The stars are not the stars tonight; they burn
so fleetingly—they drift, an earthly flame
inside each paper shell. With each slow turn
their dancing puts those distant stars to shame.
We wrapped our hearts in promises and pride,
in pledges inked across thin sheets of doubt:
Translucent, insubstantial, finely dyed,
our lanterns glowed until the one burned out.
I always meant to be the one to leave,
the one to go—a lantern in the sky—
to fly away. I always meant to grieve
my own mistakes in private, by and by.
The stars are still; there’s nothing left to say.
I loose my grip and let you drift away.
I do not fear the dark. I only fear
the spaces in between the points of light.
There is no course, no route from there to here
We have not tried: we travel them each night.
You trace your constellations on my back,
give me their names, as if it helps to know
where you will be, as if I can’t keep track:
You score them on my skin each time you go.
So I plant kisses, let them bloom all through
the hills I love to wander dusk to dawn.
I scatter prayers like seeds, like beads of dew
still knowing when I wake, you will be gone.
My garden cannot anchor you to earth;
My arms are but a temporary berth.
There are no myrtle trees to walk among,
No respite when the heat is at its worst.
I place your name beneath my barren tongue –
a stone to slake this cruel, relentless thirst.
With eyes half-closed, I taste it, let it flood
my mouth with salt and honey; let it fill
me with desire. Like air, like wine, like blood,
I draw it out. I savor its sweet thrill.
I wonder – if I swallowed, if this stone
became a part of me, would I be whole?
Could I survive on just your name alone,
or would I roam this life with half a soul?
The more I reach, the further you recede.
A bitter draught: this stone, your name, my mead.
This sonnet brought to you by yeah write’s February poetry slam!
Raise up for me a pyre of broken vows,
Of words you did not mean, of misplaced trust,
And lay me down among the thorny boughs–
Let all my inhibitions turn to dust.
Speak now of love and beauty. Treat my ear
To blandishments and empty words of praise.
My heart knows your remorse is insincere
And yet my faithless body still betrays.
If you seek absolution in this fire
I cannot give it–yours is not the blame.
Your every touch rekindles my desire.
I smolder every time you cry my name.
Just love me through the night until the morn
That from the ashes we may be reborn.
I let no lover loose my hair. No lips,
No kisses trace the contours of my cheek.
I let no whispers brush my fingertips;
In love I do not let my lovers speak.
But hands I do allow, and silk and steel,
If this is where my lover takes delight.
I make no pledge, no promise to reveal
The patterns of my passion in the night.
Just once I yielded: breath upon my skin,
Your mouth upon my mouth, a moment’s lapse.
I came too far. I let you breathe me in
And catch me in that deadliest of traps.
Unbind me now, let down my tangled hair.
Love, speak my name, release me to the air.
Rowan promised me a sestina if I would attempt a sonnet. This is what happened.