Matt Hart & Ethan Paquin

from Sonnet BOOM!

Sonnet, Essentialized



Things Receding

Why can I not from mem’ry lose – the ruddy orange
of a great Victorian’s eaves – brackets – where lark
with lark sings?; I am sure a great man, ‘Charles’
or ‘Julius,’ had once sat in that home but one mile

from the nearest neighbour, but one paltry mile
from the next beautiful rising construct – orange
sun. But one mile from the sun and sitting, Charles
or Julius, on the giant green hogsback on a lark

or else a foot stool, would sit and whistle lark-
like all evening. To whom? No girl would smile
while serving his tea, or care for the tune. “[Charles,]
[Julius,] you can’t hit the note. Don’t try. Orange

pekoe or . . . green? Your choice, sir?” An orange lark,
Charles, miles beyond your head it is. She fades out.



Dogs from Bottom to Top

My fellow Americans, I desire to set things straight:
               George W. Bush, who, having abandoned the people
               of the United States (not to mention all logic),
               is now being blown about
In the perpetual and fetid wind of his teacher Dick Cheney
               (not to mention other Washington D.C. blowhards),
               a Dick (mind you) who is neither the first nor last
               of this sonnet’s dicks (by the by), and who himself
               has robbed (and continues to rob) us all a 1000 times
               over (see Halliburton), and committed us (so it seems)
               to the next Vietnam, only this time the war is in
               (not with) Iraq.
I wonder if these two can really be as stupid as Bill Clinton
               was sexy (what I wouldn’t give for a return to the days
               of Monica Lewinsky, who, bless her little soul,
               never killed anyone, but was for all intents
               and purposes a weapon of mass destruction—
Just ask Al Gore, who was pretty much destroyed by the whole
               sordid affair—well, that and his own smarminess,
               his invention of the internet, his dippy wife’s
               PMRC blathering. I mean, really could you
               imagine him in the streets of Paris or Beijing?
               I don’t think so…BUT

returning to my point, O how we miss you dear Monica.)
               Of course, our current problems with Baghdad started
               with the first King—I mean, President—George Bush,
               who failed to take care of business during
               the first Gulf War—
which honestly sounds a lot worse than it was. For a war
               it was pretty clean shaven: quick and sterile, over in flash.
               And besides, the first President Bush had Dan Quail
               on his side, a man who was almost as qualified
               for public office as Ms. Lewinski, except she was cheekier
               and gave better blow jobs (at least if the Starr Report
               had anything to say about it). I liked Dan Quail.
               He’s a Hoosier like myself. He had helmet hair, too.
               And dance moves, I bet. And a big dumb smile,
               which brings me to The Gipper,
Ronald Reagan! Trickle down economics, Oliver North, the Iran
               Contra scandal, Buster Poindexter—Hot! Hot! Hot!
               (Best career move David Johansen made since quitting
               the New York Dolls and retiring to Helsinki or London—
               wherever the fuck he went)... Oh, that’s right, I meant
               John Poindexter, Buster came later. Anyway, what
               can one say about Ronny other than “Poopy Pants”
               and “monkey”? But seriously, and speaking of
Holy shit! has George Bush (in one form or another) really been
               with us and near the top for more than twenty years?
               And before that, head of the CIA? Yikes.
               We definitely need to talk, good sir. I have a bone to pick
               with your political longevity, and the Kennedy’s besides—
               if not you, who can I bitch to about this, pronto?

And don’t you send me to that career diplomat and people’s poet Jimmy
               Carter. He’s probably not available anyway,
               as there are pressing matters to attend to in Port au Prince
               and Tripoli. With him it’s always been about talking
               talking talking when all anyone really wants to do
               in this world is make money and fight. Jesus,
               everyone knows that.
Walter Mondale? Never heard of him…(Clock ticks)…No,
               I still haven’t heard of him… Can you tell
               how bored I am with politics. Certainly
               it effects us all, but it’s nothing a good
               antacid can’t deal with. And what about
Gerald Ford? Now there’s a rags to riches to rags story. I think
               Steve Martin’s supposed to play him in the TV
               movie version of his Presidency. Poor schmuck.
               The thing I’m starting to notice is that I keep
               playing the same music, which may be the result
               of          a) my limited poetic vocabulary,
                            b) Ethan’s wiggy parameters, or
                            c) the wheel of politics which merely
                                       goes round and round
                                       when probably it should be
                                       stopped altogether. Question:
How to make Nelson Rockefeller a finale in fourteen words
               or less? Easy: less

