381

I like sonnets because they’re musical
A student gave me a bogus hall pass
I function as a muse and/or a fool
There is no rhyme or reason in a class
Social or Spanish, space shrinks in this school
Students speak up or shrink away with sass
I like sonnets because they’re musical
The light hits my pupils like broken glass
To teach reason is to be complicit
In expecting excellence examine
Contours of love exiting the closet
Leaks like snitches in luxurious famine
Verse by the pound spoken in measured rhyme
Sweet self-defense from the passage of time.

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380

I really almost die inside my sleep
where the whiteness of squall and sea prevail
as a gust of gulls swooped down and wassail
in the salty air through which my thoughts leap.

I crash in waves escorted by seaweed,
each lurch of surf provides an algal veil
to engulf me just as the bestial whale
imbibed Jonah in its attempt to feed.

But I wake up as the long weekend ends,
salt sweat pours down across my frantic front,
catching my breath, I swear to make amends

For my sins have forced me to bear the brunt
of failures forged by men. The ocean sends
me back to life to do what the tides want.

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379

Q: What does a king do on a snow day?
A: Reign, beloved! What’s today’s mathematics?
Understanding. Days with no dramatics
but plenty of flair as our fears allay.
I place more importance in the new day
than in a new calendar’s chromatics,
color-coded mess that aids dogmatics’
attempt to make the red and black obey.
So with that being said, happy new year
to those who follow time by papal bull
promulgated, I guess, to allay fear
amongst the most serious lambs with white wool
with hallowed cycles from year to year:
a pastoral cure in a time capsule.

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378

I saw a man caress his father’s fate
in a bar last week where raccoons did roam
freely on fences while my wife did gloam
about how men consume before they sate.
I don’t know, I saw him almost fall down,
a glass pint in hand with too much beer foam,
clearly poured in haste, the celestial dome
overhead like palms, humid and brown.
The pool table clicked out measured time passed.
In concentrated bursts geometers
tabled day jobs, reset odometers,
relaxed and recharged and fully half-assed.
The dread chased the joy as whiskey chased fear,
and for three dollars, he chased that with beer.

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377

Over him there sits a pall, resting dense
despite the sun and sand of the tropics.
He looks at the sea through clouded optics
despite his tan skin, his body is tense.
Kids throwing footballs near the wooden fence
that divides nature from man-made tropics,
high-priced urban life: steak tips and stock tips,
high-rises and lowlifes, the tourist lens.
He is plural, somehow from and above.
And as the seagull cleanses its palate
with a drink of salt water at high tide
he starts to remember those he should love.
But the late afternoon sky’s suave palette
wipes away all thought as waves do abide.

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376

Why spend all your time laboring over
labor? Slaving away in your dark mind
you forget you were once like the plover,
spanning continents in patterns undefined.
What happened to that flight? You took cover
in a warm, sticky place, you left behind
your motive for living, the prime mover
of your unconscious impulse, that orange rind.
Why spend all this time working and working?
For survival, even though it kills me.
I hear Death’s jagged cough lurking, lurking
in my asthmatic heart when Spirit fills me
and my lips get chapped from too much smirking
since I don’t respond and the pain chills me.

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375

The stack of paper eternally grips
my entire neck as I revise papers
and I decline as my spirit tapers
while beeswax falls as each candle drips
on the bottle it is in. Purple strips
of wax stretch themselves like lilac capers
across the see-through green glass skyscrapers
of the city of my desk. My heart rips.
All learning seems spent on speaking aloud;
there is no thought left for contemplation;
I spend most of my time before a crowd.
No wonder I have no inspiration.
And if good thoughts came I’d be truly wowed.
I am tired from daily expiration.

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