Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dark Sonnets at 7 Kilorats

The spam bot attack seems to have calmed a bit, so I dare to post something new. I must delete the false posts by hand to keep this blog protected from being used as an advertising zombie.

So what momentous occasion has strengthened me to post again? You guessed it, depression. I began to slide around New Year's and of late it's become intense. I couldn't even talk to my sister or brother on the phone without crying, having to catch my breath to talk. I don't know if my older brother has ever heard me cry as an adult, and my sister has only witnessed it on rare occasions when my self-control could not hold. Kathleen, of course, hears it all the time.

I apologize on behalf of the other blog I started in a moment of normal mood--Best Poetry Online. My judgment is presently impaired regarding choices so I must postpone the resumption of that blog until I'm better--or not. Truthfully my judgment isn't so bad about others' work, just my own, which I find wholly execrable in depression, so perhaps it's just a lack of energy and hope. It takes me forever surfing the net to find one poem I think worthy of noting. So much passable stuff, so little outstanding. Much intelligence and little genius.

The best poem I wrote in the last year, IMHO, "The Whole Thing," was just rejected by Rattle after they had held it for two months and given me hope. More and more I get these notices, "I really liked this poem but the other editors..." as if everything is being selected by committee, the same process that produced an elephant or a camel, I can never decide. Such a democratic imposition on the selection process must militate against the most original poems, one would think. It takes one editor with vision to find something truly unique.

Below some sonnets I dashed off yesterday and today. Dark sonnets identified only by number. Not up to the standard of Gerard Manley Hopkins but what do I care? They are therapeutic exercises as I resort to formal verse when depressed.


Once more this grinding anxiety of mind
Galls itself, one plate wears down another.
The dust of dueling surfaces will find
More gears to infiltrate, more smooth to smother.
I put a stethescope upon my crown
To eavesdrop on the stuttering machine.
I hear nothing but silence in the town
Save for the jukebox skipping in routine.
I think of pills and blades and guns and cars
All useful in their way, pushed to the max—
As in my ragtop headed for the stars
Beyond the guard rail at Big Sur. Relax.
I have no plan, I will endure this rape
With dolls’ eyes and a positive thinking tape.


I’m swallowed by the groaning of the reef
At one more wave’s untiring onslaught.
I listen to a chain saw for relief,
A brighter racket than my pounding thought.
You who stand there—do you think in straight lines?
Do thoughts follow another, hand-to-hand?
Or is it that your insight’s without spines
Like a sea urchin’s skeleton on sand?
Vanilla life, vanilla in your veins,
Uncomplicated, unexamined days--
If only I could tender you the reins
To my life, would I sail through the quays
Sipping a gin fizz, waving to the shore?
I’d give my soul for your whitebread rapport.


Persecutor, victim, does it matter?
Logic self-destructs in such a mood
When self rags on itself in petty chatter
Begging only for the hangman’s hood.
To stand upon the platform with a noose
Is all I ask of life or hope of death.
The world’s wheels moved—I’m the caboose
Left on the track, far from the engine’s breath.
Gather the spikes you used to lay the rails,
Gather the beams, the workmen, engineers,
Tell them that in all of life’s travails
A man is just the sum of his worst fears.
It suits me to be left behind, to rust.
Why couple with a train I cannot trust?


Here is my soul inside a water drop.
Place it on a slide, adjust the scope.
Look at all the creatures in that slop!
Crazy how life proliferates in hope.
Which corresponds to me? Bacterium
Stained blue, gram positive and walled?
Or is the dynoflagellate delirium
Of tendrils a better fit for the appalled?
Job wished he’d been aborted; I understand.
There should be limits to what man can suffer.
Unfortunately there’s no manual at hand
To say, “He’s had enough, don’t make it tougher.”
I’ve got more courage than the average bear.
If only it were more use in despair.

To any readers still following this blog, my thanks, and comments are always salutory as they assure me I am not entirely alone in the ether.

7 Kilorats,



  1. Hi Craig,
    So sorry you are feeling low. I enjoyed reading these sonnets, and hope the creative efforts are helpful to your mood. You are not alone. You have many friends and admirers!

  2. Thanks, Mark, even if I were in Baja diving with you it would only be a distraction from the central enchilada of my bad chemicals. People who haven't been where I am usually don't understand, but I think you do. I'm grateful for that. It's not as if I'm a coward, far from it. It's just that the enemy is from within and genetically determined. What I wouldn't give for a brain not subject to this curse!

  3. Craig-- No, you're not alone. I visit regularly and enjoy your work (And yes, I bought your book.)

    Sorry to hear you're not feeling well. I'm pulling for you.


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