Wild Sonnets 11-20

– 11 –

Pygmalion and his prize: the reverie
In reverse. A figment first in marble,
And the fancy after, love making
The lifeless real while the gods grant both
The woman and the wish. Our craft is
Opposite – as beauty begs of us a form,
To peal from nature first, firm once and warm.


The gift of our design is like a death,
That from the skin and scrape of tissue steams
The airy essence of the soul, or those
Transformations made of old, Narcissus
Bending by the pool, or Echo listening
In the voice and volley of her constricted cell,
Repeating what we are, and know too well.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 12 –

Wish not for things that come with speed –
Catastrophe has the quicker wing, and lowers
In its flight where you would be lifted.
True benefaction falters, is slow of step,
Builds its pilgrimage of patience, halting
Where the worst would run, and later – but not late,
Comes by place and prize by knowing where to wait.


Things so determined are not so
Because the object and the end glint far
Beyond. The mind maintains a trophied hold,
Where winning is not the thing it wants,
Though winning comes – the feel of forward,
And the lessening that momentum means,
Divides a distance built of in-betweens.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 13 –

Each soul, an instance of the strange divine –
Now bodied forth as metaphor and means,
Where sense and season both, in brief, reveal
The hand of revelation on the left,
And on the right, the real. We are mad
In expectation, and in where we settle, sane,
With reason to rejoice in loss, and grieve in gain.


This magic makes us, and our talent then in turn
Is a witchery we too easily condemn
In our opinion’s pinion and the pyre,
Forged more with our forgetting than with fire.
Better then to burn at every moment first,
Content with this conversion at the end:
Where soul or body sink, the other will ascend.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 14 –

Our larger time is left – what we have wasted
Is little and matters so. Measure then the action
And event – for whatever towering is made
By man or nature, has firm foundation where
The eye beneath will never see – the riven roots,
Will never know the upward weight they raise,
Blind to its best marvels, and earless to its praise.


Learn then that gain is by gradation,
And triumph is by trial collected.
All that seems apart from purpose is
A part of purpose still, wonder though we may
Between the days of wandering and will –
What we set out for first, when at last set down,
Will not be written in our difference or renown.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 15 –

In bitter medicine lies the better cure,
And antiseptics with their sting heal more
Than creams and comfort. Where pleasures mingle,
It takes one pain to drive another out –
As therapy’s truth is mathematical –
Where negatives contend, a plus appears,
Being sometimes the fever that a fever clears.


With this, I turn my judgment on itself,
And hope the critic’s eye can still
The toxin and the tongue of my critique.
What is well-spoken will fathom from the well
From which we speak – and no man knows
If his chosen words have chosen him
To prove eternity can turn – upon a whim.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 16 –

Though intricate the rules of grief may be,
What could ever govern such a thing?
Collapse, though quiet, has its chaos too,
And worse, to stand in judgment of the broken,
Itself is judgment breaking. Dirge has its dance,
Though slow and simple, still it persuades the air
To move in majesty with one’s despair.


The only loss that loss must learn to bear
Is of itself, as of emptiness, in being
Emptied, finds in its meaning fullness,
And in its fullness what meaning means
To be renewed. But if sorrow refuses
To submit to law, how reckless will it find
The state of joy, which nothing yet can bind?


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 17 –

The arc of our abilities may brace
In our imagining more than the day can hold.
Desire speaks more than our deciding dares,
And acquisition’s eye finds in the field
More targets than our quivering contains.
With all our imperfections in their prime,
Our loves arrive with more intent than time.


Circumferenced so, the art of choosing
Is bugle both and musket to the scattered hunt.
A chase wherein the haunted quarry fades,
A panic after a periphery –
A hopeful opening that ends in shades.
It is only with these wild directions done,
That with so many lost, find where we have won.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 18 –

Were there a Latin to distinguish
What we have loved from what is left –
A vernacular, yet consonant and kept
By we who are still fluent with the faded,
A lettering of rust and recollection,
A script of wreckage and remembering,
That knows a language lost still longs to sing.


Then shall we speak of things known to us only,
That in spite of syllables archival,
Still breathe and burn. Our words were early once,
That now in oratories of the old
Scratch in ink their parchment praises of the past.
Where we who are translated to another tongue,
Converse within to makes time’s language young.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 19 –

The grit of it gone – the charm and chisel
Absent, the mornings sculpted from sunlight,
And the badge of barren, the pocket empty
Of all but knuckle and none. What did our grieving
Mean with so much given that was not for trade?
Our liberties we traded and too soon –
Preferring more the notes’ possession than the tune.


But memory is music still. The streets
Are piccolo thin – and play as lightly
As the light pours down. We are beggars still
And beat, still lean except for all we learned
In losing. Your hand in mine, what more treasure
Should be kept? What was given in our broken days
Was gold once minted either to amass or to amaze.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 20 –

Be then the mirror of your own making.
Reflecting equally cessation and the start.
Our actions etch into the native grain
All that we face in nature and what the crowds
Contain. Receive and render, sweep and stain
What both the sculpted and the sculptor frame,
Are object and objective both, conceived as same.


What accidents may come, do they not wait
In the direction of our choosing?
The way’s elected – though what within it
Hides unhatched, until we happen there
Upon it. Let us break from the belief
That will and wonder wait at either end
Of what we endure at last or first intend.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

Nicholas Korn