Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rejection

Continuing my week of depressing and moody sonnets (don't ask!)...

Rejection
by Gideon Burton

As heaven’s rivers overflow, cascade
In shearing cloudbursts gray as coal and cold
As wet and naked skin by wind betrayed,
A tumult of the elements grows bold
As timid earth its muddy meadows shrugs,
Then coughs in thickened rivers till their seams
Unweave fresh powers that with forcing tugs
Uproot the oak, bring down the trusses, beams–
So I have been a passive party, mute
In elemental resignation, calm
As nature’s fractured skies or hungry brute,
As ribby children holding up a beggar’s palm.
     As weather will explode then ebb and slow,
     The fury comes as sure as it will go.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - Roby Ferrari

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bad Memory

Bad Memory
by Gideon Burton

Forgiven, like the scab of closing weeks
already healing over months of heat
and anger, time digesting trim and neat
the vinegars we tongue with what we seek.
I have a story and its little threads
unravel every telling just as though
the gyroscope of fictions hadn’t set
the terms sufficiently. And though I bet
against myself the thickly kneaded dough
of memory supposes all is dead
that isn’t present, tea leaves steeped in blood
and hatred swilling in a local Thames
some tributary of my lost amens
alive to drying ruts along the mud.


Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - Silent Enigma[w.a.c.]

Monday, June 28, 2010

Withdrawn

Withdrawn
by Gideon Burton

If there are ways of waiting I have yet
to try, then tell me. Tell me anything,
in fact: pretend, perform, distract -- just set
a boundary, simple terms, or everything
contracts again against the inner bone
of herniated cartilage, this lump
of darkened tissue I am calling home,
some hinterland of smoke and jagged stumps.
I do recall the aftermath of griefs
observed too closely. They were pure enough,
provided nothing wrecked against the reef
of suffering in isolation's rough
and roughing prisons. Tell me what to say,
to do, today, to space the times I pray.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - jugbo

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Without Measure

Without Measure
by Gideon Burton

The birth of water, all that's hard and smooth,
The breath of stars, and all the winds of night,
Whatever heat lies sleeping in the grooves
Of glassy rock. Whatever moans in weighty might
Beneath dark oceans restless in their mass,
Across the folds of time unknown and lost,
The jungled eons stripped of all their past,
The desert's patience and the speed of moss,
More soft than shadows resting on our moon,
The rhythm of a billion breathing souls,
Too much, too late, too long, too far, too soon
The fire ebbing, smoldering in its coals--
    The vistas mourn, contract their awesome span
    As mornings measure me, again, this man.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - Iván Cabrera

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Mistress' Eyes (Kinetic Shakespeare)

I've recently been learning how to create kinetic typography using Adobe CS5 After Effects (see this video of my wife singing "Mad World," for example). Today, I thought I'd apply these tools to one of Shakespeare's more famous sonnets, #130. Shakespeare was imitating yet defying the Petrarchan tradition. Maybe that's what I'm doing with the Shakespearean tradition. What do you think?




Sonnet 130
by William Shakespeare


My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks; 
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
   As any she belied with false compare. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Dark Riders

The Dark Riders
by Gideon Burton

after César Vallejo's Los Heraldos Negros

I'll fix a time and watch for them to come,
the riders on their horses wet with sweat
and tight with ancient anger, something red
beneath the skin enough to wound or stun,
or numb you to the thunder of their hooves
igniting dust and throwing sparks of white
so high, so floating windy high that ash
and oil glow against the thudding crash
of riders coming, riding through the night
their noise descending, caulking seam and groove
with grainy soil, sand against the eye.
I held the moon from moving, silver light
a second sigh against the dusky blight
of craters swallowing my mute reply.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - still wanderer (adapted)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lack of Communication

Today I'm posting a sonnet composed by one of my students that I knew in India.

