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MODERN SONNETS

I prefer the original definition of the sonnet as a “little song” of indeterminate form and length. These modern sonnets vary from more-or-less traditional to free verse.


Maker, Fakir, Curer
by Michael R. Burch

A poem should be a wild, unearthly cry
against the thought of lying in the dark,
doomed―never having seen bright sparks leap high,
without a word for flame, none for the mark
an ember might emblaze on lesioned skin.

A poet is no crafty artisan―
the maker of some crock. He dreams of flame
he never touched, but―fakir’s courtesan―
must dance obedience, once called by name.
Thin wand, divine!, this world is too the same―

all watery ooze and flesh. Let fire cure
and quickly harden here what can endure.

Originally published by The Lyric

The ancient English scops were considered to be makers: for instance, in William Dunbar’s “Lament for the Makiris.” But in some modern literary circles poets are considered to be fakers, with lies being as good as the truth where art is concerned. Hence, this poem puns on “fakirs” and dancing snakes. But according to Shakespeare the object is to leave something lasting, that will stand test of time. Hence, the idea of poems being cured in order to endure. The “thin wand” is the poet’s pen, divining the elixir―the magical fountain of youth―that makes poems live forever. That is, of course, if he/she can pull it off, which is easier said than done.



Ebb Tide
by Michael R. Burch

Massive, gray, these leaden waves
bear their unchanging burden―
the sameness of each day to day

while the wind seems to struggle to say
something half-submerged planks at the mouth of the bay
might nuzzle limp seaweed to understand.

Now collapsing dull waves drain away
from the unenticing land;
shrieking gulls shadow fish through salt spray―

whitish streaks on a fogged silver mirror.
Sizzling lightning impresses its brand.
Unseen fingers scribble something in the wet sand.

Originally published by Southwest Review



The City Is a Garment
by Michael R. Burch

A rhinestone skein, a jeweled brocade of light,―
the city is a garment stretched so thin
her festive colors bleed into the night,
and everywhere bright seams, unraveling,

cascade their brilliant contents out like coins
on motorways and esplanades; bead cars
come tumbling down long highways; at her groin
a railtrack like a zipper flashes sparks;

her hills are haired with brush like cashmere wool
and from their cleavage winking lights enlarge
and travel, slender fingers ... softly pull
themselves into the semblance of a barge.

When night becomes too chill, she softly dons
great overcoats of warmest-colored dawn.

Originally published by The Lyric



Discrimination
by Michael R. Burch

The meter I had sought to find, perplexed,
was ripped from books of "verse" that read like prose.
I found it in sheet music, in long rows
of hologramic CDs, in sad wrecks
of long-forgotten volumes undisturbed
half-centuries by archivists, unscanned.
I read their fading numbers, frowned, perturbed―
why should such tattered artistry be banned?

I heard the sleigh bells’ jingles, vampish ads,
the supermodels’ babble, Seuss’s books
extolled in major movies, blurbs for abs ...
A few poor thinnish journals crammed in nooks
are all I’ve found this late to sell to those
who’d classify free verse "expensive prose."

Originally published by The Chariton Review



The Harvest of Roses
by Michael R. Burch

I have not come for the harvest of roses―
the poets' mad visions,
their railing at rhyme ...
for I have discerned what their writing discloses:
weak words wanting meaning,
beat torsioning time.

Nor have I come for the reaping of gossamer―
images weak,
too forced not to fail;
gathered by poets who worship their luster,
they shimmer, impendent,
resplendently pale.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



Love Has a Southern Flavor
by Michael R. Burch

Love has a Southern flavor: honeydew,
ripe cantaloupe, the honeysuckle’s spout
we tilt to basking faces to breathe out
the ordinary, and inhale perfume ...

Love’s Dixieland-rambunctious: tangled vines,
wild clematis, the gold-brocaded leaves
that will not keep their order in the trees,
unmentionables that peek from dancing lines ...

Love cannot be contained, like Southern nights:
the constellations’ dying mysteries,
the fireflies that hum to light, each tree’s
resplendent autumn cape, a genteel sight ...

Love also is as wild, as sprawling-sweet,
as decadent as the wet leaves at our feet.

Originally published by The Lyric



Redolence
by Michael R. Burch

Now darkness ponds upon the violet hills;
cicadas sing; the tall elms gently sway;
and night bends near, a deepening shade of gray;
the bass concerto of a bullfrog fills
what silence there once was; globed searchlights play.

