Wild Sonnets 21-30

– 21 –

Which consecrated counsel should we hear?
The platitudes of ash and ancient men,
That jarring once the hearing of their fellows,
Now, in cold and retrospective tomes,
Lie in marble margin’d with their quotable bones?
Or the constant and cacophonous choir
Of public mention and time’s living fire?


The coming quiet lays them both to rest,
Leaving us to the lost oracle
Of our own thinking. This seventh sense,
Delphic and individual, a faint
And upward smoke confined in globe of stone,
Brings sight that only to the nighted will appear
And makes our blindness blaze, and dark seem clear.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 22 –

Glory in a glimpse, both given and gone,
Made of the airy instance it is built upon –
Such things transfix our thoughts, even as they fill
Our thinking – of all that we were once aware,
Unwidens to one, and narrowing to nothing nearly,
Is done. If to be foolish is to love what fades,
Then love is light, and wisdom shelters in the shades.


The best of things – to let them go is best,
When they have reason to recede.
And though eternity is both our nature
And our need, our every nerve instructs
Our senses to what leaving is. So lessoned
By the world, which to the world will say,
Here time once waited, once time falls away.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 23 –

That even so fine a science was doubly born,
New to Newton and to Leibniz both,
And twinned in parentage on divided shores –
Things, that seeming singled, may by a multiple
Of mind still be conceived – that even nations,
First from many wombs were born to be,
A notion narrowed to community.


There must then be a calculus to love –
A wild addition that can fill a page
That before was empty – now by assemblage
Of simple and symbolic strokes, equates
A marriage between our figures and our fates.
Like terms, that in our liking, are then termed to be
A problem that prefers itself as mystery.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 24 –

Place on the board all the pieces of your pride –
First moving where you think you merit most.
Diagonals and duplicity, the rook and ruse,
And all those counters that we count on to confuse –
Supposing the opponent is Catastrophe
Or worse – with all that cunning can, you weigh
What hazard wins by choosing where to move or stay.


Mated as we are by chance, and nighted not
By what we most expect – defeat within
The winning need falls most. Be then careless
Of consequence. There is a majesty
That stands alone – with all of our attendants
Taken, a purity that waits upon the end,
An experience above what the triumphant will pretend.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 25 –

Now is not the reaping – for what we plant
Is patience. Hunger too is the soul’s consuming,
The soil from which our wanting grows.
The waving field of rice, or the unfolding rose,
Whatever sustenance that sight requires
Or the intestine knows – though seeming spare
What we ingest is less than we prepare.


Our days of digging still divide the hoe and shovel
From the fork and spoon. The acre of the table
And the plate itself, a thing of earthen burnt
To hardened readiness, glazed and waiting
For the labor and the last, a circle that contains
The feeding and the fast – as all that’s grown
Is grounded both as sower and the sown.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 26 –

As none may, crossing on the sea’s wide water,
Take from the salted tide and drink,
Or from rounded side to side may swim
Between the wall’s circumference of a well –
The deep within us narrows in its thirst,
While in argosy and agony, each fleeting sense
Sails the expanse we call experience.


Our travels then are twinned – interior
And tunneling to conception’s core,
While the five and navigating nerves
Through the pageant of the palpable – knowing not
The music or the dance, still move and sing.
A collection treasured, that furrowed and ferried,
Lies deep in all that blossoms, buried.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 27 –

May it be that only the madness has meaning –
What we in our wildness know. Stable
And shackle – our freedom knows not where,
But why to go. My comfortable chain, I wear thee
Like a gown by heaven given – holy, mine
And wholly mine, though revelation cries:
The light we borrow is lunar both and wise.


Through crescent and crash – my rise and ruin
On ambition hinges. Since contention sires
All that sounds – the strike of stick on skin
Is the fierce phonetic of the drum,
And tooth to lip – the fricative and hiss.
The beating the world against us brings –
The rite of rhythm and the hammered flight of wings.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 28 –

No morning knows what night will bring,
Or what the ringing and the rung of hours
Will venture or prevent. The light learns only,
First to last, how to burn, even as the stars
In their ascendance are summoned to the rim.
Riotous to reticent, from beauteous to blind –
They are twice risen who to their falling are resigned.


Yet the better resignation is to glory
Than to grief. Though relieved of what illumes
Our brace of days, what countless gifts
We commonly discount. What breath of mine,
In airy exchange with the world at wide,
Went through this breadth of years unblessed,
Lost to rightful recognition, until at rest.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 29 –

When the road of my reversal leads me back
To where I once before have been – to stations
I before have crossed, a sacrifice of steps
From what was new and near to what I knew,
And well – it is there that the familiar fails us,
The shackles of assurance, and the stock of true,
Wheels us again to harbor on a backward blue.


Here in the journey turned and odyssey
Undone, where the regressing passage
Of ‘here again’ again begins – here
In the ebb and tug of the retracing tide,
We unanchor from the weighted deep,
Unfold the compass, canvas and the chart,
And ending what was ending, again depart.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

– 30 –

Honor both the lordship over all
You own and all that still you long for –
Being that having is still exterior
To your being’s best, and the ache that shapes
Our actions is broader and border both,
The silhouette and sigh that outward shine,
A darkening of what we inwardly divine.


Wonder both at your own worship of all
That is and is to come. Our hands are swift
At finding fading things, and in the clutch
Of what may well or may not be – we learn
The surety and worth of what we’ve yet
To know? How holy and how highly blessed,
Are we between such prayers and puzzles pressed.


– Nicholas Korn

audio reading: coming soon

Nicholas Korn