Posted tagged ‘sonnet’

Horse (Sonnet)

August 28, 2021
Horse Lying Down in Field


You see an old horse lying in a field
and after the alarm–is he okay?
think of your grandmother, how she wielded,
you were told, frayed rope and a cock-eyed pulley–
nothing that they owned worked right–to try
to keep a beloved horse on all fours,
believing that if he laid down, he would die,
but if they kept him up the night and more,
up, upon his hooves, all would be well. 

First, she swayed him high with her own arms,
but he was a horse. So, as he knelt,
she resorted to the hoists, as if charms
against gravity could ward off death.
How she wept, you were told, at his last breath. 


Here’s a little sonnet about a horse resting in a field and also about my grandmother, who loved horses.  A few years ago, I wrote another poem about this same story, called Colonel, that may be found here

A Difference in Egos (Sonnet)

July 8, 2013


A Difference in Egos

I played the role of your hillside, rolling from
lowing seas. I played the role of mossless stone,
as free as you seemed to be. I played a bone
that was not a rib, no Eve from Kingdom come,
aping what I thought you wanted, and then some.
I played me like a viola, whose braised tone
might fit your style. Even polished up a moan–
a true enough moan – but with consonant hum.

But none of me sufficed. Not my hill nor cry–
yes, I cried too–true oceans of ill-toned tilt–
you viewed that bit as an act, a ploy, a lie.
And then I could play no more, the infused lilt
leaving me as you would, for I could not ply
your rolling ways in such salt-plowed earth, bound silt.

Here’s a rather whiney draft sonnet for Kerry O’Connor’s wonderful sonnet challenge on With Real Toads. Kerry inspires with the example of two July-born sonneteers, Petrarch and Neruda. This was a bit of an experiment for me — no, I couldn’t get sensual, cool and quirkily profound like Neruda –but I went for an eleven syllable line which was apparently typical of Petrarch, and did not even try to think of iambic pentameter. See Kerry’s article for more on these remarkable poets.

I am also linking this to dverse poets pub open link night, hosted today by the very energetic Bjorn Rudberg.

“Going to Ground”

February 5, 2013


Going to Ground

And then there are those times when you follow
ground rather than sky, spying your way
by clump, not star, tufted mound, found hollow
in a hill. You’ve not been kind, and as day
falls, and night falls too (from your perspective),
you want to weep, but can only walk,
cross snow-swept field, unable to relive
what you didn’t rightly live when the clock
wound round first go. As coat sleeve side-slides,
yaps sound, a wild chorus, and not distant,
though muted in dim.  Your startled heart invites
in fear to replace remorse, but, next instant,
recognizes the whine of rubbed nylon.
You walk, arms behind back now, head still down.


A sort of a sonnet, with slant rhyme and shifting pentameter, for dVerse Poets Open Link Night.

No Stopping It

December 17, 2011


DVerse Poets Pub has a graphic prompt today, hosted by Brian Miller, with drawings by Tera Zajeck. The drawings are lovely and detailed–you can see some of them on Tera’s site, Olive Hue Designs, but I tend to like to use my own art, so have done my own rather muddled version of one of them.

And here’s a sonnet (of sorts).

No stopping it

I learn each day there’s no control to be had.
The wind will roar, the jacket that you wore
will be too thin. Joy turns sour, smiles sad,
what used to fire his passion now’s a bore;
children that you carried look askance.
Remember how they hated to let you go?
Now they leave without the merest glance
while you soothe your heart with how it must be so.
It’s not all lost, you find such sweetness too–
the cake you share, the couch where you two sprawl–
but still no holding fast, no straight course true,
no certain grace to mitigate the fall–
only the moment, that present but distant shore,
that you know must be enough, for there’s no more.

Mermaid Sonnet – “Different Tastes in Mythical Creatures”

September 26, 2011


I am reposting this poem and painting as an entry in the weekly links of another very active poetry site, Gooseberry Garden, which is focusing this week on mythology.   A dear friend had suggested the topic of mermaids for a poem, which I used as a writing exercise.   At first, I envisaged a poem about teenage girls diving into the surf on a tropical beach; but the poem that came out was somewhat different. (I’m afriad that I had a Robert Pattinson fixation at the time, and somehow brought the subject of mermaids around to vampires.

Different Tastes in Mythical Creatures

Some go for vampires; they like the idea
of sharp but elegant pursuit, the notion
that they personally are the cup of tea
of the ruthless.  Others look to the oceans,
scanning fantastic waves for a gleam of gleam,
twist of twist, the well-hipped curve of tail;
their magic’s found in the muscular seam
between breast and flipper, flesh and scale.
They love the submergence, dive to the unknown,
an elegance unclothed in its own wet skin,
Eve and the serpent combined, slicked hair let down,
the search for safety in the dare, plunge, swim.
Others—we’re too afraid to go in headfirst,
would rather wait, dryly, to slake another’s thirst.

For more on the mechanics on sonnets, check here.

Public/Private disconnect (Sonnet) (With Elephant)

June 21, 2011


I hate to admit it but I’m kind of a solipsistic person.  It’s not that I don’t like people–I take a strong interest in trying to help others (particularly if it involves telling them what to do.)

But I am just awful in social situations – parties, gatherings, even sometimes work settings.  To some degree, this may have something to do with not being completely at ease with either my “public” persona or private persona.

At any rate, here’s a kind of gloomy sonnet about this kind of public/private disconnect.

Because I am now linking this post to dVerse Poets Pub Raising the Bar for critiquing, I am going to put up two versions of this poem, an older and newer.  (I think the older may be better, but it’s also the one with which I am more familiar.)   They are both a bit self-pitying, although that may be something that makes them universal.

