Three Sonnets and a Pantoum

posted in: Aging, Poetry | 0

Well and lesser-known forms, with poems by Lee Warner Brooks, Elinor Horwitz, Norma Chapman and Bonnie Naradzay. 
6 minutes


Lee Warner Brooks said he’s been a cab driver, an editor, and an attorney. He also writes sonnets. A sonnet, as you probably know, is a 14 line poem. This one’s a Shakespearean sonnet, three four-line stanzas with a rhyming pattern of ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, and a rhyming couplet at the end that responds in some way to the rest of the poem. Lee Warner Brooks’s Shakespearean sonnet is titled “Married People.”

Even married people think of love
Sometimes, while waiting in a room of strangers
Watching someone pulling off a glove
Exposing naked fingers and the dangers

Of unguarded movements. Even married
People dream of what they never had
While working through another weary, harried
Afternoon; and sometimes they feel sad

While driving home from work; they wonder if
Decisions made so long ago were smart,
And when they pour a drink, they pour it stiff,
And speak the truth — and that’s when troubles start.

Some day, they’ll ask — What was I thinking of?
But who can blame them, if they thought of love?

“Married People,” Lee Warner Brooks’s sonnet from Passager’s 2007 Poetry Contest issue.

Elinor Horwitz grew up in New Haven, CT and lived most of her adult life in Washington DC. She was a freelance newspaper and magazine writer and also wrote books for children and young adults. Here’s her Shakespearean sonnet “Sonnet #1.”

I never thought I’d come to be
A little old lady who talks to her cats
Who talks to her cats seductively
Bestowing little tender pats.
Who talks to her cats in third person lingo:
“Mommy must go out for now,
But Mommy loves her Maisy and Ringo
Mommy’s sorry she can’t speak Meow.”
I never thought I’d love to see
Both cats asleep on my bed by nine
Both snuggled in ahead of me
Both on the side of the bed that’s mine.
A cat’s a comfort ‘round the house
But a sorry stand-in for a spouse.

Elinor Horwitz’s “Sonnet #1” from Passager’s newest book The Poets of Ingleside.

Norma Chapman’s sonnet got published in the 2008 Poetry Contest issue. Norma spent her childhood in Southern California and later lived in western Maryland. She said she began writing poetry when she was 60 “after an eventful but unremarkable life.” The rhyming pattern’s freer than the others, but it still counts. “She Notices Her Navel.”

and not for the first time.
It’s the center of me, she thinks,
as I am the center of my world,
as I am a fat brown spider in the center of my web.

She could arrange her life with alliteration.
It’s beautiful, she thinks,
and I am beautiful with my books
and my blunt cut bob with bangs.

She could dream on cue.
In the middle of a fall night,
in the middle of divorce,
she is queen of the universe.

You know she can come to no good end.
But what you know may not be true.

“She Notices Her Navel,” Norma Chapman. Passager published Norma’s book Perris, California in 2010.

Earlier, I read Ingleside poet Elinor Horwitz’s poem. The longtime teacher of the Ingleside Poets is Bonnie Naradzay. Bonnie taught English as a Peace Corps volunteer in India in the early 70s. She’s been writing and teaching poetry for decades. Here’s her pantoum titled “Lines.” A pantoum, by the way, is a poem of any length; it’s composed of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza. More or less . . .

This has been done before, standing in line for a long time.
Think of Soviet women who queued for hours for bread.
And I have learned about the lines of the Great Depression:
men lined up for mind-numbing jobs at assembly lines.

Think of Soviet women who stood for hours for bread
or Akhmatova outside the prison waiting for news of her son.
Here, men lined up for mind-numbing jobs at assembly lines.
These days some have it easy — food deliveries, yoga online.

Akhmatova outside the prison waited with women for news
and the chance to send a loaf of bread, or a note, inside.
These days some have it easy — food deliveries, yoga online.
Still, Camus said the plague is within us, here to stay.

I have learned about the lines of the Great Depression
where hope envisions a loaf of bread, a note from inside.
Camus wrote that the plague is within us, here to stay,
as it has always done: waiting in line for a long time.

“Lines,” Bonnie Naradzay from the anthology The Poets of Ingleside.

To buy Norma Chapman’s book Perris, California or The Poets of Ingleside or to subscribe to or learn more about Passager and its commitment to writers over 50, go to

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For Kendra, Mary, Christine, Rosanne, and the rest of the Passager staff, I’m Jon Shorr.