A Villanelle

Behold the sidewalk show
Now rolling into sight
The food carts come and go.

The tie-dye t-shirt rows
In tented vendors’ sites
Unfold their sidewalk show.

From dawn to evening’s glow,
From morning until night,
The food carts come and go.

The windshield ragmen know
To swoop in at the light:
We know their sidewalk show.

Below this slow tableau
Mute creatures feed and fight
Where food carts come and go.

The garbage dumpster crow
Circles and alights
To wrap the sidewalk show
As food carts close and go.

From my soon-to-be-published book
If Not for the Dog:
Light Verse and Sonnets, 1968–2022

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A Poem

All morning long the notion stalked my brain,
Covertly crowding out more lofty thoughts,
Replacing them and forcing me to strain,
Obsessing on the puzzle it had brought.

Such puzzles are traditional in rhyme:
The Bard himself was known to play the game.
Initially it left me lost in time,
Contriving to fit words into this frame.

Still, with the morning’s end the trail grew warm:
On stroke of noon I overcame this verse,
Long having puzzled with its sense and form,
Victorious at last — or say, at first.

Each brief beginning leading to this terse
Descending end of puzzle, pain, and verse.

From my soon-to-be-published book
If Not for the Dog:
Light Verse and Sonnets, 1968–2022

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A Poem

Far too fast
The present passed;
Tomorrow took its time.
The penny dropped,
The clocks all stopped
Abruptly in mid-chime.

The night before
The petrichor
Fell upward from
The forest floor:
The fragrant spoor
Of rains to come.

Before we felt
The sky’s slow melt
To afterglow
We saw its heat
In waves retreat,
In day’s outflow.

The rains will come,
The cold will numb.

The bitter treads
On the heels of sweet
On the road ahead
The tastes we’ll meet
When our eyes are deaf
And our ears are blind
And that desert night
When we failed to find
The Kordylewski clouds
For the gegenschein
But we still can smell
The rainbow’s rind
And the recess bell
From a softer time
While we still have these
We can still be kind,
While we still have these
May our minds not mind.

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A Poem

Cerebrum, cerebellum,
Medulla oblongata:
Somewhere in there I stashed away
What things I shoulda thoughta,

While areas of Broca,
Wernicke, and Brodmann
Allow me to articulate
What thoughts I’ve not forgotten.

The true, the just, the good:
I struggle to explain ’em;
Harder yet to say how could
The cranium contain ’em.

From my soon-to-be-published book
If Not for the Dog:
Light Verse and Sonnets, 1968–2022

--

--

A Poem

All morning long the notion stalked my brain,
Covertly crowding out more lofty thoughts,
Replacing them and forcing me to strain,
Obsessing on the puzzle it had brought.

Such puzzles are traditional in rhyme:
The Bard himself was known to play the game.
Initially it tangled all my time,
Contriving to fit words into this frame.

Still, with the morning’s end the trail grew warm:
On stroke of noon I overcame this verse,
Long having struggled with its puzzling form,
Victorious at last — or say, at first.

Each brief beginning leading to this terse
Descending end of puzzle, pain, and verse.

From my soon-to-be-published book
If Not for the Dog:
Light Verse and Sonnets, 1968–2022

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Michael Swaine

Michael Swaine

Editor-in-chief of the legendary Dr. Dobb’s Journal, co-author of seminal computer history Fire in the Valley, editor at Pragmatic Bookshelf.