Fourteen³ - October 2016

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Sonnet CLXIX - On My (Lack Of Any Kind Of) Writing Habit
7th November 2016

A year of sonnets passed since I began:
In fourteen fourteen pentametric feet
I wrote the good, the bad, the bittersweet,
The record of an ordinary man.
When I was starting out I had no plan,
But hoped pursuit of this poetic feat,
Would have yielded, when it was complete,
A daily writing habit, rather than

A drought of writing followed by a fit
Of half-baked rhymes chaotically composed,
As each month hurtled to its final day.
With two months left, it’s best that I admit
That everything I’ve done has just exposed
The fact that I shall always write this way.


Sonnet CLXX - On Travelling Home After A Job Interview
10th November 2016

I did my best. It’s all that I can do.
And all I had was put into that day,
But in the aftermath, I come away,
And cannot help but see in shades of blue.
From where I stand, it seems the only view,
Is all the bad I wish I could unsay,
And all the good that I could not convey,
Or said, but think that they might misconstrue.

And even if the best should come to pass,
And they saw past the rambling and fear,
And somehow some potential was perceived,
For now, I only see an empty glass,
A road ahead, uneven and unclear,
A future where hope’s humbled, unachieved.


Sonnet CLXXI - On Belief
10th November 2016

I trust in God the Father; God the Son,
Who lived to teach and heal and weep and die,
And three days hence was raised to God on high;
In God the Spirit, by whom all is done;
In one in three which is the three in one;
In fellowship with those I’m walking by;
In sacred symbols, what they signify,
And hope of rest when all the race is run.

Within my heart it is the aching whole,
It is the healing marrow in my bones,
And even on the farthest shores of grief,
Beyond all earthly power to console,
I say my prayers and curse the silent stones,
And fall on faith that’s far beyond belief.


Sonnet CLXXII - On Remembrance Day
11th November 2016

We live in light their death in darkness cast:
The heavy price, which they were made to pay,
And in their hard won peace, the living pray
To never have to hear that trumpet blast.
Now Flanders fields have passed into the past,
The memory receded into grey,
The scars in flesh and landscape fade away,
Like all the works of men, they couldn’t last.

But though where war once bloomed the grass may grow,
As if the fear and blood had never been,
They wove our freedom with a golden thread
Which binds our fate to theirs. And this we owe:
Remembrance shall be forever green,
The debt we owe the fallen, poppy red.


Sonnet CLXXIII - On My Future Past
21st November 2016

When I am old and look with rheumy eyes
At all the things which seem important now,
Will I remember, or be baffled how
I gave my better days to agonise
On each half-realised hope and compromise,
On every broken meeting, heart and vow,
And countless opportunities which I allow
To pass and so to build my dreams’ demise?

Or will I see a life lived to its best:
The work of years, returned to day by day;
A long and trying marathon well run?
Will every disappointment, flaw or test,
Have passed away so I might pass away,
With confidence, to hear the great ‘Well Done’?


Sonnet CLXXIV - On Normality
23rd November 2016

The shame of individuality
Has robbed us of the knowledge that what’s true
Is all are coloured with a different hue,
And technicolor toned humanity
Is all the fact of our normality:
And so we do not see, or misconstrue,
The freedom and the beauty which shines through,
Our share of splendid singularity.

And yet, there’s sweet seduction in the lie
That everyone must fit the sanctioned form;
But none can fit, and all at times have feared,
The consequences if they can’t comply:
The casting out of those who aren’t the norm,
As if it wasn’t normal to be weird.


Sonnet CLXXV - On The Cosmic Dawn
23rd November 2016

And then, a picosecond been and gone,
The universe began to cool and grow,
Lit only by unruly plasmic glow,
Until recombination, whereupon,
The early atoms bonded, one by one.
And then, just thirteen billion years ago,
The long, dark ages passed away, for Lo:
The primal galaxies were turning on.

The stars began to churn the dust to birth
The elemental parts of everything,
Which swirl away to some day hence unite
To form the first foundations of the Earth.
And so, the halls of highest heavens ring
With ancient, silent song: “Let there be light.”


