General Poetry posted May 20, 2017


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A Crown of Heroic Sonnets for the contest

Forget Me Not

by tfawcus

Write a Crown of Heroic Sonnets Contest Winner 
1
Roots curl around the moisture of cold stone,
when shy forget-me-nots, whom death deceive,
defy belief, as they take life on loan
in fissures, where, tenaciously, they cleave
to hope, despite their half-starved circumstance,
and still put forth their precious stars of blue.
Such plants push past the stone where, at first glance,
one might expect a life of paler hue.

Because the mortar's cracked, these steps sustain
a garden wilderness of displaced seed
that winds of chance have dropped, then fates ordain
their task, to bring to barrenness their creed,
by thrusting roots to dampness found below,
when summer heat beats down like molten gold.
For, with determination, all can grow,
despite the tenuous nature of their hold.

It's in adversity we often thrive
against the odds, intent to stay alive.


2
Against the odds, intent to stay alive,
this house, that's built of local quarried rock,
has stood the test of time, to still survive;
well-built to stand the ticking of the clock.
Its porch (alas, of wood!) is honeycombed
with rot; its rheumy eyes turn to the coast,
some panes, that creak and groan, at last succumb
to winds that haunt them, howling like a ghost.

They inwards fall, exposing yawning gaps
where birds come in to build their nests of straw
in long discarded hats, well lined with scraps
they scavenged from a half-forgotten store
of bric-a-brac, and there they raise their brood.
An east wind blows through gaps in broken tiles,
and rain now stains discarded things accrued,
consigned to 'may be useful sometime' piles.

Vague memories of better days live on,
like echoes, though their usefulness is gone.


3
Like echoes, though their usefulness is gone,
a set of clubs, used ninety years ago
by father, when his golfing prowess shone;
his niblick glints to catch the golden glow
as sunset casts its shadow on the past.
Then cold condenses drops of night-time dew,
old gutters weep their silent tears of rust,
and yellow eyes in hollows whisper, "Who?"

When morning comes, the stone soaks up the sun,
and I ascend the steps to reach the door,
intent to renovate - a task begun
in mind, a year or two ago, before
the rats moved in and lined their ceiling nest
with warm alpaca fleece I meant to spin
but stored against some day to come, less stressed;
a fate that met my uncle's mandolin

that leans against a wall with silent noise,
untuned (as is my focus on such joys).


4
Untuned, as is my focus on such joys,
I look about, and wonder where to start.
My eyes light on a chest of childhood toys;
the ancient chest and toys both claim my heart.
So they, and almost all the rest, are stored
elsewhere while work begins. A soul resides
in most such things that we are apt to hoard;
a lifetime's worth of memories besides.

And so it is with this old porch, ingrained
with love. Its timbers came from early ships,
constructed with a craftsman's care and stained
with sweat. Though life was hard, they came to grips
and carved a home from local stone and wood,
with simple hand-held tools and joiners' arts
now seldom used, or taught, or understood.
I took good care; dismembered all the parts

with due regard for how to build again -
such lessons of the past are not arcane.


5
Such lessons of the past are not arcane,
for secrets locked in death are manifest
with careful observation, to unchain
the sequence, as the building is undressed.
But that undressing done, it's time to act,
with dovetailed love, ingrained, to give new life,
yet keep the soul of yesteryear intact,
with younger woods withstanding nature's strife.

At last the frame is up, built true and square.
New panes are pinned to muntins, puttied in.
The matchboard's painted bright, no longer bare!
The roof, like us, is galvanised, with tin-
tinnabulations ringing out, "Rejoice!"
When rain pelts down, and I am safe inside,
with shelter from the elements - give voice!
The ocean's surge and swell's demystified

when through the pane, the swaying trees are seen
extending echoes of new life again;


6
extending echoes of new life again,
in peaceful rocking days where horses trot,
then gallop by, with urgency insane,
while old men dream their lives away and rot.
Perhaps, in years to come, when I am frail,
a kindly nurse will place my bed out here,
So I can see the sea before I fail.
Though mists obscure, a wider view is clear,

across the flower beds and greening lawn,
to stables, where the mare's about to foal,
and out to sea, now eventide and calm,
a yawning void where night's celestial pole,
reflects the crux of life, a Candlemas
of stars, fomenting universal birth,
a shattered ceiling, shards of broken glass,
a crystal goblet, dashed with godly mirth.

Upon this stoep, a table and two chairs;
an empty one and one that's filled with fears.


7
An empty one and one that's filled with fears?
Are these for phantom guests, forgotten ghosts
that hover over my declining years?
At length, the circle's closed; there's Death to host
and entertain. We share the good things spilt,
the random seeds of thought that grow and thrive
to soften sharper angles I have built
for sake of symmetry, to house my lives.

Kaleidoscoping nights merge into days
with time-lapse clouds that scud away; a grim
montage, a fleeting glimpse of life erased
no sooner than it's felt - a phantom limb.
When life is on the ebb and thoughts are blue,
and rheumy eyes detect a blur of Heaven,
I'll contemplate these years of richer hue,
forgetting not the smaller gifts we're given.

This precious life's on loan, and when it's done,
roots curl around the moisture of cold stone.

 


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Glossary:
Niblick: a golf club, an iron with a lofted head, used especially for playing out of bunkers (Such terms were used in the years before WW2)
Arcane: understood by few; mysterious or secret
Muntin: A muntin is a strip of wood separating and holding panes of glass in a window.
Tintinnabulation: the lingering sound of a ringing bell that occurs after it has been struck.
Fomenting: instigating or stirring up
Stoep: verandah (South African)

The Crown of Heroic Sonnets is a sequence of seven heroic sonnets usually addressed to one person. It is concerned with a single theme and each sonnet explores a different aspect of the theme and is linked to the preceding and succeeding sonnets by repeating the final line of the preceding sonnet as its first line and by having its final line be the first line of the succeeding sonnet.

The first line of the first sonnet is repeated as the final line of the final sonnet thereby bringing the sequence to a close.

A Heroic Sonnet is an iambic pentameter based poem that adds a heroic couplet to either two Sicilian octave stanzas or four Sicilian quatrain stanzas. In other words, it's eighteen lines of iambic pentameter broken into three or five parts with the last part being a couplet. The rhyme scheme has usually been a,b,a,b,a,b,a,b - c,d,c,d,c,d,c,d - e,e OR a,b,a,b - c,d,c,d - e,f,e,f - g,h,g,h - i,i.

Image courtesy of https://reclaimingparadise.wordpress.com/tag/weeds/
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