Published in Columbia Poetry Review Number 5, Spring 1992
Sonnet For Kafka’s Family
The pensive piano shudders under my calloused fingertips;
and for the moment, chromatic is a breezy metaphor for noise.
A car drags its muffler, and the romantic balladeer inside me
justifies this as rhythm. I whirl with ease. I am filled with
religious bourbon and the power to admit my shortcomings freely
with strangers, bankers, back-up singers, and daft runaways.
This is piss ecstasy! The whole reason why algebra corresponds so well
with my thighs. I once heard someone say that I was an approaching
carnival. Insult or not, this could be my funeral dress, or worse,
my orphan ego. On sombre days, I have misread this to be pure
shivers. It is the fate of the optimistic ichthyologist, like myself,
who spits half-heartedly at his or her inferiors. I could easily towel
dry these nocuous mumblings and package it into the realm
of forgotten health classes. On better days, my friends call me Chuck.
Hmm, looking back on this 25 years later, I must admit that I had to look up the word nocuous. I’m wondering if this is only a sonnet because it has 14 lines, and not the true structure of the Shakespearean sonnet.
I wonder what I was thinking back then. Technically, I probably wrote this in 1991, so I was probably mourning the death of Eric Clapton’s four-year-old son, and concerned about the Gulf War.