This morning I signed a contract with Kelsay Books for the publication of my ninth collection, Sonnetizer, a 60-plus-page book of unrhymed sonnets (that is, all poems are exactly 14 lines long). Structurally, I have arranged my solid-block sonnets at the beginning of the book, then those broken into an octave and a sestet (inspired by the Petrarchan sonnet) followed by three-quatrains-and-a-couplet sonnets (inspired by the Shakespearean). And the book peaks with these, then returns to the two-stanza ones, and ends with more solid-block sonnets.
Here are examples of one of each:
The leaves are still dead but not
the breeze that moves in them
and I was here, too, once:
One more breath in the leaves.
Defying death briefly in the afternoon
on the last day in February
a breeze stirs. I may be ready to ask again
some of the old questions. I may be
warmed into knowing. Cool air cups
my ear, a handmade funnel,
paper cup. I used to be good at hearing
through a crowded room.
I was good at being born, not just dying
all the time. I could be born, too.
Grief Is Talking
I stop dead at breakfast. Break off,
grief is talking through my four-year-old.
He remembers the basement we used to
play in, our LEGOS on the unused
changing table. Our Hot Wheels rode
the ramps of leftover floor planks.
In the basement, Daddy sang and played
the guitar. Not so anymore, the contra-
diction I can observe at breakfast opening
an unshuttable door in Theo’s brain
to the beautiful basement of lost things,
melodies. I still have the cracked Alvarez
Dad had ordered for my 16th birthday.
As it splits apart, the songs escape.
The difference is not that it is light
when I wake but birdsong
added to the darkness
lets me know I am no longer alone.
Lili is usually not in bed beside me
when my iPhone vibrates
on the nightstand. One of our children is,
or no one, and I have to go searching
for my wife, passed out
somewhere with the newborn
clutched to her chest, Gigi,
who wakes often to check on us
and make sure we haven’t wandered off
in the dark: lost, among stars.