Green hanging ferns adorn dark window sills,
all drooping fronds, awaiting morning’s flares;
mosquitoes whine; the lissome moth again
flits like a veiled oud-dancer, and endures
the fumblings of night’s enervate gray rain.

And now the pact of night is made complete;
the air is fresh and cool, washed of the grime
of the city’s ashen breath; and, for a time,
the fragrance of her clings, obscure and sweet.

Published by The Eclectic Muse



Leaf Fall
by Michael R. Burch

Whatever winds encountered soon resolved
to swirling fragments, till chaotic heaps
of leaves lay pulsing by the backyard wall.
In lieu of rakes, our fingers sorted each
dry leaf into its place and built a high,
soft bastion against earth's gravitron―
a patchwork quilt, a trampoline, a bright
impediment to fling ourselves upon.

And nothing in our laughter as we fell
into those leaves was like the autumn's cry
of also falling. Nothing meant to die
could be so bright as we, so colorful―
clad in our plaids, oblivious to pain
we'd feel today, should we leaf-fall again.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea



In Praise of Meter
by Michael R. Burch

The earth is full of rhythms so precise
the octave of the crystal can produce
a trillion oscillations, yet not lose
a second's beat. The ear needs no device
to hear the unsprung rhythms of the couch
drown out the mouth's; the lips can be debauched
by kisses, should the heart put back its watch
and find the pulse of love, and sing, devout.

If moons and tides in interlocking dance
obey their numbers, what's been left to chance?
Should poets be more lax―their circumstance
as humble as it is?―or readers wince
to see their ragged numbers thin, to hear
the moans of drones drown out the Chanticleer?

Originally published by The Eclectic Muse



Free Fall
by Michael R. Burch

These cloudless nights, the sky becomes a wheel
where suns revolve around an axle star ...
Look there, and choose. Decide which moon is yours.
Sink Lethe-ward, held only by a heel.
Advantage. Disadvantage. Who can tell?
To see is not to know, but you can feel
the tug sometimes―the gravity, the shell
as lustrous as damp pearl. You sink, you reel
toward some draining revelation. Air―
too thin to grasp, to breath. Such pressure. Gasp.
The stars invert, electric, everywhere.
And so we fall, down-tumbling through night’s fissure ...
two beings pale, intent to fall forever
around each other―fumbling at love’s tether ...
now separate, now distant, now together.

Originally published by Sonnet Scroll



In this Ordinary Swoon
by Michael R. Burch

In this ordinary swoon
as I pass from life to death,
I feel no heat from the cold, pale moon;
I feel no sympathy for breath.

Who I am and why I came,
I do not know; nor does it matter.
The end of every man’s the same
and every god’s as mad as a hatter.

I do not fear the letting go;
I only fear the clinging on
to hope when there’s no hope, although
I lift my face to the blazing sun

and feel the greater intensity
of the wilder inferno within me.



Huntress
by Michael R. Burch

after Baudelaire

Lynx-eyed, cat-like and cruel, you creep
across a crevice dropping deep
into a dark and doomed domain.
Your claws are sheathed. You smile, insane.
Rain falls upon your path, and pain
pours down. Your paws are pierced. You pause
and heed the oft-lamented laws
which bid you not begin again
till night returns. You wail like wind,
the sighing of a soul for sin,
and give up hunting for a heart.
Till sunset falls again, depart,
though hate and hunger urge you―"On!"
Heed, hearts, your hope―the break of dawn.

Originally published by Sonnetto Poesia



Water and Gold
by Michael R. Burch

You came to me as rain breaks on the desert
when every flower springs to life at once,
but joy's a wan illusion to the expert:
the Bedouin has learned how not to want.

You came to me as riches to a miser
when all is gold, or so his heart believes,
until he dies much thinner and much wiser,
his gleaming bones hauled off by chortling thieves.

You gave your heart too soon, too dear, too vastly;
I could not take it in; it was too much.
I pledged to meet your price, but promised rashly.
I died of thirst, of your bright Midas touch.

I dreamed you gave me water of your lips,
then sealed my tomb with golden hieroglyphs.

