Category Archives: Sonnets


No frozen ground-swell damages my wall,
And all the warrens have been hunted out.
My neighbor’s apples withered in the drought,
While since the fire I’ve got no pines at all.
What woods are left are never filled with snow,
Nor crossed by grassy paths just wanting wear.
I seldom stop; the thought that strikes me there
Is how I rue that no more hemlocks grow.
Some say the world will end in fire, while some
In water that erodes the shore defense.
From what I’ve seen so far of man’s good sense,
I doubt it matters much. The end will come.
So all our wealth and words will wash away
Or burn to ash. For nothing gold can stay.

(Originally posted on a thread on climate change on Making Light)

On the birthday of Will Shakespeare

The happiest of birthdays to thee, Will!
(As happy as they are that come around
When once the honoree is underground!)
The wormy company has had its fill,
The water in the crypt has washed your bones
And bleached your gravecloth napkin snowy white.
The silver of your buttons, polished bright
Lie scattered in the casket ‘neath the stones.
But like a crowd of guests that will not leave
The half-cleared dining table, talking on
Until the night wears thin before the dawn,
Your readership remains, for we believe
Our dreadful sonnets might just raise your ghost
To raise a glass and join us in a toast.

Originally posted on Making Light, where it spawned a substantial number of sonnets. So I wrote another one praising the people who joined in:

The ghostly Bard reloads the thread again
He knows he should be working on a script
But no one sees he’s surfing in his crypt
And he deserves distraction now and then.
The iPad gets a signal even there
(Will Shakespeare ever was Teh Shiny’s slave
From words to gadgets, even in the grave.)
Then from the crypt, a cry of deep despair.
“I thought she said the sonnets would be bad,
So I could take a break, and have fun haunting
All who defiled my art! I’d hover, daunting
The versifiers! Drive them mute and mad!
But I can’t punish these instead of work.
I wish they’d write some trash so I can shirk!”

Tentacle porn sonnet

Haven’t written a sonnet in a while, but this one just fell out of the keyboard.

The family was mortified, of course.
His wife surprised him, coming up behind
him quietly. She thought she wouldn’t mind
If he was surfing porn, but this was worse.
He minimized the window, stammered out
Excuses: “Only once, it doesn’t mean
A thing, and it just popped up on the screen!”
And then he turned all serious, the lout.
He straightened up his tentacles and said,
“I love you, but I love these women more.
I slip myself into their hidden caves
And Kraken-like, create such mighty waves
That they are shipwrecked, storm-tossed on their shore.
I dream at night of skin devoid of suckers
I’m one of them, my dear: the human-fuckers.”

Posted on Making Light

First frost

The first frost, whitening the grass today,
Surprised the summer’s final cloverheads
And scattered them with diamonds as they lay
Like amethysts beside the cattail beds.
The mist moves like the Lord upon the face
Of silver waters ruffled by the wake
That trails an onyx grebe. The pearly lace
Of clouds drops sunbeams on the waiting lake.
But still the rows of indecisive trees
Stand dithering between the green and gold,
As if they’ve months to go before the freeze.
So, muddy-leafed, they watch the fall unfold
And wear this day the way that little girls
Play dress-up in their mother’s finest pearls.

(Originally posted on Making Light)

A sonnet on Google Wave.

The sea has depths in which no net is cast,
With trackless kelpine forests where great squid,
Like Sasquatch in his mountains safely hid,
Dance dreaming with the fishes swimming past.
And human interaction is the same.
Beneath an email surface lies the deep:
Unmodeled work and social patterns creep
And spread in ways existing tools don’t frame.
If all that data made a single stream
(Instead of tossing users to and fro
Among their applications), it could flow
To ever-mounting heights: Hokusai’s dream.
It sounds like fun. I must confess I crave
To grab a board and surf the Google wave.

Originally posted on Making Light.

The sonnet muse is back from her vacation

In reply to a recent sonnet by Fragano Ledgister:

To make a thing, to bring it into being
Is intimate, like making love. The verb’s
The join, for making either one disturbs
A universe where knowing comes from seeing.
I dream a thing that doesn’t yet have form
Is risky as I love you. Both require
A trust that one’s interior desire
Is strong enough to make the world transform.
But reformations of the universe
Alarm a fair few folk. My age is cause
To say I mustn’t meddle with what was.
And thus they have a reason to reverse
That instant when I took the world apart
And re-assembled it to match my heart.

Originally posted on Making Light

Rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock

The lizard rests and thinks it’s quite alone
Since now that pesky Spock lies poisoned by.
But then the twisted scissors catch its eye
And darting to evade them, it meets stone.
For poisoned Spock, before it was too late
Was briefly vanished from the universe
Then, in a sudden, startling reverse
Returned when his disproof the lizard ate.
The stone, with reptile innards slimed, in paper
Now is wrapped. And thus it blunts the blades
Of snipping, snapping scissors. Then it fades
As phaser-blasts reduce its bulk to vapor.
I know the winning choice is purely random
But entry and amusement run in tandem.

Originally posted on

Two roads diverged, and I missed it

Two roads diverged (as they so often do)
Not in a yellow wood, nor anywhere
Where I could look down each, and muse, and stare,
Compare the leaves and how the grasses grew.
Indeed, there was no choosing when they split—
I didn’t really see the fork at all.
It’s only looking back that I recall
There was a better way, back there a bit.
I could be telling this, in ages hence,
And sigh for roads not taken, chances lost.
But pausing to regret has its own cost
In present choices missed at my expense.
What I intended once, I cannot be,
But I am all that’s possible for me.

Originally posted on Making Light

The Culture and Arrakis

What would happen if a Culture ship turned up in orbit around Arrakis?

The Mentats would be up in arms, of course, at the presence of an AI. The Bene Gesserit would try to control the Culture, and be overwhelmed. The Navigator’s Guild would strike at the prospect of ships that didn’t need them. The Empire would convulse in a jihad it could not win, against a target that didn’t care much what it did.

The Culture would be unaffected. Spice would become a fashionable drug for a while on some ships, then fall out of vogue. Even true foretelling becomes uninteresting with no disasters to avert.


While questing through the timelines undefined
They say the Muad’Dib beheld a ship
No navigator steered while in the grip
Of worm-bred spice. The pilot was a Mind
Constructed like a man’s, but smarter still.
Its crew were men, but fattened with excess.
A culture without want, without distress
To test a man, to strengthen mind and will.
The Kwisatz Haderach then closed his hand.
For he who sees all roads can pick his way:
Which branchings to ignore, which let to stay.
This path he blocked, as if with drifting sand.
A lucky man, who may his jihad choose
Forknowing which he would most surely lose.

Originally posted on Making Light

Chop wood, carry water, pray

“Chop wood, carry water, pray” is a descriptor of practical religious practice that appeals to me quite strongly.

“O fire-feeding corpse of fallen tree,
Which now my granite-sharpened axe doth hew
(And may it cut like Justice, straight and true):
I praise thy Maker as I’m chopping thee.”
“O swiftly-flowing water, bright and clear,
Containéd in my pot like Grace once poured
Into a human soul by our dear Lord:
May thou be twice as sweet, though half as dear.”
The bell for Vespers rings. I calmly kneel,
Not praying, really, just inventing praise.
But then the silence comes, and phrase by phrase
Reclaims my wasted words, and makes them real.
And thus the evening justifies the day:
I learn to chop wood, carry water, pray.

Posted on Making Light.