Did you attempt to fill an inner hole
By pouring water in another’s well?
Was soothing ev’ry stranger’s sagging soul
A way to lift your own from hopeless Hell?
You were a glass that magnified delight,
A sun that shined upon the spirit’s shore.
Your blazing, blinding brilliance kept from sight
The darkness deep inside your solar core.
When choosing not to live another day,
Perhaps, you—like us—didn’t truly know
That there’d again be clouds of black and gray
Above the spots once brightened by your glow.
But, though extinguished, you remain a star—
Which means some light will reach us from afar.
An Italian Sonnet about Chinese* Restaurants (Written in English by an American) [*Chinese restaurants in America…Chinese immigrants often choke on the fortune the first time they eat a fortune cookie.]
What did the slips inside my cookies say? “The dish of life contains a lot more spice
For people eating dumplings, pork, and rice
At San Francisco’s China House Buffet.”
“Ours is the only place to spend your pay. At Chang’s the chicken’s mixed with chunks of mice, And waiters’ heads are breeding grounds for lice [Which like to mingle with the beef fillet.]”
“You’ll live to see another creature’s year If eating only China House’s food.” “A person who believes that life is dear Won’t let these words be lost or misconstrued: Those eating Chinese food that’s not from here Are nailed inside their coffins and/or screwed.”
My Muse is scared of going underground,
So she’ll not take me places too profound.
And, if she ventures deep into my soul,
She’ll tunnel through it like a digging mole
Who sniffs his way around because he’s blind
And never sees the things his nose will find.
Perhaps her fear that I’ll be trapped or hurt
Prevents my pen from prying ‘neath the dirt.
The times I’ve grabbed the map to Caves of Self,
She’s whispered, “Please return that to the shelf.”
I’ve wondered if she keeps my poems light
Because she deems my talents sadly slight
And hopes I’ll never have to fail and know
I’ve gone the deepest that I’ll ever go.
“Recover soon,” is what’s polite to say,
But—while I hope you’re feeling fine—
I like it best by far when you’re away
[Where I don’t have to hear you mope and whine].
Although you do a slack and lousy job,
You think you’re one of Foxe’s martyred saints,
And—while you’re idler than a cab’net’s knob,
You criticize the rest and file complaints.
I want your bout of feeling ill to end,
[…Of course, I’d rather that you didn’t die]
But saying more would cause the truth to bend
Until it stretched into a twisted lie.
I’m confident that you’ll not get the axe
For taking time to heal up and relax.
“I’ve been Narcissus–gazing at the pool,
Enchanted by the ghost reflected there,
Manipulating others like a tool
So they’ll assure me that my type is rare.
Those beautiful faces that have tempted me
Have never earned their share of guilt and blame.
They’re mirrors showing what I want to see,
Illusions forced to fit inside my frame.
The Siren songs I always curse and scorn
[Once pleasure’s poison has destroyed my ear]
Are like a skillful servant on a horn
Who’ll play the melodies I want to hear.
The charming predator inside’s been loosed,
and I’ve become seducer and seduced.”
[a Tasteless Greeting Card from PaulMark] [I would hope it goes without saying that these sonnets are jokes which parody sappy Hallmark and Blue Mountain cards…]
What earns a friend the lofty rank of “dear”?
A friend insists we always ask for more.
…She’ll make us drink another round of beer
Although we’d rather stop at twenty-four.
A friend is like a loving sis or bro
[Or other relative you think is nice]
…Who’s always there to say, “I told you so!
If only you had taken my advice.”
A friend’s our confidant and closest bud
…Until the day our bosom buddy meets
A gorgeous mare or handsome, single stud
To share the space between the bed and sheets.
The sort of friend a person calls “the best”
Displays these traits more fully than the rest.
An “Honest/Tasteless” *Paulmark* sonnet from the Tasteless Greeting Cards Sonnet Sequence
You’re always asking, “Have I put on weight?”.
I’d set myself at liberty with truth
By pointing out the weight you’ve gained since youth,
But truth’s an arrow deadliest when straight.
I’ve never seen a meal on any plate
In which you’d hesitate to sink a tooth,
But saying so would be a bit uncouth
And ill befits a peace-desiring mate.
To best avoid a long and bitter fight,
I’ll keep on grinning that beguiling grin
And saying, when your clothes become too tight,
“My dear, how do you stay so very thin?”
…Or compliments [just as overused and trite]
About you being slender as a pin.
From a Parent to a Child [Another “Honest Greeting Card” by Paul “Whitberg” Burgess]
“Believe my son, and it will be achieved,”
I said because I wasn’t yet aware
That Sloth incarnate’s what I had conceived
And later reared with love and tender care.
To state the matter in a plainer way:
I didn’t think you’d be a lazy slouch
Who’d pass the whole of ev’ry precious day
Devouring snacks and wearing out my couch.
The time you spend on acting like a fool
Won’t bring you any closer to your dreams.
You’ll never leave the unemployment pool
Until you stop exhausting sofas’ seams.
I’d love to say, “I knew you’d make me proud,”
But lying is a sin that’s not allowed.
[He’s honest…but he’s still a bastard;)] [“Honest Greeting Card #2 from The Tasteless Greeting Card Sonnet Sequence]
You’ve been “involuntarily retired”
…ours is a slyer way to give the boot
[and thus avoid a not-so-civil suit]
Than saying, “Father Time, you’re being fired.”
The lawyer whose advice I have acquired
Suggests I act as though I gave a hoot
[Instead of calling you a “moldy coot
Who was by Abraham or Adam sired”].
We’re tired of underoverpaying needy teens,
And older folk like you have had their day.
Our future jobs will be for new machines
(which need no benefits and take no pay).
So, here’s a card and sev’rance bag of beans.
Enjoy your life, and go the hell away.
“Honest Greeting Card #1” [from the Tasteless Greeting CardsSonnet Sequence]
Although your inner beauty means a lot,
That side of you is only half the truth.
Your loving’s never really made me hot,
And, dear, I need some fire to light my youth.
You’re like the men I’ve read about in books—
The type to be a fine and faithful friend
And selflessly conceal his mournful looks
When Madame weds the Baron at the end.
Although you’re not the man of whom I dream,
I hope we’ll be the best of any pals.
Perhaps I’ll call to vent and blow off steam
And talk to you just like I do “the gals”.
I’d keep your tender heart and clever head
But spare myself from going to your bed.