Three Sonnets

Three sonnets, in sequence, on topics that ought to please us.

1. Free Love

If what was freely given I could buy,
What deeds were undemanded I would do;
What unrequested songs I’d sing for you
With effort, though I had no need to try.
To cross a line undrawn upon the sand,
To answer all the questions never aired,
To speak a love that need not be declared
To humble ears that ask for nothing, and
Feel undeserving of the smallest word
Is all the glory I have ever dreamt.
To yield only to those who have to tempt,
To love where love’s demanded, is absurd,
When what you freely give, on all the earth,
Has neither price nor prize of equal worth.

2. Let’s Drink

Let’s drink!
me from my glass
and you from yours,

raise separate toasts
to these far, lonely times,

this windowless day,
this age of closed doors,
this blank page crumpled.

I who fear the crimes
unspoken must be mine to bear
(of course)

have no words left:
this silence is my shame.

My shame.

Even our shame we do not share
nor taste together.

Tell me, what is worse:
The sweetest futures
choked on buried blame,

Or one sad end
When come to it we must,
a wine
as long oaked as the unshed tear
you’ll let go at the last
when I am dust?

To chase the draught of these decaying years,
“What nobler substitute,” they say, “than wine?”
Let’s drink:

you from your glass

and me from mine


3. Wine

No man, no woman, ever asked me why
I love a glass of wine so very much
That never wished me ill, nor told a lie—
Nor, I’ll admit, returns my love as such—
Nor, in what scanty draughts I could afford,
Brought harm to me as oft it brought me good,
Nor spoke the cruellest nor the kindest word
In all the cold and silent nights I stood
With empty glass beneath a distant sky,
And dwelt on what I’d drunk, once it was gone.
No man, no woman, ever asked me why
I love good wine, when good wine have I none.
But should you, reader, deign to ask me this—
—When wine is gone, that love is all there is.


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