Tag Archives: sonnet

In the Time of the Black Snake

by Thomas Davis
an irrelgular sonnet

The buffalo come stomping, snorting, blowing.
The blizzard howls like old men throwing fits
Of rage against the way their bones are creaking
Into another year, arthritis stirring
Up aches so harsh their anger steals their wits.

Snow crusts on dark hides, slows their stamping, singing
Until the universe becomes a song
Protesting how long drills drill into earth,
Into the heart of who the peoples long
To be inside the spirit of their birth,
Inside the breaths that make them who they are,
A being on the earth made from the star-
Stuff spun into the dance against the snake,
The warriors singing as they stomp and shake.

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An Elder’s Prayer

by Thomas Davis

They frack the earth. Drills fly into the soil
And whirl through rock, a stream of chemicals
Shot down into the shale, the oracles
Of business, profit, subjugation, oil
Enraptured by technology, the coil
Inside the engine driving humankind,
The writ of progress, greed, force sealed and signed.
The oilmen say, we need the fracked-up oil.

An elder walks into the winter cold
And kneels beside a frozen lake and lifts
His arms toward dark clouds, his spirit bold
Enough to recognize creation’s gifts.

“The radiance of water, soil, and sky,”
He sang. “Is in a baby’s first-breath cry.”

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Shiva’s Dancing

by Thomas Davis

Ben Naga published a short poem on his blog, https://bennaga.wordpress.com:

SHIVA’S DANCING

Inhale thyme, the spice of life
Dance the music of rhythm
A tapestry woven through
Time and space in harmony

I responded with free verse:

And inside Orion, where gas the size of planets spit
out of a black hole’s enormous yaw,
and where incubators blaze suns out of what seems light,
but is really reactors coalescing into the splitting of nuclei,

Shiva went walking.

As he walked he felt, rather than saw, the forces of destruction
annihilating into the forces of creation,
and the foment caused by his walking and his thoughts
inside a place generating the growth of a galaxy
let him sit on the side of a mountain in the Himalayas
as a snow leopard and two spotted cubs
leapt from a ledge of old ice
toward a cliff face where mountain goats danced with dark hooves away
into clouds descended from heaven.

Ben Naga responded to that by saying, I like the poem. So full of powerful imagery. Should I challenge you to tame this outpouring into a sonnet?

I responded:

Shiva’s Dancing

Gas from a black hole’s yaw hurled massively
To deep, deep space. In Orion suns blazed
Out from the incubator galaxy,
New stars a coalescing plasma raised
From clouds of light as Shiva walked
In nothingness and felt unraveling
Annihilate into creation as he stalked
Through dances of light’s christening.

Upon a Himalayan mountaintop
He sat. Snow leopards, muscling with grace,
Leapt from a ledge of ice, the yawing drop
Below them sheer, a cliff’s dark, rocky face.

Two mountain goats danced, dark with hooves, away
Into a cloudy heaven’s roiled ballet.

One thing links to another, then causes a reaction that has, somehow, the definition of creativity inside it.

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Publications by Ethel Mortenson and Thomas Davis

Both Ethel and Thomas have had recent publications.  Ethel’s poem, “Love Songs,” one of the best poems she has written that has not found its way to publication until now, has just been published by Bramble, the new literary magazine of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets (WFOP), at http://www.wfop.org/love-songs.  Bramble (http://www.wfop.org/bramble-lit-magis a new effort by WFOP, and this is its first issue.  The poems in the first issue are well worth reading.

Tom has just had a sonnet published in Ariel Anthology 2016, Inward and Outward, “Of Those Who Could End the World — So There Osama bin Laden, ISIS, and the Archbishop of Treves!”  This is the third year his sonnets have been published in Ariel, which is arguably the best anthology published in Wisconsin.  This year’s anthology also contains two black and white drawings by Ethel, “Electric Horse” and “Night Sounds.”  Ariel can be ordered online at https://www.amazon.com/Ariel-Anthology-2016-Inward-Outward.

Tom also had two children’s poems published in an anthology by Brick Street Poetry, Inc., Words & Other Wild Things.  The poems were “Milk Maid” and “The Fisherman.”  The anthology can be ordered online at https://www.amazon.com/Words-Other-Things-Street-Poetry.

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The Silence of Old Men

by Thomas Davis

 As old men sink into their silence, words
Become entangled in the memories
And moments that are like a flock of birds
So dense in time and space they start to freeze
The meanings that an old man means to say,
Or be, or clarify to those who’d listen
As if he still had thoughts that might convey
Some sense beyond the silence of his person.

Inside the living room I watch his eyes.
I feel inside myself and try to hear
The silence as its heaviness denies
Old age’s bucketful of pains and fear —

And as I watch I know the old men in their silence,
Their frozen faces and their look of patience.

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Inside the Place where Joy and Hope is Made

A sonnet from Thomas Davis

Inside the barn the memories of war
As horses ate their hay and cows were fed:

Inside three men, one white, two black, the roar
Of cannon, sight and sound of men that bled
Their lives out as the living and the dead
Were showered with hot, splintering fusillades
Flung in the wave-tossed night from hell, the dread
Of battle dancing as the barricades
Of what you were in being human fades
Into the chaos burning through the night.

The Preacher frowned: “Destruction serenades
Our hearts against our spirit’s holy light,”
He said. The others nodded. Each had prayed
To find the place where joy and hope was made.

Note: This is the next in the series of sonnets written as heads of chapter for a novel I am trying to work on. I have published several of these sonnets with previous posts. The sequence presents insights into an escape of slaves to Washington Island in Wisconsin before the Civil War. There was a small community of blacks on the island just before passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

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Tom’s new sonnet in The Road Not Taken

The new issue of The Road Not Taken, a Journal of Formal Poetry has just published one of my sonnets, “Spreading Wings.” You canhttp://journalformalpoetry.com, then click on the Spring 2016 issue and scroll down. Since both of our daughters, Sonja and Mary, were present at the poetry reading at the Reader’s Loft Bookstore in Green Bay (http://www.houseofthetomato.com/march), I read this Italian sonnet there. The sonnet is about them when they were young. I wrote it during an extremely terrifying time in Ethel’s and my life when Kevin, our 27 year old son, was in the process of dying from cancer. Writing sonnets (I wrote 44 in all) was the only way I could bear what Ethel, I, and, of course, Kevin most of all, were going through. What concerned me day after day was our family and remembering incidents that made up the substance of our lives as a family. This sonnet tells of a time that I remember with great love in my spirit.
Raising children is not always easy, but I like to think that at least part of what Ethel and I have achieved in life is the way our two daughters have reflected into our granddaughters and grandsons. They both are beyond outstanding parents, always willing to sacrifice so that their children can meet whatever promise they have in life. I am also convince that they are great teachers because of the spirit they have inculcated from the time they were toddlers, dancing through life with a verve that gives no quarter to a universe that is not always kind.
I hope those of you who go to read the sonnet will enjoy it.

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