Halvard Johnson

Saga Sonnet

These events took place in the United States of America
a long time ago, in that dark age between the reigns
of Lingnar the Flat-nosed and Umnox the Lame-brained.

In those times, weeds were allowed to run wild, liars
and braggarts held forth on all sides, and everyone, without
exception, was tall and handsome and blond. To come

to blows one had only to smile in the direction of another.
Custom decreed that house-guests be slaughtered as they
slept, so the strongest among us were most insomniac.

Our women bore children to men not their husbands, to those
even blonder men who came to visit, but not to stay for long.

Spam Sonnet

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Boolean Nights Sonnet

                "boolean night and hurtled paths"
                                              —Alan Sondheim

Do not crawl gentle into that. Good night and good
night. I prithee, search out the dead cell phones, bid
them rise. How useless of us, how endlessly we barrel
down the nation's highways, as though dawn never

cracketh. Rumble strips rouse us from our naps, our
circadian tricycles. Our meditations safely lodged up
on the shelves above the sink, we close the shutters,
let senescent rabbis shuffle the deck and deal. Late-

night mail arrives, nth delivery of the day, but, down
the river there, mail comes early or never. Gathering
tribes have got all day to sort things out, to compile
their dance suites, their lists of obligations to future,

unformed generations. We're out of luck, my friends,
but something yet might happen—tomorrow or tonight.

Etiolation Sonnet

My wife turns herself off after a few seconds. I've wondered
about traffic noise, but so far it's been okay. Dark elongates

move beneath the leaves beneath the eaves, then grow to full
size and turn green. Reaching the light, dim caliphates pulse
much more rapidly than normal. A lot less fun, but easier

is not to invite friends over at all. Internodes of common parlance
self-reproduce until food reserves are all used up. Light too dim
to be useful makes us wonder where all the birds have come from.

Their ruckus in the coming or onrushing darkness rattles our cages.
Yet on those long, warm summer nights, one yearns for a backyard
rainbow, one that your drunken guests cannot turn off by accident.

Our internal clocks set to explode at the slightest vibration, we lie
awake in the quiet dark, our tendrils fading ever closer to the light.

Sonnet: La Malcontenta

Nowadays, she is away a lot, away from home, from her kids,
who've learned to deal, to take care of themselves and each
other. She loads her little truck with her wares and drives off,
waving into the rear-view mirror. She tweets them from little

towns in the countryside where she (on good days) sells her
wares, comes back empty. Her oldest son in Afghanistan, she
tweets him too. He always says, "im ok mom," but she wonders,
and wonders how he could be. She voted for Obama too,

but now she wonders. On the road a lot and sometimes over
night if the truck isn't empty, she'd like to be home with her kids
but business is business, and if she doesn't sell, the kids don't
eat. There are men . . . well, yes, there have to be men, right?

The kid in Afghanistan, he tweets her with "hey mom im dyng."
It's the last one. She tweets him a hug and a kiss.

Sonnet bureaucratique

While the office is closed, take a hike from Normandy
to Montmartre, read your partitions to any who will stop

to listen. Catalog your umbrellas, including those you
have never used. When you run out of room for pianos,

stack them up, one upon another, the topmost upside
down. Move your precursors from left to right on your

screen, backspace ad libitum. Choose times of low
income to reduce your spending.

Yo, Dada. Yo, Mama.

Halvard Johnson has lived and worked in Chicago, Illinois; El Paso, Texas; Cayey, Puerto Rico; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Maryland, and New York City. For many years he taught overseas in the European and Far East divisions of the University of Maryland, mostly in Germany and Japan. He currently lives most of the year in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico.

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Blogger Andrew Burke said...

al - you are always alive with imagination and active language, playing (seriously) with the tradition and the present. I enjoy your sonnets without fail, and these hit the spot and romp under a carnival tent! Great.

11:58 PM  

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