Sonnet CLXXVI - On My Mother
28th November 2016

When I consider how my life has been:
The things unsaid which should have been expressed,
The pain I’ve caused and never even guessed,
The times that I’ve been thoughtless, careless, mean,
I know the person who’s too often seen
My very worst deserved my very best,
And was too often saddened, pained or stressed
Be it by foolish man or grumpy teen.

But I can’t count the depth of debt I owe,
And for the times it seemed I didn’t care
There are no words which can apologise;
For I have seldom found a way to show
The love and admiration that I bear,
For I know none so patient, kind or wise.


Sonnet CLXXVII - On The Cinema
29th November 2016

The promise of the dark which falls before,
The vast and empty silver canvas where
A beam of photons cut through dusty air,
To paint a moment, caught in light and score -
In every second painting twenty-four.
It paints a blessing, penance or a prayer,
A hymn of love or laughter or despair,
A blending of the commonplace with awe.

There, light may burn though it does not consume,
So as we come like Moses to that place
To marvel at the spectacle and sound,
Consider those about you in the room:
Extend to each your own expected grace;
Turn off your phone, you walk on holy ground.


Sonnet CLXXVIII - On Argumentality
29th November 2016

I walk, impassive, down a busy street,
And think of fights which I will never fight,
Of clever rhetoric on truth and right,
Words filled with icy wit and ireful heat,
Which brook no opposition and defeat
The machinations of wrong-headed might,
And into darkness shine incisive light,
And grind all foolish claims beneath my feet.

But never once have any come to be,
I flee from conflict like a startled doe,
And all these drills in intellectual pride,
Stay tangled deep within the heart of me.
So those I know will never come to know,
The arguments they’ve lost with me inside.


Sonnet CLXXIX - On My Father
30th November 2016

I know that Larkin had some things to say
About the things your parents give to you:
How faults pass on, combined with something new,
And misery increases day by day.
Still, I was shocked as childhood passed away,
To find the faultless father that I knew,
Had seemed to shrink in stature as I grew,
And so revealed his feet of faulty clay.

And yet, when I am thinking of my Dad
I still, so much, admire all he is,
And what he taught of how to be a man;
And if the balance of the good to bad
That I pass on is half as good as his
I’ll know that I’ll have done the best I can.


Sonnet CLXXX - On My Ancestors
30th November 2016

The memories of grandparents I knew:
The poems and the prayers they’d always say;
The cleaning smells; the food they cooked the way
Their mothers’ mothers taught them to how to do.
So four to eight, then sixteen, thirty-two,
As day becomes the night becomes the day,
Each generation lived to work and play,
All growing older, as the next one grew.

So on and on and on into the past,
Through human race, to creatures great and small,
To slimy things which swam through ancient sea.
This pool of all my forebears spreads out vast,
An ancient, strange, unbroken line of all
The strangers and strange creatures who made me.


Sonnet CLXXXI - On Request
30th November 2016

A tiny soul, in darkness, left alone,
Who wakes, perhaps in hunger or in fright,
And so we might assist him in his plight
He lifts his voice to wordlessly intone.
I cradle him as cry becomes a moan,
And by the glow cast by the landing light,
I see two eyes which open in the night,
To see that I’ll not leave him on his own.

He reaches out to gently touch my beard,
And as he drinks a bottleful of milk,
I hug his tiny body to my chest,
To show that night is nothing to be feared:
Behind the veil spun from darkness’ silk
We’re waiting there with comfort on request.


Sonnet CLXXXII - On Waiting
30th November 2016

I wait to reach the front of lengthy queues;
I wait for sun in cold; in heat, for rain;
I wait for buses, often wait in vain;
I wait for good, bad and indifferent news;
I wait to hear when I’ve had interviews;
I wait for time to pass, then wait again;
I wait for things profound, and things inane;
And in my bed, I lie and wait to snooze.

I pray that waiting won’t lead to despair,
And pray a patient spirit is my guide,
And pray my life will find a better state,
And wait to hear the answers to my prayer,
The whisper of the still, small voice inside:
I’m hopeful for tomorrow, so I wait.