Originally published by The Lyric



Fountainhead
by Michael R. Burch

I did not delight in love so much
as in a kiss like linnets' wings,
the flutterings of a pulse so soft
the heart remembers, as it sings:
to bathe there was its transport, brushed
by marble lips, or porcelain,―
one liquid kiss, one cool outburst
from pale rosettes. What did it mean ...

to float awhirl on minute tides
within the compass of your eyes,
to feel your alabaster bust
grow cold within? Ecstatic sighs
seem hisses now; your eyes, serene,
reflect the sun's pale tourmaline.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



The Folly of Wisdom
by Michael R. Burch

She is wise in the way that children are wise,
looking at me with such knowing, grave eyes
I must bend down to her to understand.
But she only smiles, and takes my hand.

We are walking somewhere that her feet know to go,
so I smile, and I follow ...

And the years are dark creatures concealed in bright leaves
that flutter above us, and what she believes―
I can almost remember―goes something like this:
the prince is a horned toad, awaiting her kiss.

She wiggles and giggles, and all will be well
if only we find him! The woodpecker’s knell
as he hammers the coffin of some dying tree
that once was a fortress to someone like me
rings wildly above us. Some things that we know
we are meant to forget. Life is a bloodletting, maple-syrup-slow.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



Pan
by Michael R. Burch

... Among the shadows of the groaning elms,
amid the darkening oaks, we fled ourselves ...

... Once there were paths that led to coracles
that clung to piers like loosening barnacles ...

... where we cannot return, because we lost
the pebbles and the playthings, and the moss ...

... hangs weeping gently downward, maidens’ hair
who never were enchanted, and the stairs ...

... that led up to the Fortress in the trees
will not support our weight, but on our knees ...

... we still might fit inside those splendid hours
of damsels in distress, of rustic towers ...

... of voices of the wolves’ tormented howls
that died, and live in dreams’ soft, windy vowels ...

Originally published by Sonnet Scroll

Keywords/Tags: modern, sonnet, sonnets, free, verse, song, traditional, romantic, romanticism, art, artisan
Walter Daniel Mar 12
owls pick clover leaves so that their disorders are detected, remarkable
power of being, peripheral parts of their existence, satiric reality
quotidian and cynical, disorders represent internal struggles, passive
owls' reductive and holistic approaches to heavy squalls ships madly
run into, ships shaken in confusion, captains gone, crew members
thrown into the sea, owls recognise a woman does not have anything but avid
interest in men, her husbands offending each other, a pervasive pattern
of dysregulation making life doubtful than uneasy, a commitment
to passionate detachment dependent on innocent identity
impossible, nothing is possible because owls' holy life is precisely
mapped out, grave consequences of sanctification and glorification, mythic
characters not remembered only because of their relation to dead
figures in Orpheus' old legend, speaking about a Jew sacrificed
at Auschwitz, events revealed with overtones existentially psychic
From "Aestas, or Walter Daniel's Very Difficult Poems for Readers"
http://aestas.sakura.ne.jp/
Kristin Dec 2020
"Our people don't build fences"
and so
I didn't learn boundaries

"Our women don't talk like that"
and so
I didn't speak up

"Our children are always nice"
and so
I didn't learn where it was healthy to store my rage

"Our family doesn't do things like that"
and so
I didn't have the courage to try at times

"Our roots are here"
and so
I didn't leave with confidence

But....