Is more time to talk about Richard Nixon, who I refuse to call
               Tricky Dick, as early on he proved himself
               a Checkers master, not to mention his dedication
               to intense and copious documentation of everything
               (even his dark side, trips to the pisser, and a lot
               of wrangling over Vietnam. Poor sap
               when his water broke he was caught with his
               pants down. Sort of. And the American people
               who are generally about as bright as a slice of Swiss
               Cheese, or a pair of two left shoes made by 4 year olds
               in New Delhi – no offense dear good people – saw
               the whole package—Yikes and double yikes!—
               with mild mannered
Gerald Ford (once again) waiting politely in the wings. Later
               he’d be photographed with his head in his hands –
               see “line” 11 above – Wouldn’t you? Obviously,
               one could, and can, go on for a long long time with this,
               but let us not mince words: politics is always boring,
               anything political is boring, in fact only politics
               and politicians (and governments) are boring.
               This is why we have to fight so often to the death
               and why I must demand a meeting with W.
               He needs to hear this sonnet. I know
               what’s good for him—and all of us.
               Let me tell you about it.
               I dare you. I double
               dog dare you.



Sonnet Re: Lax

I sleep
I plant
of trees
and fruit

pluck and
night comes
though I don't
(have you?)

a knife a cut
full blown
with frost
the firm mint leaves

they sting
O green graves

with books
with dirt
in fog
and screw

on and on
care for what
in the gut

in the sink
quack up
with juice
charm me

like wasps
and songs

of eggs
of seed
blood eye
ing bird[?]

the whole
full moon
you have
a goat[?]

with its heart out
this year shall be
with spray
with sting

they wed
of sand




of mote
and chute and
dead dish float
this part
I wing my best
with what? with whom?

(yes and no)
am I for real?
I am bones
and thus bent and
with the mouth
I ask you

for a crutch
my wild bride

this mode
con you dear
or trees of oak
one ruleun-
do my best
for fits?

you see
I dart this way
and spit a rose
thus, mud
I break thee into
what ifs and dope

nose clouds and
the sea shines

and shoot
or faint lines of
or bursts of rain
der[sic] [red] god
coat my throat
am I deaf?

I love, but
I am quartz
that is, in love
in the mouth
trash bird songs
trees      please?

is it right or write?
what is it?



Aguirre Sonnet


and whoever has struggled against mountains, or
‘neath the trees as they bleed—or o’er the men sleeping
uncovered in rain—whoever has been pierced
by the holy spirit or eaten alive by ravenous stars—

he is like the me who struggles against teeth
and the shadows of tradition. One sings lalalalalalala,
while another rebels forever. The river remains as ever
amazed that my mind will neither disentangle itself

from the sonnet, nor from the drunks in swarms
like angry bees. Like spider monkeys screaming.
or counting to infinity without even a heart. I am
feeling like a man wishing to be a revolution,

but ending in ever more imitation of evermore, of hubris
in the face of the infinite raining, of wrath upon the finite
                                                                   delirious nobody


Sad to discover sores on a daisy. And in a story, another
dead dog or a horse left to ruin. Blindfolded I will be
alright. Like a thrown paper airplane crashing into
an easy chair, a television, a breath of freedom ringing

I will be alright. I am neither nature, nor meat floating by.
I am the voice from the trunk of Plymouth. I am the sad-
ness appraising the experiment, and watching it fail.
Still, heads I win tails you lose. It sounds like a good

deal, though sometimes when Melanie falls asleep
beside me, it’s as if by an arrow pierced she bounds
into my arms, and I spend the night wandering the deck
of the lifeboat, paranoid and reckless, shouting into fruit.

When Aguirre proclaims himself a rebel unto god, he is
a creature of the damned avant-garde, a chapter in heaven’s


What pleases me about the sonnet is how it can be re-
shaped in one’s own lifetime—which is to say
my mouth is not your mouth and neither is it god’s.
Our connections and dis-es are deeper. There is

an eternal some-something at the root of the river.
The center of the middle. The flood in the flute.
And speaking of drinking, I’ve been trying
to cut back a bit, so as not to lose myself

in the idiot hoopla American. Is the sonnet more
amazing than eternity? democracy? Absolutely.
And We the people are tired of being told that
there are approximately two or three really sufficient ways

to proceed. I’d say we better cut loose the horses.
Burn the house of the muses. Start mismanaging
                                                                right now


Matt Hart is the editor of Forklift Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking, & Light Industrial Safety. His work has appeared in many print and online journals, including The Canary, Lungfull!, Ploughshares, and Octopus. His chapbook is Revelated (Hollyridge Press, 2005), and his book-book is Who's Who Vivid, (Slope Editions, 2006). In addition, a new chapbook, SONNET, is forthcoming from H_NGM_N B_ _KS. He teaches at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and remains as surprised as anyone.

Ethan Paquin is the author of The Violence (Ahsahta Press, 2005), Accumulus (Salt, 2003), and The Makeshift (UK: Stride, 2001). His next book, My Thieves, is forthcoming (Salt, 2007). He edits Slope and Slope Editions and teaches in Buffalo, NY.