The Miracle Inside a Storm from Hell Inside the Turning Wheels of Time

Sonnets by Thomas Davis

The Miracle Inside a Storm from Hell

Their misery growing as they splashed through streams
And felt huge clouds above the battered trees
That flung down branches as the sorceries
Of wind and hunger screamed and screamed, and screams
Into their fears, their hatred, useless dreams
The Preacher cultivated with an ease
That wasn’t true, not when the miseries
Of hell danced in the storm’s wild, fierce extremes.

And then, as if inside a miracle,
They reached a lonely church, the raging storm
So fierce they quailed inside its crucible,
And knew the light of God, their spirits warm,
The dreams the Preacher preached so lyrical
It made them feel, inside their hell, reborn.

Inside the Turning Wheels of Time

Inside the rhythm of the wagon’s wheels,
The Preacher, with his people crammed beside
Him underneath a false floorboard, untied
His consciousness from who he was, ordeals
He’d face for years now in the past, and reels
Of rainbow light exploded, amplified
A vision where he felt Ezekiel’s tide
Of prophecies burn like a fire that heals.

He saw his Promised Land, boats filled with fish,
A land of gardens lush as men could wish,

And in the garden of his vision, black
As midnight skies, a shining Adam spoke
A chant so sibilant with grace the almanac
Of hours turned like the wagon wheel’s spokes.

Note:  These two sonnets continue the series that constitute the beginnings of chapters in a book on a black community that existed on Washington Island before the coming of the Civil War.  These sonnets are part of the sequence that deals with the escape of people from the community from the plantations where they were enslaved.   The sonnets are written using a mixture of sonnet forms.  “The Miracle Inside a Storm from Hell” is a Spenserian sonnet.  “Inside the Turning Wheels of Time” is a French sonnet.



Filed under poems, Poetry, Thomas Davis, Uncategorized

12 responses to “The Miracle Inside a Storm from Hell Inside the Turning Wheels of Time

  1. Ahhhhh …. Tom, as always, your sonnets and the stories they tell take my breath away with their utter perfection. I will never tire of reading your work, dear Poet. Love and hugs to you and Ethel xox

  2. When I read your two titles together as you featured them above, I was reminded of Winston Churchill’s…”a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”
    The language in these two is so very rich, and the imagery breathtaking, Thomas. The cadence has an almost breathlessness to it, especially in the first one. I like the way the French sonnet stanzas are separated. The couplet gives a sense of resolution or conclusion, but there’s still the quatrain to go, and it opens, rather than closes, the sonnet at the end. These are quite beautiful. You are really on a roll!

  3. ajmark

    …and it’s good to hear you’ve been published in such an established magazine, too. Inspiring!

  4. I like the second sonnet very much – each line is like a wheel spoke – I can see and hear the turning turning turning… I saw bits of Yeats and Dylan Thomas is a sonnet!

  5. extrasimile

    ‘It made them feel, inside their hell, reborn.’ That’s going to be some rough preaching to write, Thomas; perhaps you should consult Melville….actually the poem has a little Moby Dick in its bones. There’s a damp drizzle November somewhere in its lines. Still that preacher, ‘cultivating with an ease that wasn’t true.’ Curiously if you leave the ‘n’ out of ‘lines’…how close is poetry to…no, I just mistype a lot. Still that preacher… Tell the truth, but tell it slant. Yes there is a little Emily here too. Not to mention ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry god.’ And don’t mistype sinners so that it comes out ‘singers’. This could really be a hell on wheels.
    This is perhaps an odd way to say I like these poems, calling them lies and all that, but it seems to me you are courting something profound and hence dangerous. How all poetry [here preaching, but see Nietzsche on tragedy in The Birth of Tragedy and by extension poetry in general. Norman O. Brown one of Nietzsche’s, via the Freud line, children: Everything is a metaphor; there is only poetry.] can distort, and gets its power from this distortion, and it distorts nearly everything (especially in a culture that overvalues prayer and preaching and undervalues poetry] . Think of Oedipus here.
    Who wants to be reborn in hell? [But you know this] Everyone. [and I do know you didn’t quite say this…]
    Okay classroom dismissed. Keep up the good work, Thomas. I really think you may be on to something here..


  6. In “Inside the Turning Wheels of Time” I especially like the way you have the wagon wheels return in the final line, joining the whole sonnet into one l large wheel of a poem. And of course there is the turning wheel of time, of travel, of change, of hope, of freedom, of release.

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