Sonnet 1


I started to write sonnets in April of 2003. That March, George Bush with the approval of Congress and a whole lot of American people invaded Iraq. I was very opposed to this at the time and still am. I think my urge to write sonnets came out of this anger and helplessness. I had to be in control of something and sonnets are short; no long term discipline as in novel-writing was needed; and nobody, not even George Bush and his idiot war, could stop me from writing them.

I was in Pennsylvania visiting my folks in the South Mountain. It was April, what seems in so many ways the beginning of things. I brushed up on the rules of sonnet writing in the Encyclopedia Britannica, and then sitting at the spring house, looking at the skunk cabbage and the watercress beginning to grow in the sparkling stream, the first sonnet came to me. I’d been reading a book of poems by Bill Kushner called That April when I found a tick crawling on my neck, a poem out of disparate things.

1

Looking at the springs, sitting in the sun
something at my nape begins to tickle
like the wind’s moving a hair there, fickle
on my bare neck between the scalp and trunk.
I’m reading the poet Bill Kushner—Ah!
His April Poems are wonderful to hold.
It’s April and I’m here with Bill—But no
Something’s crawling on my skin. Is it? What?
I scratch and it vanishes like a thought
forgotten, but it’s not. It walks. I pick
from my neck a beautiful round red tick
with many tiny moving legs, enough
to turn my thoughts from Bill to blood and death.
It knows I’m here, where I wanted to rest.


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