Sonnets B4 the Blaze


Buddy of mine wants to start a dot-com;
he lost both his legs to a claymore in 'Nam.
Feds turned down his b-plan as being too radical,
so he's selling his medals to raise up some capital.

Says he still swears by the American Way;
but the bid's topping out at 100 on eBay.
If it hurts him, well, he ain't letting it show;
he's convinced himself that he's already let go.

So calm as he starts to take pics of his wheelchair.
I was sure he'd have listed it if I wasn't right there.
I said, 'Come on bro let me lend you a hand,
saving ass at Da-Nang must be worth least 2 grand.'

Next thing he's crying as I point to the screen.
My sniper's won his medals for 115.


My sister's girlfriend still works as a dancer.
Daughter asked what she did nights, she couldn't answer.
Ever since her man left it's covered the rent,
though by month end all that she's worked for is spent.

Since 16 she's been hiding the truth,
behind the last vestige of laughter and youth.
Blush and nail polish to cover the hurt
since the night that her father tested her worth.

Last night her baby opened up the closet,
put on music, mirror-danced in her outfits.
When she went upstairs and saw, she screamed and grabbed her,
tore off the clothes, shook her and slapped her.

Her greatest fear true, her daughter now knows.
22 and the tragedy grows.


So here I am dealing measures of hope,
benjamins in an unmarked envelope;
holding outstretched hand to desperate hand,
with my feet firmly planted in the quicksand.

How it all led here, I don't really know;
you start with the weed and you end with the blow.
I tell myself I'm here for a reason, for good,
as if I'm some homey robin freaking hood.

Am I the disease or part of the cure?
If only the answer could be more sure.
All this might change if I could just reboot,
or find the courage to finally shoot.

I wear my conscience like a dark leather jacket,
.357 in the inside pocket.


  1. Someone challenged me to write a rap, and I decided to write one as a sonnet sequence, for good measure. Because the sonnet doesn't impose itself on the listener when the piece is performed, I think it worked.

    Each couplet can be considered a self-contained text message verse.

    'Sonnets B4 the Blaze' was published in OCHO #24, in a special edition spotlighting works from poets on Twitter.

  2. Builds beautifully; the last stanza rocks.

  3. Works, yes, as you say, as a performance piece. Has to be read aloud with emphasis on the beat. (Typo in line 4? -- Some capital.) Thinkin' a bit I realize how inane my statement is: ALL poetry should be read aloud. Think I was trying to say this doesn't work UNLESS read aloud, if that makes sense. It's late, mind's fuzzy. Thanks for the special preview.

  4. Your poetry is very beautiful. I follow you on Twitter and you are my favorite thing to read there. My name is Hallie Ruth. I'm a writer too.

  5. Thanks for all the kind words. Actually, I write all my poetry with a mind to possible performance.

    Short link -

  6. Poignant. Gentle yet painfully honest. I really enjoyed reading that and would love to hear it performed.

  7. I have a performance recorded when I did a BlogTalkRadio interview recently - I will post when I find it.

  8. Sam this is so honest and current! One of the great joys I'm grateful for in 2011 is reading your work and finding there the beauty of form realized in a brilliant intellect and a caring soul. Superbly illustrated in this piece, this works as rap, as cant, as catharsis; yet, subtly through sonnet as high poetry. It's an honor to call you friend!

  9. sam this rocks...great storytelling within the couplets...and def poignant and real...def catch a rap slant to this one...

  10. Painfully real--the understatement and the beat do a dance with the words, which makes you forget it's a sonnet per se, and also numbs the pain until the brain grabs the message. Fine work.

  11. I like the rappy feel of these, and the voices sound authentic. I think they work on the page too, because the beat is so strong and the vernacular so convincing.

    The grim subject matter needs to be confronted squarely, just like this.

    I agree that the sonnet form is not intrusive here.

  12. lovely story within couplets form.
    way to go.

    Happy New Year.

  13. Anonymous7:42:00 PM

    before reading the first comment, i thought, this sounds like a great rap.

    good story too


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