INTRODUCTION Preface: Word Sonnets...Seymour Mayne CONTENTS Word Sonnets by Seymour Mayne BELOW ZERO RICOCHET TOBOGGAN JESTERS ARMISTICE CALENDAR GROUND JUNE HEAT NEW CEMETERY HELLBENT FOSSIL FUEL NORTHWARD BOUND SALISBURY CRESCENT WOOD SLEEP GHOST LATTE EARFUL YIDDISH ABSENCE GARLIC MOTHER LODE CAT SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA CONNECTIONS GOLF ISTHMUS WHITE BIRCHES OMENS GUEST POST SCRIPTUM Bio note: Seymour Mayne
Word Sonnets Seymour Mayne Preface The word sonnet is a relatively new variation of the traditional form. In essence, it is a fourteen line poem, with one word set for each line. Concise and usually visual in effect, this "miniature" version can contain one or more sentences, as the articulation requires. Each of the word sonnets in the following sequences attempts to be a pithy and suggestive poem in its own right. Many draw on the seasons and also aim for a compact resonance that may attract the reader to return to them again and again.
Word Sonnets by Seymour Mayne BELOW ZERO ~~~~~~~~~~ Where do the wily birds perch when it is past midnight and below zero?
RICOCHET ~~~~~~~~ Go find something in the dark: snow reflected off itself, a ricochet of illumination.
TOBOGGAN ~~~~~~~~ The tongue is a toboggan barely resting long enough on ledges of frozen slope.
JESTERS ~~~~~~~ This is the checkered light which augurs the foul execution of fools and jesters.
ARMISTICE ~~~~~~~~~ Enjoy the dawn's enlightening armistice before our neighbours awake to plunder and despoil again.
CALENDAR ~~~~~~~~ She awoke Monday, it was April on the calendar, December on the snowcovered ground.
GROUND ~~~~~~ Who claims this honed silence where ice and rock have ground each other down?
JUNE HEAT ~~~~~~~~~ A flashback of snow shadows this thick lingering wind and curtain of humid light.
NEW CEMETERY ~~~~~~~~~~~~ The fresh green fills with stone carved names, each rising upright for immediate notice.
HELLBENT ~~~~~~~~ When Heaven got too crowded, a gang of griping angels headed for the basement.
FOSSIL FUEL ~~~~~~~~~~~ A million years of beetles take us north in convoys for one short weekend.
NORTHWARD BOUND ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A blur of green, lakes, middle sized mountains, asphalt-- and the border rushing closer.
SALISBURY CRESCENT WOOD ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ for Larry and Karin Eldredge Who can hold long the sliding slant of light angling green lustered holly leaves? Oxford
SLEEP ~~~~~ Reluctant to leave and holding on for dear life, sleep pulls shut our eyelids.
GHOST ~~~~~ You have slept thousands of nights without the tentative ghost of touch waking you.
LATTE ~~~~~ What exquisite sad taste, this latte thick with the mixed bittersweet chocolate of regret.
EARFUL ~~~~~~ Eerie, that earful of early sound and the sun silent floating up into dawn.
YIDDISH ~~~~~~~ Echo of whisper as distant ghosts in their millions dream the living into speech.
ABSENCE ~~~~~~~ The spirit returns like the light after long absence, after darkness and craving silence.
GARLIC ~~~~~~ Pungent to all things live, you revive the tongue to the praise of taste.
MOTHER LODE ~~~~~~~~~~~ Whose tart apple was it that suddenly brained Isaac Newton? Not God's but Eve's.
CAT ~~~ You look up, trying to figure me out. I've been at it for years.
SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ God knows, what streaks down from the skies-- a brave band across fallen flags. February 1, 2003
CONNECTIONS ~~~~~~~~~~~ Even with a lucky break or two, you can't get there without good connections.
GOLF ~~~~ A Martian may wonder, why wield shaped sticks just to bag a wee ball?
ISTHMUS ~~~~~~~ Ruffling the majestic winds of summer, cars briefly cross the isthmus of Lac Parent.
WHITE BIRCHES ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ for Linda and Neil Toulch Darkness need know no refuge as dawn uncovers the white birches sheltering Lac Parent.
OMENS ~~~~~ Birds script the auspicious calligraphy of flight as they arc, link sky and earth.
GUEST ~~~~~ You arrrive, book in, and no sooner learn to master the facilities you're leaving.
All Poems Copyright 2004 Seymour Mayne
Bio-note: Seymour Mayne is the author, editor or translator of more than forty books and monographs. His writings have been translated into many languages, including French, German, Hebrew, Polish, Russian, and Spanish. A selection of his biblical poems, The Song of Moses (1995), published in Canada and the U.K, was one of the earliest illustrated books to appear in an electronic (Internet) edition. His most recent collections include Carbon Filter: Poems in Dedication (1999), Light Industry (2000), a volume of humourous and satirical poems, and Hail (2002), a sampling of word sonnets. He has also co-edited the award-winning anthology A Rich Garland: Poems for A.M. Klein (1999), a celebration of one of Canada's most resonant poetic voices. He is the recipient of the J.I. Segal Prize, the Lockshin Memorial Award, the Fuerstenberg-Aaron Prize and other literary honours and distinctions. In 1990 he received an ALTA (American Literary Translators Association) Poetry Translation Award for his translations from the Yiddish. Seymour Mayne has given hundreds of lectures and readings at universities and other institutions across Canada, the U.S., and abroad. At the University of Ottawa where he serves as Professor of Canadian Literature and Creative Writing, he has supervised the publication of a series of sixteen annual anthologies of new writing. Over the years he has helped sustain the Ottawa and national capital literary community. Founder of the Sandy Hill Gang, he also co-founded the poetry monthly Bywords, the poster magazine Graffito, and for a number of years he served as mc of the popular poetry reading venue, Bard.
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