Sonnet for Ankh

This morning I got up, put on a pot of coffee, and re-read Auden’s Musee des Beaux Arts (Hank’s mention), followed by William Carlos Williams’ Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. The pumps all primed, I wrote this sonnet and posted it to my blog to commemorate our time together at the Beaux Arts Library of Congress.


Now I have all the fountain pens I need:
one stores empyrean blue – I save it
for ceremonies; two for writing poems
use my private mixture of navy blue
and forest green – I call it navy green;
and one to highlight when and where I read –
its name is firefly (but truth be told,
I add a drop of navy green for depth
and taste). There are complaints each time I mix
my inks or fill my pens – imagine if
I were a painter? But that logic
gets me no consolation. Horace wrote
about a link between the two. Again,
no sympathy inside this loving house.


On the 70th anniversary of The Nakba

In this country of my birth
there was once a rich tradition,
a celebration of public protest
against tyranny and oppression:

Sic semper tyrannis.

Today it serves no purpose
to shout or scream in the streets.
No moral cause has value. Still,
in solitude, a few softly sing:

Sic semper tyrannis.

In grief my hand is stuck
to my forehead – muscle memory –
a learned response. Yet deep,
yet deep inside, we remember:

Sic semper tyrannis.


Top Hits of NaPoWriMo2018

Based on a composite score of # of likes by other bloggers, # of visitors and # of views, here are my best hits of April 2018:

Day #2 – voice and song

Day #5 – translation

Day #7 – layers of identity

Day #17 – The scene setter (8 of 15)

Day #20 – Narcissus

Day #23 – sonnet

Day #26 – five senses

Day #28 – WHCA Dinner

Day #30 +1 – End of NaPoWriMo

The Swamp

(Walking to the Capitol South metro around 9pm.)

Fil: Ewww! What’s that smell?

Ray: It’s the swamp,
it’s underneath us,
it’s all around us.

Fil: But this is Capitol Hill.
I never smell this in Foggy Bottom.

Ray: Distractions take your mind off it.
But it’s there.

Ray: In Foggy Bottom the swamp is very near,
just fifteen feet or so beneath the asphalt.
They spray to tamp down the smell.
Every now and then swamp creatures
escape through manholes.

Fil: So that’s what those creatures are.
Thanks for mansplaining that!

End of NaPoWriMo 2018 sonnet

I know this coffee’s gonna be the end
of me. I’ve weathered storms, outlived a few
of my best friends and my worst enemies.
Each day I write a poem. Most are garbage
that revisions cannot save. Still, the past
fades and the future beckons – poetry
to write for the living and the unborn,
for those yet to come, and their tomorrows.
Two pennies in my pocket, two gold coins
to pay for the passage, two wings to veil
my face. We are going to the City:
a new level of organization,
a higher plane. Y’all know what all it means.
Put on your life vests. The ride is bumpy.

#NaPoWriMo – Day 30: odd piece of history

First they tell you:
“Don’t take any of this
personally –
it’s not about you.”

Then they say:
“There’s plenty of blame
to go around,”
as if that provides
some sense of community,
some consolation.

Then they go silent –
and in your solitude
you begin to question things,
even to doubt your own self.
They hope you’ll self-destruct.

In the end, if you survive,
they call you in and say:
“Mistakes were made.”
But they never admit
they did a wrong thing
and they never say
the magic words:
“I’m sorry.”

#NaPoWriMo – Day 29: the Tarot card

Did you see his halo?Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 9.44.49 AM
His choice to be there
cannot be denied. No frown
or grimace is on his face.

He is focused on a Great Work.
His gallows forms a cross –
his legs a different cross –
he is Odin – the 12th trump

in the Tarot Deck.
12 signs in the Zodiac –
12 stars for Europe –
12 members on a jury –

12 months in a year.
His halo is burning brightly.