poems as hand- and foot-holds on a glass mountain

April Sonnets


The sun’s one vivid eye above the rim
of April stirs a winter’s leavings free
long held in unreflective cold whose trim
fog skater sketches shapes our rivers seize
whose hardness drives us in upon ourselves
whose days release their numbers and become
a brief dawn promptly taken back and shelved
below horizons out of mind and dumb.

Yet April spreads her welcome and herself
the Sun is all eye, our eye and the sum
of seasons and beliefs of hope and cheer
of loss and sorrow spent to emptiness
of turning, and a hearty life begun
as singularly fresh as every year.


The self/world candidates are seasonal
a winter-hardened private mind below
thought; intimate, crude and unthinkable
spring’s leaping of desire, inconstant show
of not-quite-aimless grasping and belief
in elves and angels, devils, blooded saints
who take from us our worsts; a vast relief
as vampires buried their wicked hearts staked.

In summer when the sun stops and the thief
of time gives back its sources, movements faint
as spin of galaxies a billion light-years off
confront us with our limits, moments brief
in movement’s seasons fall and spring but plain
in unmoved winter, summer; hard, and soft.


This turning restlessness of hand and eye
that will not settle, wants what in a moment
it does not. Panting, longing, praise and cry
it wants what’s never likely; stilled but moved
a bloom remains as fresh as first adored
in winter’s April eye remembered so
but falsely, having yet to learn the score
that is not kept nor sought nor there to know

but in the learning. Seasons roll and we ignore
their speechless teaching only lately shown
to seeing eye and hand as only now
are born to proper function, to explore
with seed and root, with branch and blossom owned
as if, as if. We stumble on the ‘how’.


April’s all arrivals but her own
we hum her tunes in elevators, whistle
them on evening walks when streets become
wood-paths among tree-buildings, the gristle

of experience we’ve long spit out invites
us once to swallow. We’ve imagined all
of this, not out of nothing but the spritely
text is largely false except to use. Recall

the useless world below, above, within
that peeks at us in pauses we’ve allowed
that have abandoned uses for a thin
wisp of contentment we might follow

if the path itself weren’t blinding we’d untie
our blindfolds and unpatch that other eye.

2 Responses to “April Sonnets”

  1. A Sonnet Obsession

    Nicely done. I’m curious. Your ending is brilliant. Were these the first lines you wrote and you worked backwards from there?

    if the path itself weren’t blinding we’d untie
    our blindfolds and unpatch that other eye.

  2. place9011

    No, the last lines arrived late. I rarely write poems backwards, but often re-write them backwards. When a poem is ‘finished’, I often have a sense that it has been there all along, waiting for me to gather it in. This series of poem is influenced by my readings of Heidegger and Dogen’s concepts of primordial and derivative time, see Existential and Ontological Dimensions of Time in Heidegger and Dogen, by Steven Heine.


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