Ken Leighton 4:17 p.m., July 23
A call for sonnets
When in the spring fair April shows her face
Eulogy for Broadway (Downtown San Diego)
- The seedy, sad excitement you once wore
- So proudly, so enchanting to a child
- In time would spill like honey from your core
- Into a young man’s heart and drive him wild.
- He would become far richer, so beguiled
- With wicked glamour, glowing in your light
- While love and fear and dreams were reconciled
- On all your movie screens, throughout the night.
- Your sidewalks drenched in danger and delight
- With locker clubs and arcade jewelry
- Your final breath a lilting sigh despite
- The wounds of bureaucratic cruelty.
- Four decades on, it’s agony to face
- The flaccid statues standing in your place.
A Mermaid Sings of San Diego
- When in the spring fair April shows her face
- And winter storms, such as they are, have passed,
- I think upon the years now gone, time’s race
- The race we all must run, the slow, the fast.
- But though the days seem numbered as they fall
- Like jacaranda blossoms, one by one,
- My mermaid heart still echoes with the call
- Of San Diego, honeyed by the sun.
- This City by the Sea can slow the clock,
- Sweet breezes in the palms by sandy shores,
- As sailboats heading out from every dock
- Send love notes back in brilliant semaphores.
- Though Prufrock hesitated with his peach,
- I have no qualms. I head for Ocean Beach!
In the Sierra Nevadas
- On Glacier Point, my muse appears in tight
- blue jeans, a crimson parka, purple vest.
- She leans on granite cliffs that pierce the bright
- heavens, and smiles above her downy breast.
- Clear in the distance not a cloud, just scenes
- of sapphire, vistas huge in blocks of rock
- and massive slabs in mottled grays. Her jeans
- attract my lonely eye. And then in shock,
- I see beneath her clothes her naked pose.
- O muse seducing me unknowingly —
- or do you know? O sunlit skyline rose!
- O hummingbird! Your girlie-model knee
- angles an upward path along your thigh
- where fantasies of lingering glide by.
Sonnet: 24 Oct. 1974
- When first love’s tender blush does burn blood-red,
- And Technicolor fantasies do reign,
- Never imagine this flame going dead;
- For perish the thought of such wretched pain!
- When high emotion is worn on one’s sleeve,
- And the rush of lust’s desire smells so sweet,
- Surel ’tis impossible to believe
- Any force could quell our Heavenly heat!
- Yet just as fireworks’ colorful display
- Must draw to its inevitable close,
- And glowing embers alas turn to grey,
- So shall love wither like a dying rose!
- Whereas love’s colors fade to black and white,
- Why, pray tell, must you haunt my dreams each night?
A Formal Measuring
- With graduation almost here, I drag
- my son into a shop that sells those wing-
- tip shoes that nest inside a soft cloth bag
- with drawstring tie. (He’s spellbound by the thing!)
- Too long I’ve acquiesced to random size.
- He trades his Nikes every other day
- for cooler kicks. He wears them once then “buys”
- another pair. (Slipshod fit seemed okay!)
- But as he’s poised to set out on his own,
- he needs to lose the sneakers — find a shoe
- with classic lines and solid last. Feet grown:
- I feel a formal measuring is due.
- I check the length and width, the leather’s play.
- Job done. There’s nothing left to do: I pay.