How to Engineer a Sonnet
Scratch a rough sketch.
Measure how A will fit
into B, how the poem rotates
and clicks into slots.
Pile metaphors on the bench.
Screw the lines.
Stop for lunch.
Reconsider. Change the plans.
Drill holes through the core.
Clamp stanzas into place.
Sand. Brush off dust.
Forgo high gloss for the luster
of oil, finished now
with its subtle sheen.
On the road ahead of my car,
a box turtle raises its head, stares
the way it intends to go, and
I hit my brakes, pray no one
will come along before I can lift
him, tucked tightly now inside
his shell, move him into the grass.
Behind me, in the car, the story
on the speakers spills on—but
we are saved, this turtle, this morning,
my heart, and this poem that lifts
its head and hobbles its path.
Because you rise at four AM
to let out the dog who has to pee.
Because you scatter drawings of objects
you plan to invent, sketched on backs
of torn envelopes. Because, like your mother,
you crave chocolate like cocaine.
Because, though I am the teacher,
you assign random grades: a B for that movie,
C+ for this soup. Because when
you assess me, you grade
on a curve.