“Mindless Life in Ghostly Shadows”
An Elizabethan Sonnet
This drinking tea to empty out a cup
And doing tasks to cross them off our lists
Directs the eyes to what is coming up,
Although what’s here, and nothing else, exists.
If sewing only to complete a dress
With thoughts of only what will next arrive,
Then shadows and a deathly emptiness
Accompany all moments we’re alive.

Without Awareness, tapestries of what has passed
Are woven presents filled with ghostly dreams,
And threads of faded “Now” that we’ve amassed
Will hold together Future’s fraying seams.
To always look behind or play the seer
Exchanges “is” for “is not truly here.”

“To My Lucky Readers”
You reading prose and poetry I write
Belong among the fortunate of Earth—
But not because I share profound insight
And not because my work’s of special worth.
Then why? Because some person clearly cared
Enough to see you’d have the skills you’d need
To understand what other minds have shared
And freely water learning’s fertile seed.
The food by which a hungry head’s enriched
Might rest untouched atop your dinner plate
If birth had found you and another switched
By circumstance, a god, or luckless fate.
When filled with pride for all the things you’ve learned,
Reflect on your advantages unearned.

An Elizabethan Sonnet
Upon reflection it would make no sense,
But when I saw you feeding near the tree,
I nearly ran to close the open fence
Though knowing that to come and go you’re free.

Invading space around my ribs and heart,
The panic rested only when I paused
And knew that Master Fear had shown his art
Replete with terrors nothing real has caused.

My heart becoming calmer in my chest,
I thought, “How very odd, insane, absurd
For fears about my dog to manifest
As fears about that little garden bird.”

What magic matches anxious minds for tricks?
What else can make a snake of harmless sticks?

“Likest Thou My Facebook Post”
An Elizabethan Sonnet
Remember now, while resting in thy seat,
How friends who hath the fame of being true
Inform themselves of what their friend doth eat
And sundry other things that friend might do.
Perforce thou needest soon that “Like” to click
If in thee doth a mote of mercy live.
For seconds, as if swords, my heart now prick
Whilst wait I for what’s only thine to give—
A “Like” to say thy care for me is great,
As care that hath a holy man for God,
When showing care of thine for my update
By clicking that’s akin to heads that nod.
If likest thou not my new Facebook post,
Of myself, anon, I’ll make a ghastly ghost.

“Christian Persecution in America”*
A Sonnet in Heroic Couplets
“Persecution has become the rule of modern times—
We face declining freedom,” Pastor chimes.
But name a president who’s slandered God,
And find a place where Christians bear the rod,
where on the streets a person glances down
No church is filled with nearly half the town.
The lost majorities that you often mourn
Are rearing children who are Christians born.
While people’s blood in other lands is spilled,
You’re free of any fear of being killed.
Unless your kind is hearing threats of death,
Those false complaints are only wastes of breath.
You’ve been less wronged than you’ve supposed
Because no view exists that’s not opposed.

*-This poem is not an attack on Christians but rather a critique of those complaining of persecution while living in one of the safest places on Earth for members of their religion.

I should probably add that there are several non-violent forms of persecution that people might face and that most of the “persecution” the poem’s subjects complain about falls under the category of disagreement rather than persecution. In many social and professional situations in America, open Atheism would be much more disadvantageous than open Christianity.

 “Shakespeare at Mardi Gras”
An Elizabethan Sonnet
Shall I compare thee to the Mardi Gras?
For thy enjoyment rarely comes to rest.
As cats at balls of yarn, thy hands oft paw
Thy blouse to bare to lookers-on a breast.
Thou grantest jesters their profoundest wish
And satisfy the chefs awash in grease
Who toil to fry another plate of fish.
The seamen searching for divine release
All know that fulfillment of fiery needs
They’ll rapidly, at little cost, receive
For giving thee a string of plastic beads.
…Though’ to all Adams play thee willing Eve,
The Quarter’s Pearl* you’ll always be,
So long as breath remains inside of thee.

“Amor Vincit Omnia”
An Elizabethan Sonnet
If rags I had to wear upon my back,
And bags of brownish paper were my shoes,
Complaints you’d never hear of what I lack,
Nor ever would you catch me singing blues.
If boxes stacked I were to call my house,
And shopping carts be all I had to drive,
I’d still in gasoline myself not douse
Nor off a mountain would I choose to dive.
If meals of mine contained no salt or meat,
Be baths in icy rivers what I took,
I’d think not ill of what I had to eat,
Nor would I gripe as cold and soaked I shook.
For long as stays her heart with mine entwined,
I ever shall my fate appraise as kind.