The first is the older  version:


 After years, pretending to be what you’re not
becomes a nature;  a second skin
coating you like a kind of make-up, caught
in your pores, nestled in your grooves, a twin
of features, caked, you need not reapply.
But habits, faces, fail and it wears thin,
until, worn through, you can hardly try
anymore.  Too wary, weary, the word
“cagey” describes so much of what you’ve been,
the opposite of free-flying bird,
while unheard, and hardly there within,
is all you’ve been saving, what you hid, why
you did this, what wasn’t supposed to die.



After years, pretending to be what you’re not
becomes a nature;  a second skin
coating you like a heavy make-up, caught
in your pores, nestled in your grooves, a twin
of features, caked, you need not reapply.
Sometimes the habit fails, pretense wears thin,
that face that clung is suddenly wrung dry–
you don’t want to re-affix, but the word
“cagey” catches so much of what you’ve been–
the opposite of free-flying bird–
that, though you wish more than anything
to be seen, take wing; fretful, you still try
to keep tight all within.  Oh me.  Oh my.

If you are interested in my poetry, check out my poetry book, Going on Somewhere (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco, cover by Jason Martin) on Amazon.

If you are interested in my elephants, check out my children’s book, 1 Mississippi,  on Amazon.

National Poetry Month – Day 7 – “Oncoming”

April 7, 2011

Today I was kind of dry creatively so, in order to produce a draft poem,  I went back to one of my old rules–if you don’t have anything to write, try a sonnet!

I have purposely tried to use slant rhyme (not-quite rhyme), as I think sonnets can sound a little puerile if too rhymey.   For prior posts about sonnets,  check out this list.


There were one, two, three, four, trucks and we’d hit
sparks, some devilish configuration
of torque and stone, radii and slip,
that spit the car from its lane as from
the sea.  It bucked and dove, frantic, through
the waves of semis; to the right, the poles
of an overpass pulled to some untrue
North, as if to catch whatever souls
the semis missed.  We were on a visit
to a grandmother but I can’t recall
a greeting, meal, kiss, only that minute
that seemed sure to be our last, the haul
of those deep-sided trucks, my father’s swerves,
the way space looks, time feels, when fate uncurls.

Here’s an alternate last line:

the way space looks, time feels, in fateful curves

Though I think the poem might be better with a specific description.

Slopes (By The Hudson – Draft Sonnet)

September 24, 2010


Difficult days call for draft sonnets.   Here’s one written on the MetroNorth train up to Poughkeepsie, a beautiful ride along the shore of the Hudson River.

(This really is a draft, freshly minted; suggestions welcome.  I’ve used slant rhyme and, I’ll admit it, an uncertain rhythm though I do work with a certain foot count.)


On the Hudson, they’re almost horizontal.
(In the heart, their sheer drop takes the breath.)
At riverside, they wear a dusky mantle
as they carve out the only darkness
in the evening sky.  I am the kind of
person who wants to beg a dying friend
not to go, but keeps enough of the mind of
reason, science, skill, to make me bend
that hurting will to the speakable.
Still, it echoes in my soul–’don’t go, don’t go’.
Eating on the train, my lap a table,
outside, a sudden night blanks high and low,
slopes of grass and bank no longer seen,
only lights–across, here, there–and, where close, green.

29th Day of National Poetry Month – Poem In Your Pocket Sonnet – WhitmanBack

April 29, 2010

Whitmanback, not Greenback (or, as it appears, Rasputinback)

April 29th–the 29th day of National Poetry Month–is not-so-traditionally “poem in your pocket” day, a day when everyone is supposed to carry a folded-up sheet of poetry on their person.  (In my experience, the main people who celebrate the day are students with good English teachers.)   Here’s a draft sonnet in honor of the day:

For Poem In Your Pocket Day

Amazing to think of a poem in
one’s pocket in place of all currency–
cash or gun—a bartered verse to phone in
to your broker, negotiable fluency;
“Song of Myself” read for a credit check,
“Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”
serving for your OB.  For a higher tech
purchase, try a quote from Stephen Hawking–
not quite a poem but close enough—and
for those moments one faces something raw,
when, as they say, the going gets tough, and
life itself seems stuck in maw and craw,
what a gift to unfold one’s own scanned lines
and read in them word of other times.

F0r more on sonnets, look here, and also check out the poetry category from the home page.

23rd Day of National Poetry Month – Slant Sonnet About 22nd Day of National Poetry Month

April 24, 2010


23rd Day of National Poetry Month! Here is a sonnet written (oddly enough) about the 22nd day of National Poetry Month, that is, April 22, 2010, the day that Obama came to speak to Wall Street (though the poem is not really about Obama so much, or Wall Street, but just that particular day.)

Although the poem is, I suppose, technically a sonnet (it has fourteen lines), it uses slant rhyme and run-on lines rather than ending the lines with a rhyme or slant rhyme. (A slant rhyme is a “not-quite rhyme.”) This gives the poem an assymetry which tonight (I started late!), may be a function of lack of time, and fatigue; however, this assymetry can also be a useful tool as it avoids the cutesiness that can sometimes plague a rhyming poem.

April 22, 2010, NYC (Day of Obama Visit)

The meteor shower that I didn’t see
was seen yesterday, as was the fox outside
our country shed, painted white and faded green.
It ducked down in the spring grass, only orange spied–
orange-red. (Why they call it a red fox.)
But I drove down the FDR so early
I only saw the police and the blank box
of heliopad, waiting for the whirling
blur of polished light that seems to form
around anyone whose picture is taken
often enough. I saw too my cabbie’s worn
shirt collar (grey with black and white flakes of
contrast.) Wife was from Belize, he’d never
been. We talked of that by the dawn East River.