Lack of Communication
by Melanie Orton

At first display, this afternoon could claim
Serene and placid as descriptors -- but
The smiling sun inadequately tames
My wrestled speeches, quashed by lips sewn shut.
Though capable of lecture, witty tune
And quick debate; this tongue shall swiftly bind
While love or adoration cross my room.
My vice is not disdain in heeding sign
Of marked devotion. Nay -- indeed my breast
Is swell with bright and tender volumes writ.
Thus stilled by fear that words could ne’er attest
My soul’s intent, I fret. Yet I acquit
     Thee now, hushed voice, and dare this truth impart:
     I trust him for the keeping of my heart!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Revisions

Revisions
by Gideon Burton


Had there been other anchors to those words,
a stop -- a pause, a simple decrescendo -- 
some measuring of tempo. So absurd!
recasting how the phrases ought to end.
It's what we do, rehearsing what is past
rehearsing, over and yet present. Done.
But we undo the done, remix the cast
or misremember dialogue. We're stunned
if others don't approve our finished show
of memories reblended a la carte.
We never know just how the thing should go,
but afterwards, what care! what subtle art!
    Had I the wings to scale the azure skies
    I'd fall to earth just so I could revise.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - Anton Khoff

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Elijah Summons

Elijah Summons
by Gideon Burton

My children's children fanning out across
The decades, thriving in the fertile soil
Of time, will you remember us, the sweaty cost
We paid -- would pay again -- the daily toil
To raise your bodies to the sky, your eyes
To God? Do not unlink these tender bands
Of blood! For though we sleep, our living lies
In gentle generation, quiet, grand:
The babies, children, sisters, brothers, all
That we have cousined through our spreading reach.
Remember them, for through them we will call
To you, persuading though evading speech.
       Elijah summons now as to the past
       As time bends each of us from first to last.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - Sekaino Ai

Monday, June 21, 2010

When I consider how my light is spent

Milton is among my favorite literary authors, and this sonnet of his is particularly moving on the subject of having a desire to do something worthwhile yet feeling kept from it. Milton composed this in 1655, probably, after he'd gone completely blind several years earlier. This was twenty years before he finally composed the great poetry (Paradise Lost, etc.) for which he has remained famous.


When I consider how my light is spent
by John Milton 



When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Commanding My God

In the spirit of John Donne's Holy Sonnet XIV, I've previously composed other poems (like "Prune Me") in which the narrator takes a more direct approach in praying to God. This one ups the ante. Hope I'm not struck by lightning.



Commanding My God
by Gideon Burton

Be opulent with grace, a gaudy god.
Spread saffron calm so frothy, thickly sweet
that slumber tumbles, yawning to the beat
of surfeit certainties, celestial grog.
Inebriate the heavens with a smog
of milky ways, galactic with relief
in supernova renovation, brief
as parallax precession, twice as broad.
Do not be wholly ghost, be cosmic, grand,
thy Son a fusion furnace boiling sun.
Command these elements to prick and sting;
with blue tsunamis, baptize where I stand;
Send comet clusters down these heaving lungs.
Be subtle as dull winters slapped to Spring.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - brighter than sunshine

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Radioactive Frog

Radioactive Frog
by Gideon  Burton


I fed my frog uranium. Bad choice.
She's hopping mad, and I can't say I blame her.
There's something croaking awful in her voice,
and now I have my doubts I'll ever tame her.
It used to be her buggy eyes were blank,
but now they seem to radiate a passion.
This started out as just a little prank,
but something's changed about my froggy's fashion.
Her clammy skin was camouflaged with greens,
but that has changed; she blushes citric lava.
I fear the stuff has now rewired her genes;
her spit is spiked with alcoholic guava.
     Amphibian with orange electric skin,
     the aliens are now your next of kin.
    

