apoplectic look,
Which I direct straight down into my book.

Sonnet XLVII - On Sentiment
25th February 2016

We made you out of card and bits of string,
With carpet-tile skin and cups for feet;
A funny-looking, puppet sort of thing,
We named you Django when you were complete.

You were the nicest sort that one could meet,
Such humble parts by sentiment imbued
With simple, honest eyes and nature sweet,
And cheerfully bewildered attitude.

For seven years you managed to elude,
That final and inevitable day,
When all had frayed or bent or come unglued,
And you, with heavy heart, were thrown away.

We knew it must (but hoped it wouldn’t) end,
So rest in peace, our card-and-carpet friend.

Sonnet XLVIII - On Burgers
25th February 2016

Of all the unsophisticated foods,
I think the burger ranks among the best:
It promises a pleasure that eludes,
The most refined and valued of the rest.

The bread with grease and meaty juices dressed,
The char-grilled crumble of the patty’s grain,
This base, with every combination blessed,
Is variously able to obtain

Grilled onion sweetness, crunch of fresh romaine,
A snap of salt from bacon overdone.
Every flavour, filthy or urbane,
Which fits inside the two halves of the bun.

But if you value pleasure in your life,
Don’t dare to eat it with a fork and knife.

Sonnet XLIX - On Sluggish Mornings
26th February 2016

I slowly wake, and lift my sleep-filled eyes,
To see how often I have hit the snooze.
The warm and heavy sheet entangled lies,
From underneath I let my body ooze,

And instantly trip over castoff shoes.
I make my way downstairs and drink some tea,
Lamenting it’s too soon to start on booze,
And cursing sober sensibility.

I do not understand how I can be.
More sleepy now than when I went to bed;
I wish there was a way that I could see
To clear the dusty cobwebs from my head.

And so, with spirit dimmed by blear and murk,
I shower, dress and drag myself to work.

Sonnet L - On Formalist Poetry
28th February 2016

I don’t know why, but feel I must defend
The fact that I like rhyming poetry;
And with all those who might like to contend
That scansion’s dead, I have to disagree.

For, those who say that unrhymed verse is ‘free’
And let a lack of shape or order reign,
Forget that in the structure there can be
Necessity to strive and ascertain

More fitting words and thus a higher plane.
To balance rhyme and meter with your will,
And not to let unruly thoughts remain,
Is true poetic freedom, art and skill.

And therefore it would be a dreadful curse,
To be a prisoner trapped within free verse.

Sonnet LI - On My To-Do List
28th February 2016

I wish that I could learn to say, “I won’t…”,
“I do not want to…”, or “I don’t have time…”
For all these labours I must do, I don’t
Have any wish to do, but find that I’m

Condemned to do them anyway. My crime?
When asked to do, I always say “Alright.”
Oh, how I long to say these words sublime:
“There’s nothing that I have to do tonight.”

But no-one else is guilty of my plight
The burden of my burden’s mine to bear,
For, though in lack of duty I delight,
I make my own to add to my despair:

For every deadline that I’m made to meet,
I generate another one to beat.

Sonnet LII - On Busy Mornings
29th February 2016

The sound of my alarm cuts through a dream,
And all at once I know that I am late.
I shower in a storm of soap and steam,
Pull on some pants and hurry out the gate.

With little time to drink or hunger sate,
I grab a chocolate bar from the machine.
I hit my desk start to concentrate,
On words and numbers served upon a screen:

On emails sent, on problems unforeseen,
On fighting little fires which arise
Throughout the day, sustained by just caffeine,
So many things to start and finalise.

I find no time, ‘til almost half past two,
To sit and take my early morning poo!

Sonnet LIII - On Pessimism
29th January 2016

I don’t know why you cannot but assume,
In every case the worst will always be,
You nurture such a sense of private doom,
It speaks a self-fulfilling prophesy:

The darkest future’s all you can foresee.
But grimmest expectation weighs you down,
You live enslaved to negativity,
Beneath the waves of pessimism drown.

You see the world in black and grey and brown,
And wear the mark of sorrow on your head,
I wish that I could give a brighter crown,
To take away the wreath you wear of lead,

To sign your head with optimism’s mark,
And help you see the light inside the dark.

Sonnet LIV - On Optimism
29th February 2016

I don’t know why I cannot but assume,
In every case the best will always be,
But even in the darkness and the gloom,
I try to foster positivity.

I don’t believe that it’s naive to see,
In every situation signs of hope;
It’s not denying cold reality,
To think I’ll always find a way to cope.

You say we must through darkest valley grope,
That happiness is hopelessness to seek,
But I will raise my eyes toward the slope,
Which leads toward the light of heaven’s peak.

So even on the darkest, coldest day,
I’ll never let you take my joy away.

Sonnet LV - On Feeling My Baby Move For The First Time
29th February 2016

On summer’s eve, I stand beside a lake,
And listen to the birds sing in the trees.
The whispering leaves which grow around them quake,
Disturbed by gentle motion of the breeze.

A silver flash my eye just barely sees,
But by the time I focus it is done;
A fleeting movement - quick, distinct - a tease
Of something missed before it was begun.

I feel no movement, you feel every one,
You try to place my hand where it should go,
But by the time it gets there, I feel none
Perhaps it’s something I will never know.

A fleeting movement, then - distinct, and quick:
The feeling of a tiny baby kick.

Sonnet LVI - On A Coffee Shop’s Attitude To Tea
31st January 2016

It’s not that hard to give me tea that’s nice,
It needn’t take a bachelor’s degree,
But as you’re always wrong, here’s my advice:

  1. Assume that I want ‘English Breakfast Tea’
    For, as we are in England, THAT’S CALLED TEA!

  2. Assume that I would some milk with it,
    And just provide it automatically.

  3. A bag and boiled water, please admit
    Is not a cup of tea, it’s just a kit.

  4. And bring me porcelain: a cup of glass
    For drinking boiling liquids is unfit.

This simple test should not be hard to pass,

Once mastered, you will find within a flash,
You’ll gain my thanks, my custom and my cash.