There’s a reason I call this place a Sonnetarium. My second wife and I raised two children (step-children to me, and the biological father is just missing), we both worked fulltime, and, at the time I really started working with sonnets, we both played in a band—thank goodness, the same band. She does mosaic and quilting, the quilting entirely by hand. She likes to watch TV while she sews. I can’t write (nor can she design) with the tube on. She’s a former Army sergeant, horse trainer, and prison guard, and got tired of my complaining about time to write. “Fine,” she said. “You get an hour and a half alone every day. But you’d better show me something for it.”
So ninety minutes. I didn’t even know how to get started in 90 minutes, and after a week or so it looked like I was going to lose the time she’d generously granted me. It occurred to me that a sonnet has 140 syllables (about 70 words) and a structure which strongly suggests how and when you turn for home. There’s an end in sight, even at the beginning, and I found that immensely freeing. There have been times when for a month at a stretch I’ve been able to “finish” a sonnet every day—that is, get a rhymed and metrically proper (not polished) poem done without too much violence to ordinary speech. For two years I wrote practically nothing but sonnets; twice I posted nearly-daily sonnets online. Those were my first Sonnetaria.
And out of all that there came some good work, I think. I’ve collected 44 of those sonnets and put them into a homemade, handsewn chapbook cleverly called 44 Sonnets. (For a review that would make me blush if I had any shame, go here.) You can get your own copy either by trade or by clicking on the cleverly named “Buy Now” button at the bottom of the page, and here is this week’s sample sonnet from the chap:
My daughter’s learning how the planets dance,
How curtseys to an unseen partner’s bow
Are clues that tell an ardent watcher how
To find new worlds in heaven’s bleak expanse,
How even flaws in this numerical romance
Are fruitful: patient thought and work allow
Mistake to marry meaning. She writes now
That Tombaugh spotting Pluto wasn’t chance.
Beside her, I write, too. Should I do more
Than nudge her at her homework while I try
To master patterns made so long before
My birth that stars since then have left the sky?
I’ll never know. But what I try to teach
Is trying. She may grasp what I can’t reach.