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: CMU 3rd Year Studio

Friday, June 18, 2010

There is a Poetry to Dance



There is a Poetry to Dance
by Gideon Burton

There is a poetry to dance I sense
a poetry a dance of sounds of moves
toward the oh so subtle shuffled grooves
the flex of rhythmed muscle soft and dense
and fluid in its poetry its dance
of strutting utterance of tensions loosed
between among the partners as they boost
the breath the sweating mantras in this trance
this poetry this waltz of wonder bent
or bending sudden smooth dramatic harsh
defiant beating breaking blushing thin
to poetry's mute figuring what's spent
what's sparked what's laughing loose the scars
the chaos pausing pacing giving in.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - Eloy Ricardez Luna (adapted)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

So Many Years, So Many Bodies

So Many Years, So Many Bodies
by Gideon Burton

If rivers are those rivers still although
a decades' frothy springs with muddy rush
bring waters new that through old stream beds flow,
remaking banks and currents in its flush--
then are we yet ourselves despite the ebb
of cells in turn replaced by newer cells,
and all our nerves just thin recycled threads?
Our stomach flattens, or it bloating swells,
less stable than our scattered leaps of thought.
Our bodies sink or grow or twist with age,
resemblances with youth persist, but clot,
refashioned by our tears or joys or rage.
     This bag of time and flesh, my mutant frame,
     reframes me with its constant, changing game.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - Damon Duncan

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

For Ptolemy

For Ptolemy
by Gideon Burton


What if Copernicus himself were wrong
About the earth and sun? How many men
Or women skyward turn and study long
With instruments and charts so they'll know when
A tiny prick of light unravels all?
Or who have tamed the mysteries of math,
Abstractions that themselves cast deeper pall
Than midnight's starry field? A limpid bath
Of noonday light reveals our center sure,
Around whose fixed seat the sun, the moon
To billions have portrayed their coursing blur.
To say we turn around the sun, what boon?
        We bow to learned men and to their books,
        Though they defy how plain the cosmos looks.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr- Carolune

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

If Any Lacking Wisdom

If Any Lacking Wisdom
by Gideon Burton

An imitation of James 1:5
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."


If any lacking wisdom were to ask
of God--no matter the confusion and
despite how much anxiety had tasked
our troubled souls across the rocky span
of vexing ignorance--our Father hears
the plea, he sees the tears, and even though
solutions do not always come as clear
as all our wearing troubles seem to do,
he is a freely giving God, no stone
to offer to his hungry child, but peace
to send. Although we may yet feel alone,
in time the answers come with sweet release.
     This is at least the wick on which I burn,
     as I await the patience I must learn.


Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr- Personal Kaleidoscope

Monday, June 14, 2010

Verba

Verba
by Gideon Burton

Each letter has a shape, each shape a sound,
and every sound resounds on lips and tongue.
We taste the language smoothly, form it round.
We crave it, feel it, from the time we're young
enough to know the rhythmed consonants
as toys to play with, not as means of thought.
(Abstraction slackens, verbed in violence.)
We all pretend the sounds mean what they ought--
these breathy signs, these squiggles spilled in ink
are records of agreements old and new.
Within our minds they channel what we think,
but fail to reach beyond to what is true.
       They are but other bodies, formed to die,
       but leave us less than speechless as they fly.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - Marco Pelà

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Congregation

Congregation
by Gideon Burton

Their faces, lit by windows warmed by sun
that angles through the morning's weighting light
as laundered azure, cool as snowfall, spun
in skeins of atmosphere of alpine height.
Throughout the church the stirring silence spreads
among the listeners, afraid to breathe,
to miss the holy word as it is read
by God inside the preacher. Silence wreathes
the pews, foregrounds the ringing voice and then
again the silence, animal of God
that preys among the listeners who spend,
again, an onion's skin of reverence, shod
       with early, looming window rays, with rope
       that winds the pulpit thin with thickened hope.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - AllAboutMormons.org

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Goodbye, My Love

Goodbye, My Love
by Gideon Burton

I trusted you and now it's torn apart:
My happiness, and worse, my trusty truck.
You broke my new transmission and my heart,
And now my cash skeedaddles with my luck.
Oh, Cherry, one part reckless, one divine,
you turned my motor once, I do confess,
but how am I to pay your massive fine?
I'm dubious our gears again will mesh.
The wilted pistons are as good as dead,
and so is my affection, dear, it's true:
I picture your sweet face beneath my tread.
These things aren't fixed with kisses and some glue!
   Forget the church, I'm going off to Napa
   And as for you and me--it's in the crapper.



Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - Carin Fausett

Friday, June 11, 2010

Spring Rain

Spring Rain
by Gideon Burton


As often as the wetting skies descend,
massaging greening grasses, cooling air,
and bathing clean the atmosphere again;
so I will pause, and pausing will repair
my oversight of senses underfed:
how weighty water, incrementally
applied, forgets it is so densely spread;
how vapors spirit up from sidewalk seas;
how showers temper casually the skin
of afternoon, resolving minor chords
in major rays refracted by the thin
and misted mysteries that rain imports.
    As often as the seasoning of earth,
    so often wading wet in moistened mirth.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - MartyFM

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Alien Invasion


Alien Invasion
by Gideon Burton

The aliens descend with shrieking glee,
their saucers spinning hot with dire intent.
Their ray guns slice down people, buildings, trees;
no end of cosmic anger yet to vent.
Artillery is useless, as are bombs--
one might as well dry oceans with a sponge!
The siren screech of fire-fight is their song,
while those too close suck death into their lungs.
Bacteria, our microscopic friend,
you must arrest the Martians in their plunder.
The earth is ravished, we behold its end,
unless your subtle poisons do their wonder.
     The sky's alive with Armageddon's smell.
     Dark creatures, may you crumble into hell!

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - kevkerkev

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Abandoned House

Abandoned House
by Gideon Burton

Moreover, we found moonlight caught in rafters
And tangled helpless in the swirling dust.
The air was old, and yet it smelled of laughter,
Too thin to be distinguished from the must
Of silent decades, stones inside of stones,
Preserving echoes of the absent coals
That warmed the grimmest night of fear and bones.
The wreckage creaks, the breezes try each hole,
And winter weaves its fabric in the night
Of weakened spaces and forgotten chimes.
Walk quietly, try not to stir the spite
That time has gestured with its sluggish mimes.
       The house will have its reasons and its wood,
       A frame devoid of laughter's noisy good.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - dbnunley

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Gummy Bears

Gummy Bears
by Gideon Burton

The gumminess of gummy bears is vital:
too warm, too soft, they're but a viscous goo.
The opposite needs no profound recital:
too old, too hard, as tasty as my shoe.
One's teeth must squeeze and pierce, and yet rebound
(a tangy sweet's released as form resists).
The candy abdomens no longer round,
saliva's fast corrosions will insist.
At times they're squirming, squeaking as they die.
If so, their passing souls unmask all flavor.
Their little limbs dismembered seem quite spry.
Who'd think that amputations had such savor?
    My mouth has conquered zoos of hapless bears,
    and will again: no other sport compares.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - Rachel Lake

Monday, June 7, 2010

Watermelon

Watermelon
by Gideon Burton


What is the watermelon? I will say:
No reservoir of red and cooling fruit.
Do not be fooled when tissued sweetness sprays.
For heavens sake, don't gnaw it like a brute!
This rindish pod, this green ellipse of dew,
has swallowed rivers to preserve its ounce.
This garden sponge to just one thing is true:
a thirst that will on any droplet pounce.
I have a theory, pause and hear me out:
These lumpy water jugs are not from earth
at all, but come from distant lands of drought
to where they will return to ease that dearth.
     Before you smile and taste this summer treat, 
     remember, thirsty Mars has sent its fleet.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - S n o R k e l

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pressed Down

Pressed Down
by Gideon Burton
adapted from Luke 6:38


Pressed down, I feel, and altogether shaken;
these troubles running over without measure.
Where is, oh, Lord, that sweet and peaceful pleasure,
when centers hold and nothing feels forsaken?
Where what is given isn't quickly taken?
Is rest itself a selfish, earthly treasure?
No sacrifice is true if hedged by leisure?
No sleep if not by constant cares awakened?
There cannot be a measure to the giving.
The offering's not offered if it ends,
or even if we know its full extent.
What matter's not expired, delayed or bent.
Despite it all I'm not denied rich living:
there's ample grace through caring, loyal friends.



Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - john stodder

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Iamb, I Said

Iamb, I Said
by Gideon Burton


It matters where you put the stress. The beats
repeat their splattered bounce, their spluttered skid,
their scrambled rambling, roughshod shots. Amid
the coughing chaos, rhythming these cheats
with sounder sound, a grounding smooth and fleet,
the patter brought to pattern by a grid
of taming order, evening what slid
and balked its awkward way with heavy feet.
My rioting and writhing wording slows its jerks;
my syllables are mesmerized by flow
and ebb and ebbing flowing, tide by tide
by stress, unstress, a side-by-side that works
the knots and spiky kinks with gentle blows;
my fiery thoughts are tempered as I ride.

Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - normality relief

Friday, June 4, 2010

Night Mud

Night Mud
by Gideon Burton


The river swells, the muddy banks release
themselves in shelves, the moonlight clots and drops
along the coldly boiling surface. Creased
with oily smoke the sagging daylight fogs
with yellowing, with clenched and sour hours.
And now we speak, we whisper prayers, blank
as this renewed reproach against our powers,
the rain inside of rain along the shanks
of animals whose hooves have found that small,
that soft, that place that cannot further twist.
And now the water, damned, begins to fall,
the boulders bound, the currents grind to grist.
Whatever we had left of spite and shame,
and this we know and this we cannot name.



Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - zphaze

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Musings




Musings
by Jessica Anderson

She sits and draws faint lines within the sand
as sable grains grit soft across her palm;
her eyes are dark, the shadows-near command
the quiet muse of ocean's far-off qualm.
Horizon's clouds bright flash an evening glare
as fingers trace the shadows cool and light;
the wind begins to blow and empty air
impregnates sky with wind and drops of night.
Thoughts swirl as waters crash, a hurricane
of dancing doubts that tear within her mind;
sighs heave, breaths cry within the falling rain
with heavy hopes that never yet resign.
Soft, still she waits, her eyes in vespered form,
a muted witness to the perfect storm.



Photo: flickr - kavehkhkh

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

He Bares Our Griefs

He Bares Our Griefs
by Gideon Burton

adapted from Isaiah 53

He bares our griefs, the one who bears our grief,
uncovering the deeper, deepest wounds,
each secret sadness shrinking from relief;
revealing skies unlit by glowing moons.
The coldest sorrows, silent, beaten, stunned;
the aimless hungers, rotting us inside;
the good abandoned that we had begun;
addictions we let live that should have died.
For our transgressions, these, the ones that knife
our peace; for our iniquities that sting
and shred, disrupt and rupture living's life;
for felonies we force or others bring.
    He smites the fathomed black of our abyss;
    He burns and purges chaos with a kiss.


Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: adapted from flickr - vgm8383

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ocean

Ocean
by Gideon Burton

The woven ocean’s clothing, damp and dark, 
unraveling in chilling, ragged strands
that mingle freely with the fingers, hands
of twilight tailoring the cold and stark
concluding hours, tucking waves to shore
and mending mist with foam, with cloud, with folds
of saline patterned herringbone in cold,
enduring fashion.  Whether there is more
allowance given for the swells and tides,
I cannot specify, nor does there seem

an end to stitching crashing on the seams
that sew to the horizon black and wide.
     The fabric tightens, twines my mouth and eyes
     till I am drowned in Neptune’s laughing cries.



Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Photo: flickr - Captain Kimo