Two Sonnets

by David Solway (April 2020)

Bird, Oskar Kokoschka, 1972



All God’s Children


I was startled by a sound of thunder.

The bird hit the window, disintegrated

in a heap of gut and feather. Under

the gutters, the deck was blood. Her mate did

a kind of jittery dance, bent his head,

went still, then raised what remained in his beak

and took wing to where birds bury their dead.

That’s it—another elegiac freak,

just a miniscule part of the quota

of universal suffering and loss,

an infinitesimal iota,

a sacrificial wood chip from the Cross.

The bird is dead and Nature has spoken.

Tell me, how can God’s heart not be broken?




Friends, Oskar Kokoschka, 1917



Dressed to Kill


I see them walk in every walk of life.

I see them earn their daily living wage.

I see them in the midst of tempered strife

or bloody outcomes where the foes engage.

I see them at the circus masquerade

and at the theaters where all applaud

to watch deception expertly displayed.

I see them grow indifferent to God.

I see them shopping at the local mall.

I see them glittering and confident.

I see them where they rise and where they fall.

I see them feral and irreverent

and know there is no “rather,” no “instead.”

The ghosts are dressed to kill. I see the dead.




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Notes from a Derelict Culture, Black House Publishing, 2019, London. A CD of his original songs, Partial to Cain, appeared in 2019.

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