Sky -n- Earth

Gathering Electric

lightning in gestation
clouds, earth, friction
fornications of sky & earth
how the low belly of heaven loves

this prairie — rubbing against
it to create towering clouds
and maelstroms of hot-meets-cold
thunderclap drip of rain and
wind scrubs her for another go . . .


Petrarchan Sonnet on a Bouguereau

"Elegy" by William Adolphe Bouguereau

For Kith & Kin

Patriot lost, mourned by no country, but

a wife and infant attend in tearful

elegy—all grief is personal—Full

as these heroes’ lives, too young they die, glut

Death with his impatient hosts. Who knows what

change each war can bring? Our headlines are full

of patriotic verve . . . Who’s this to fool?

A soldier dies for kith & kin. One may strut

to war with flag and chin held high, duty

filling heart and mind, but when the killing

begins, Life’s instinct shrugs nobility

aside so the panicked heart can beat. Thrilling

to war is the place of mad men—zealotry

a tyrant more evil than any despot king.

David M Pitchford

Picture: “Elegy” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1899
Comments invited.

Lamia’s Tale

Herbert James Draper, \"Lamia\", 1909

Courtesan’s Confession

You brought me here a slave, though I was

a noblewoman in my own land, a fairer land

crowned with mountains and without that stench,

constant reek of fish and brine. Whore for a king—

but far too wise, thus sold as courtesan, no common

whore, but whore nonetheless. And you wonder

at my audacity to despise both king and man? Fools

have no use for a woman of intelligence, a learnéd

whore who can carry conversation as well as water

and the faint heart of a political pedant.

Your physician with his golden needle

pierced the soft mechanism of my fertile

womb, and made me a eunuch whore . . . What then

did you think I would do? Robbed of my self,

robbed of immortality, I cried out

to my goddess, supplicating for life

and vengeance. She heard, oh yes, and cried loud

and long within me even as my own

tears stained the satin settee you thought might

please me. I was never pleased! Your wine-stench

and olive-slick skin repulsed me always!

I learned of your wife, mother of your child,

and listened at Symposium for fear

in your strange tales; naming myself Lamia,

I took the serpent’s way into your wife’s

rooms with poisons of my own. She suffered

little for your transgression—I took mercy

on other victims—but your infant son

shed his flesh for the dish I serve you this

night to celebrate your final birthday!

David M Pitchford
9 June 2008

Picture: “The Lamia” by Herbert James Draper, 1909

This is sort of a mishmash of Greek mythology. It is based on the tales of Lamia, and mixed with similar tales of vengeance and such. Apparently, there were multiple archetypes of prostitutes in ancient Greece—one for pleasure only (pornae) both freelance and pimped, and one for pleasure and companionship (hetaera) more comparable to courtesans and often educated. Hope you enjoy the poem.

Red Love

Modigliani\'s \"Red Nude\"

Today I Love You Best in Red

Once lover to the moon alone, younger,

I wrote poems to golden shades and longed

to be Endymion. We danced in youth

and beauty as though life, time, and hunger

held no sway. We drank and sang, and we wronged

neither each other nor others, and Truth

was our gospel, covenant in verse—rhyme

ticked, clicked, licked our wounds over life and time.


Now youth grudgingly leaves us to wiser

age—as though wisdom were consolation—

and what once was firm, now time’s gravity

pulls from flight to ground. And now we miser

moments between, horde our burning passion

as though it might burn out. Naïveté

was such comfort . . . Jaded love seems sallow

contrasted to young love—though it’s shallow.


Today is all. Today, I love you best in red

and blue, in front or back, on the couch or in bed!

Forever have we loved. This moment, all is said

and done; in this moment, you seduce and we wed.

David M Pitchford
30 May 2008

Picture: “Red Nude” by Amedeo Modigliani, 1917

This is kind of an experiment. I’m working with Ottava Rima with a quatrain chaser. Does it work? What works best? Does the rhythm break down anywhere? Where?

Ardently seeking feedback. Thanks 😉

T. R. Jones’ Lost Survivor


Independent Publishers Group

This is one of the best war novels I’ve ever read. Jones uses memorable characters to depict a story not merely about war, but also about the psychological impact war has on the soldier and his loved ones when he returns from the field as a survivor. Powerful!

Johnny leaves home to go to Vietnam as a Corpsman. Under fire from the moment he lands, Johnny transforms from the polite young man he was back home in central Illinois to become JD, the survivor and veteran. But thirteen months later JD’s tour ends and it is time for him to return to the States and resume his life as a stateside soldier.

The intervening time has changed JD completely. And yet, almost nothing has changed back home. How is JD supposed to speak to anyone about his experience when all they have to frame it in is what they’ve seen on TV? Betrayed by the very strategies he used to survive in Nam, JD feels nothing but lost back in his own hometown.

What is there left for him to do? Take another tour in Nam? Go on to an obscure training that will ensure his never returning to Nam?

Johnny learns two things very well: whatever world you leave will change when you’re away; and what leads to survival in war is totally antithetical to survival in the ‘civilized world’.

Weary on a mind quest « Poetmeister …on the road to Parnassus

Weary on a mind quest « Poetmeister …on the road to Parnassus

Another of my surf-by sonnets.

God’s Bitter Angel Answers


You who rose from dust to life, breath of God

in skin-prison bottled, do you question

His supreme plan? Does your veneration

fall so short of glory, that you would nod

your head and pray mere words? Would He be God

could He not answer? Yet your hymn’s less sung

in worship than in dark desperation—

dissonant in choral dread of the Rod.


Is He not Love? Does Love punish only?

Take heart, little wren, grasp faith in your heart

and know that Love is you, that you are love—

His breath and heartbeat are yours; these lonely

hours are but reflection upon His Art

as it grows within each, to bless thereof!

Sonnet for my absent son

Song of My Son: Song of My Self

Paternal as I long to be—distance

Erodes memory. How long since I held,

Desperate, clinging infant you? Beheld

Alive your eyes, my eyes. Our insistence,

Not from love’s lack, but in the persistence

That hope demands for better . . . Could love weld

Hearts together? No. Neither could love meld

Alive our strange insanities—penance

Left us only one choice: your adoption,

For your mother and I were oil and flame—

But either no fault the other should claim

Lest karma strike fatal conflagration!

Utter love and contempt as fire we shared

Despite paradox wishes—We ran scared.

                  David M Pitchford
                  19 October 2007

I wrote this just now as part of a sequence that goes with my fourth novel. The sonnets obscure clues the characters are desperate to solve, as it is the only way to retrieve the paternal character from a magic mirror. One of the characters is based on a son I and his mother gave up for adoption some years ago. Sometimes poetry can help us work through tough spots, even if their encysted memories that catch in throats with cat claws and rend our hearts until tears flow from sources deeper than life . . .