I built boundaries
and so
I healed

I spoke up
and so
I healed

I raged
and so
I healed

I tried
and so
I healed

I left
and so
I healed
Walter Daniel Oct 2020
disreputable disruption and chaos, beasts bellow
in admiration unyieldingly antonymous creatures' banality
and intimacy, uncommonly negated, patriotic mentality
and contempt much gathered remarkable as an ingenious fellow
entirely ignorant of green rings' properties, yellow
crosses for worshipers nothing loyally expected for false morality
slowly restored, staurolatry, endless formality
and traditional rules strict, desperate approaches to mellow
elements against monotonous brutality modifiable
partially, knowledges are unreal, blindly expressed
uranomania responding to numerous ends
of less industrious frameworks, mingled sections liable
for negligence, wholly natural ideas erratic gains obsessed
with superstitious claims for dividends
From "Aestas, or Walter Daniel's Very Difficult Poems for Readers"
http://aestas.sakura.ne.jp/
Walter Daniel Oct 2020
preserved breviaries Catholic, properly categorised
plenty of answers many questions added to, juxtaposition
of many images, a precise definition
of antagonisation, sycophantic normal positions despised
totally, military misers accused of ensnarement orderly memorialised
properties properly improved, revealed superstition
and suspicion, doubtfully splendid spirited perdition
distinguished, heirs of documents are identified, minimised
images and boors' occupied regions, grandiose
sciences are indeterminable, safely secured benefits
for runic understandings pretentious
obstinate beasts acquire in disruption, types of otiose
considerations ill-prepared to deal with credits
and debts for answering questions licentious
From "Aestas, or Walter Daniel's Very Difficult Poems for Readers"
http://aestas.sakura.ne.jp/
Walter Daniel Oct 2020
prior types of means osteopathic, inducing
a rapid rise and fall of legislative notations reporting
numerous attachments reminded of ideal ladies distorting
insincere relations further, receiving silhouettes than refusing
etiquette, risen houses making grouped suggestions using
fallacies facilitating computerisation processes, enemies exhorting
calamities mystical, merely confessed cautions, escorting
prisoners defenders outnumber, abusing
admired correspondence with local candidates by reasons
of terminated practices psychiatric, a variety of sequences manifest
and dreamed, a series of options and circulation
of desirables, Utopian personae deny miracles for treason's
sake, centuries ended without generous coercion, dressed
humans select pawned incarnation
From "Aestas, or Walter Daniel's Very Difficult Poems for Readers"
http://aestas.sakura.ne.jp/
Walter Daniel Oct 2020
raised walls painted so that distanced towers stand
recognisably, cast desires public displaced
with prevented wills, spinning crosses effaced
with artificial elements exchanged, artisans' land
ideally used for first reaping, agreements planned
for disagreements, disdain and new deviances, embraced
parrots' ardent admiration is endurable, disgraced
so that facts of recognition are eternally evident, grand
appearances and objects, disinterested
vigilance and changes ever introduced to affairs
honourable, things abstracted neutrally exploring
unreal occasions of opulence, listed
and inherited, favoured for ritual houses and wares
priced, a result of lost words pouring
From "Aestas, or Walter Daniel's Very Difficult Poems for Readers"
http://aestas.sakura.ne.jp/
Walter Daniel Oct 2020
altered decency positive as provisions dedicated
tautologies in stated properties, indicators of philosophic
indecency, a plenitude of coins and even sources, a trick
of curiosity, means of kinesipathy celebrated
homogeneous deemed interests of objects, resources cultivated
anew, solid beginnings related to certainty mimic
kyriolexy, come puppets, committed to odd logic
and erroneous ideas, a spacial cases of opponents' rage unabated
and unrestricted, never matched never occasioned, external
perfection, pleasure, frustrated
hopes, a lack of evidence contributes
to predicaments, positive chances of infernal
balance, concordant with sardonic desires, kaleidoscopes
rarefying ****** opportunistic disputes
From "Aestas, or Walter Daniel's Very Difficult Poems for Readers"
http://aestas.sakura.ne.jp/
Walter Daniel Oct 2020
tidings foreign and sails approachable, applicative
potentials are more erasable than realisable, ethical isolation
ennobled, heretically traumatised, an affirmation
of most vindictive anger and rage, indicative
of quietly replaced sensations equal to vengeance, prases explicative
in delivery, solely true and eminently imminent imagination
insignificant, reign and destruction, entrammelled selves' emanation
results in parateresiomania, a fatally communicative
process of natal convictions, extreme and flawless, communions
are impressed with prisoners' relevance, what affably
considered, what dogmatically initiated, means
represented disfigure unanswered replies, a perfect union's
lost goodness, damaged facades laughably
gorgeous, curious and serious, a community's machines
From "Aestas, or Walter Daniel's Very Difficult Poems for Readers"
http://aestas.sakura.ne.jp/
Walter Daniel Oct 2020
epithets ethnocentric, writ or summons, the birth
and beginning of pataphysics, dreary ideas set aside
and conditioned, concurrently indeterminable, evils betide
man, noises and bones ossified, the mirth
of cheated demons frequent places, papers roseate worth
reading seven times after millions of chancy exasperation, qualified
soldiers groping in darkness, towns allied
with veterans, read oceanic maps and maps of the earth
are complied, pious assumptions of diverted water, patchy
knowledge of metaphysics coupled with slaves'
science ravaged, rulers' sacrifice reduced and sacrificed
rulers mediocre, rusty straps of metallics hold stones, catchy
choruses are mere repetitions of no one craves
dignity, waives privileges highly priced
From "Aestas, or Walter Daniel's Very Difficult Poems for Readers"
http://aestas.sakura.ne.jp/
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