Rick Bursky



Two Sonnets for the Left Ventricle of the Heart

                                                                                                                                 for Anne


She’s in my arms, crying, about what is none of your business,

Nor the business of this poem. This poem is about the way I embrace

Anguish, hold it like a bag of light bulbs -- this is about tenderness.

No, that’s not entirely true. Think of broken glass, I’ll make a case

For her in my arms later. How dark is a life at night? Curtains drawn,

Blankets pulled to just below the nose, eyes closed, other

Than socks and shoes there’s nothing to count on.

So why bother getting out of bed in the morning? Her lover

Knows a bag of groceries doesn’t replace the rhythm or sound

Of a tongue. Her crying is an exclamation point, a pat on the back,

Something gone right that can’t be undone; a wave that found

A reason to fall on the shore and is no longer frozen in its tracks.

This can’t go on for much longer. Gravity pulls on the distressed

With as much spite as it pulls at a man falling or a woman’s breasts.



There are two sides to each closed door, each half-moon, each life.

I've been a borrower, took shoes, shirt, money for gas and a hat.

The list can go on; there’s lots missing. Still, I’m not borrowing a wife

Just for the sake of a rhyme or dramatic tension. Besides, that

Would cheapen the poem, not to mention what it would do to me.

That’s where she comes in, weather in progress looking for a place

To put the customary beautiful day-after; even the stormiest sea

Tires of ragging at the sky. So, which of us is the sea? the sky? Whose face

Is lined with more terrifying clouds? She doesn’t care anymore.

There’s salt in the salt shaker, pepper in the pepper shaker, milk and eggs

In the refrigerator. A kitchen, someone once wrote, is a metaphor

For something or another, I don’t remember what. I know, it begs

For an explanation but I don’t have one. It just feels good here,

The way a full moon feels in a night sky, anything else is just fear.


“The Soup of Something Missing,” Bear Star Press  Cohasset, CA, 2004

Epoch, Cornell University, Vol. 50, No. 1, 2001