Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sonnet Sunday

I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone by writing a sonnet for Sonnet Sunday that would also work on our Christmas cards. However, despite the seasonal references, the poem didn't turn out card-friendly. Here it is anyway.

Bethlehem (early draft)

The soldiers staggered from the Empire’s fringes
with reindeers, sleighs, and lager crates, the sour
perfume of the town’s christingle oranges
drawing them forward, closer by the hour.

Between killings, they raved through crazy days.
Drunk on cheap booze and the adrenaline
of violence, they partied nights, and those delays
cost vital hours. But when they reached the inn,

they sensed their power. People followed on,
guided by starlight, each of them afraid
of emptiness, of flight, of being alone,
of God being gone, or lost, or left for dead.

Most claimed the shape of God remained, impressed
on hay. The soldiers shook in heavenly rest.

4 comments:

Sorlil said...

interesting, but the seasonal references of reindeers and sleighs seem to me to be a little out of place with the rest of the poem.

Rob Mackenzie said...

sorlil
Thanks for the feedback. The point you make is spot on.

I wanted the poem not to be simply about the original event, and introduced the seasonal references to give the feeling that these things could be happening at any and all times. Maybe slipping in a few more throughout the poem might give better balance e.g. the lame S2 L1 seems a prime candidate for change - maybe "Between killings, they chewed through turkey days" - well that's bad, but the idea might not be.

You made your comment at nearly 3am too! I still wonder at how my wife and I managed to keep going with the sleep deprivation having a baby gives. All the best.

C. E. Chaffin said...

Rob, it's so hard to avoid cliche' on this subject: "guided by starlight."

The journey of the soldiers turns kitsch, I think, when the Christian vocabulary seeps in. The ending, God's impression in the hay, is stunning, and deserves a better sonnet as an introduction. My two cents.

Rob Mackenzie said...

Thanks for the reaction, CE. I'm going to let this one lie for a while before deciding whether it's worth doing any more work on.