The Weekly Sonnet

Bronze statue of a man holding a crown

The conclusion of a literary experiment

‘Twas born of tumult, toil, troubled times
This dreary den of literary hubris.
Disgruntled poet’s voice was wrought with rhymes
And barbs, an arrow not inclined to miss
Its target. Skewering the bard became
A grand adventure. Clever quips disguised
As metered iambs–sonnets all the same–
Deceived the academics who surmised
My penmanship sincere. So what recourse
Remains? The Weekly Sonnet’s point is through,
Its hapless victims felled without remorse,
And all experiments conducted due.
I needn’t obfuscate my thoughts again;
Sincerity hereafter guides my pen.

Lamentation of the Black Knight

Antique chess pieces on a wooden board

Defeating your nemesis too easily has its drawbacks

“Too kind a death was death for whited knight.
The world’s a cruel, heartless place for those
Who shun the yoke of chivalry and light—
That breed of man who seeks a villain’s clothes.
Too swift in judgment, righteousness defames,
And all would claim their hearts have often said:
‘No whiter is the man than black he blames.
A golden crown is worth its weight in lead.’
If words were free and justice truly blind,
No shadow cast could threaten honor’s name
Where white was black and black was undefined.
A hero is a villain all the same.
Though whited knight was no more right than left,
Too swift in vengeance renders me bereft.”

A Princess of Mars

Cover illustration by Frank E. Schoonover

How John Carter arrived on Mars and got into trouble

No greater fighting gentleman I knew
than Carter of Virginia. Uncle Jack
or “John” told stories wonderful but true!
His cryptic death foretold he would come back.
A wondrous cave of Arizona gold
He sought—Apaches hunted him instead.
Pursued until that night, John Carter told
the gods of Mars, “I wish that I were dead.”
When next my uncle woke, he found that fate
Had sped him far from home! Beneath his feet
was Martian loam; he leaped as without weight!
Amazing, yes, but not at all discrete.
His actions caught the eyes of green-skinned Tharks,
whose Martian rifles rarely missed their marks.

Popcorn Spider

A spider web covered in water drops

An early-morning observation turned into a sonnet

I watched a spider crawling on the ceiling,
His body carriage black and unappealing.
Although his gait was ambling, rambling, odd,
His spindly legs traversed where few had trod.
Contributing in part to all his swerving,
The popcorn made his journey most unnerving.
For while this monster smaller than my finger
Did naught but lumber lazily and linger,
I did not wish to catch him if he fell,
Nor share my pillow even for a spell.
Above my eyes, the spider lost his holding!
But silver strands of gossamer unfolding
Secured the tiny marvel in his place.
Too late for me—I fled without a trace.

The Classroom

The Statue of Liberty

Unflattering sentiments I overheard in nearly all of my classes

“America, you ethnocentric cur!
Your fathers raped and whored these virgin lands
And slew the native peoples with disease.
The slaves you freed remain a slave to her:
Your Lady Liberty, whose kin on sands
So far from home let spangled blood with ease.
At home, we cry: ‘It’s not our war! Forget
Democracy abroad. We wish to live
In peace and love—the enemy is us!’
America, we hate the way you’re set
In Moses’ law—a fact we can’t forgive.
Reject your God! In apes alone we trust.
America, your beauty wanes and thins
Beneath the shackled weight of all our sins.”

As Blue Fades into Grey

A foggy ocean horizon

A vague declaration of tepid romantic stirrings

If I should say, “The waves upon the shore,”
You’d think this was a song you’d heard before.
Or if perchance “the sand beneath our feet,”
You might suppose this rhyme was sickly sweet.
Alack! Clichés have ruined poet’s dreams
So much that any fellow’s writing seems
The sentimental sap of willow trees.
Fair reader know: I seek no sympathies.
A woman’s hand gives rise to chivalry
In meeker men who never dreamed to be
Much greater than a hermit cursing love.
But courage is the virtue I speak of!
And now it cuts a swathe, a path, a way:
My fear dissolves as blue fades into grey.

O, Thou Bloody Crouton!

Green salad with mixed veggies in a bowl

A cheeky account of biting my lip while eating a salad

I.
In salad fair and lovingly
Disguised as but a square of bread:
Miss Crouton, who most sweetly said,
“Do part thy lips so tender, greet
And with all haste proceed to eat
My simple, lovely, tasty frame.”
And had I known her other name,
Would hesitate a little more
And so avoid this present sore.
But knew I not, so thus I ate
Suspecting to alleviate
The rabid pangs of gluttony.

II.
As fork impaled that loveless loaf,
Miss Crouton sang so cunningly,
“You saved the best for last: it’s me!
So wise in taste my newest friend,
Our future’s bright I do portend.”
She said no more as then I took
The crouton’s life. My senses shook
And carried on as flesh within
Gave way to scarlet down my chin.
What coward, fiend! Oh cruel hate!
Miss Crouton? No, Miss Fortunate—
Who made of me a foolish oaf.