“Elegy for a Cow”
An Elizabethan Sonnet
A mockingbird’s demise is sad, no doubt,
But rarely does one raise a single brow—
No, not a man it seems does cry or pout—
When flies begin to feast upon a cow.
No thought is spared the weeping widowed bull
Who never could replace the love she gave,
Who lacks the milk to keep their children full,
Who can’t afford a spade to dig her grave,
Who knows, alas, his cherished, mooing mate
With leather tanners soon will have to meet—
Because it’s destiny, says the Book of Fate,
To be some guy or gal’s reclining seat—

Whose beefy bovine tears inscribe in soil
These lines produced by bullish sweat and toil.

“Liberation” [or “Sayonara to Samsara]
A Sonnet in Heroic Couplets
[A chain’s no good because no chain we make
Will ever be too strong for us to break.
The answer’s not to practice more restraint
Or cover holes with glossy coats of paint.

Suppressing only hides from us the foes
That would be safer for us to expose.
The vine will strangle, given chance to feed,
But you can stop its growth while it’s a seed.]

If you would take a closer, deeper look,
You’d know that bait conceals a rusty hook.
The words of Siren songs that plagued your youth
Do not communicate objective truth.
Like shadows, on the walls, that seem to play,
Deprived of light, they’re forced to go away.

“Exiled from the Planet of Apes”
An Elizabethan Sonnet

I now regret insulting you, dear ape,
With adjectives including “dirty,” “damn,”
And others lips won’t allow to escape.
If only words expressed how changed I am,
How diff’rent from the man you sent to space—
That man was arrogant and full of hate;
This one desires a primate’s warm embrace
But finds his change has happened far too late.

While mourning Earth from lonely, distant Mars,
I think of all the fun we could have shared—
Enjoying jokes and drinks at monkey bars
And seeing who would do what others dared.
I hope you’ll find you can one day forgive
And peacefully on Earth we all will live.

“Mars in Love”
An Elizabethan Sonnet
Some might assume he wears a rusty red
Because his lust for restless, raging war
With blood has dyed his garments’ ev’ry thread,
And red he has become from skin to core.
But truly, Mars, despite his brutal fame,
For more than blood alone has felt some care.
His reddish hue was caused by rueful shame.
When Vulcan revealed the god’s affair,
The tender place inside his broken heart
Was touched whenever Ares gave a thought
To Venus and him being kept apart
Or to infamy that for Love he’d bought.
Though from the snare of Vulcan he’s released,
To blush the warring God has never ceased.

“Tooth Fairy: a Tale of Crime”
An Elizabethan Sonnet
He asked, “You got the stuff?” I told him, “Yes,”
And wondered whether doing this was right.
“My friend, I expected nothing less,”
He said with eyes I had never seen so bright.

Examining the tooth I had procured,
He held it gently in a flattened palm—
Oblivious to the stress I had endured.
I hated seeing him remain so calm.

“When night arrives it’s time to start the fun,”
He whispered and reviewed again our plan:
“As she removes the pillow, draw the gun,
And growl as coldly as you can:
‘You need to kneel and afterwards to freeze.’
I’ll take her money once she’s on her knees.”

“Lost Cat”
An Elizabethan Sonnet
While watering the plants today, I heard
The ring of metal tags then saw a cat
And wondered whether he’d pursued a bird
Too far and gotten lost. He was as fat
And clean, from furry head to furry paw,
As any loving person’s treasured pet.
A little like one running from the law—
Eluding officers’ circling, dragging net—
He’d often hide in bushes and in trees.
His eyes appeared to say, “It’s not a game.
I’m scared and want again my life of ease.”
He fled before the tags revealed his name.
I hope his face won’t soon appear on pines
In “Help-Me-Find-My-Precious-Kitty” signs.

“The Birds in our Yard”
An Elizabethan Sonnet
We rarely used to notice common birds
Invited now into the yard to feed.
“That’s a mourning dove!”, and other words,
We pin to birds we’ve seen in guides we read.
This matching of a species with its name—
“A woodpecker! On the fence’s rail”—
Has quickly turned into a fav’rite game.
Unlike the birds confined in wiry jail,
These welcome visitors remain at ease
While hunting worms in grass, enjoying grain
The feeder holds, providing songs in trees,
And taking baths in pots containing rain.
These birds, who in our garden daily roam,
Are part of what has made this place a home.


1 thought on “Sonnets

  1. Pingback:  “Likest Thou My Facebook Post” A Shakespearean Sonnet by Paul Burgess | Miscellaneous Inanities

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