Sonnet for Redemption

A few prefaces to this one:

1: I love the English/Shakespearean sonnet. Writing in this form always feels very natural to me, and I love the balance of having constraints to work with that are still malleable (and familiar) enough to leave room for creativity.

2: I’m a tabletop gamer in addition to a poet, but why view those hobbies as mutually exclusive? The subject of this sonnet (and many secondary references therein) is inspired by a fairly new Role Play Game I recently found called Phoenix: Dawn Command. Many of the poem’s images refer to specific concepts and ideas from the world presented in the game, which brings us to…

3: While I didn’t strictly adhere to NaPo’s suggestion “to¬†write a poem that is a portrait of someone important” to me, I did opt for a portrait of a character that my wife created for Phoenix. The poem incorporates narrative elements unique to the backstory that she created for her character, so it might not be particularly accessible or interesting to the average or uninvested reader — but then, sonnets are often very personal odes or addresses, and this portrait is certainly that for the character (named Redemption), if not for my wife herself (she’s already expressed her approval!)

So whether it means anything to you or not, here’s the draft for my #11:

sonnet for redemption

And the clean cut:


A brother’s blade runs through the twisted knot
of sorrow and betrayal in her chest
that drove her to the bargain that she sought
in zealous dedication to her quest.

She lingered then, in failure and in scorn,
beyond the veil of Dusk she tried to tame
for years, until her soul would be reborn
and cleansed through trials of strength in holy flame.

The sun alights upon another age:
a faceless hero rises in the Dawn
to right the wrongs incited by her rage
and serve the Flame to which her soul was drawn.

Though Bitter is the dying daylight’s face,
Redemption will deliver it to Grace.


Uneasy Observation

I rarely dabble with any type of narrative verse (nor anything quite this lengthy), but after a recent visit to an art venue that put me rather ill at ease, I felt that a description was warranted. Though probably unnecessary, I’ve included scans of the notebook I had on hand while I was there as well as my “official” poetry journal, since I’m looking to track the creative process for this month’s works. Number 26:


collective1 collective2

The experience
quickly became a list
of confusing,
undesirable sensations.
I found myself uneasy,
out of my element
in an alien atmosphere
that smelled dusty
and unfinished.
It was only just
too cold:
if I didn’t move my toes,
the anxiety crept in
from the cool, uneven
concrete floors
that spanned the soles
of other awkward feet
shuffling through the room’s
hard mood.
Though I tried to read
the walls,
nervous preoccupation
only showed me disrepair:
loose cords grew like vines
from new paint on old trim
while sad strips of black duct tape
clung desperately to
old paint on older walls
smudged by dirty fingers.
Those same hands
might have dragged
the ugly rugs
over more electric weeds
sprouting from the hard drive
of anachronism
at the cracked room’s
buzzing center.
My heavy head
and tired eyes cringed
at dated typeface
on faded signs,
loose particle board
and sealing foam peering
back at me,
“You are no Adonis either.”
I felt unwelcome,
though somehow obligated
to be there
in this out-of-joint
every bit
as aloof as I was.

Yet under it all
or perhaps through it
or in spite of it
there was the scent
of potential:
this space
had tried so hard,
I finally saw.
It wanted to be
a place of class
and warmth
and culture
and sharing,
but it tumbled
and fell short
when it saw how
uncomfortable we were,
when it heard
our criticism,
when artists and audience
left the building
and judges sat down
in their cold, rigid seats
to watch,
with suspicious eyes,
their spectacles.