Three Sonnets

I. Word House
Where Amherst’s hermitess had bitten
The Puritan tongue with reproof,
Spokane now speaks such song, begotten
As rain, pronounced as raftered roof,
Refined as wine in cooling cellars.
What whirrs there through the threshold’s pillars?
It sounds to be a potter’s lathe
That spits out earthen sparks to bathe
The night with reason: words are shelter
For faith which palates reach with speech
Like star to planet, wave to beach.
The mystery of diction’s altar:
In stormy house, a world of calm –
In sonnet’s hovel, castled psalm.

II. Beard Nest
A formal nudity is shameless
Because the body knows what lust
Denies to serve: the many nameless
Conspiracies of love that nest
Like birds within the beard of Jesus.
Will darkened theaters cease to please us
(More known than knowing) just because
The plight of Job excites applause
For pleasure’s picture show? With Satan,
The naked frame reveals; but beer
Is found as near to elbow’s cheer
As language brewing roots in Latin –
And here, a man and woman found
A common tongue on common ground.

III. Water Board
The sifting surf is sorting shingles
Upon the beach. The clashing sounds
Of armies, ignorant as angels,
Is drowned as holy rage compounds
The wave that builds. But you know, fuck it.
A man can throw up in a bucket –
So justice gains what mercy lost –
A man can take his licks on a post –
So blood and history are bonded
As Adam waxes up his board
Now bounden where he lay, a lord
At play. Sea-savaged and up-ended,
He’s framed by grace – and tries to name
Its aspect ratio to fame.


  1. Jonathan Webb says

    Great poems. Thanks.

  2. Jonathan Potter says

    These give me a big fat grin, with a capital K. Nicely done.

  3. Quin Finnegan says

    I actually grew a beard this winter, right after the Percy conference. Having failed utterly to rectify my behavior, I thought I might try at least looking like Jesus, like those hippies in olden times. I shaved it off for summer. Maybe I’ll grow it back next year for Lent.

  4. Quin Finnegan says

    Excellent poems, by the way. Shameless & Nameless and Satan & Latin are awfully nice moves.

  5. Quin Finnegan says

    I don’t remember anybody throwing up in a bucket in SwM. But it does show up in Bird’s Nest!

    • I throwing up in a bucket is involved in SOME way with SwM. A sort of cathartic foundation, as it were…

      Also, I thought it might suggest Gibson’s sauce problem…

      Also, while I’ll admit that I was lucky in this instance, I attempted to interweave themes from one sonnet to the other – so it fits nicely!


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