May 17, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Gift Habeshaw photo



Christopher Keaveney





The Boy Who Ate Nothing But Sonnets



Having mastered taking it the wrong way by age fourteen the boy found himself looking for greater challenges, taking a new tack with the stepdad who was always there to remind him that even indifference comes with a hefty price tag. After blowing out his arm perfecting the screwball in high school, he turned naturally to Songs of Innocence and Experience, Howl, The Sorrow Dance, Fieldwork and Elizabethan Sonnets in the bargain bins, the poetry workshop in the library, little room behind the stacks that he didn’t know existed, learning the ropes along with two retirees, an ex-cop and a pretty girl with braids. Summer job roofing, if you can’t do, teach–the weight of contrition subject to approval. Sweetness squandered on the drum set, the house band in an apocalyptic mood, the barely legible bass line. Dereliction of the common man, feigning insouciance at open mike night in a Bleeker Street dive age eighteen, first time long time, a stunning reversal of fortune. Petrarch was a stickler but the Elizabethans had their own twang, dodging the volta of indiscretion. He hadn’t yet learned to live up to the hype of the cereal box, to the cloying sweetness of the surprise couplet, small wounds for the tinkering. The old poet traded nickel bags for iambs. That’s not what I meant by the Spenserian quatrain she would lament and fold his most recent effort into an origami fox. Truancy should have known better. The signage was clear: Walk-ins welcome just meant he had to try harder.






Christopher Keaveney

Christopher T. Keaveney teaches Japanese language and East Asian culture at Linfield College in Oregon and is the author of three books about Sino-Japanese cultural relations. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Columbia Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Minetta Review, Stolen Island, Faultline,Wilderness House Literary Review, and elsewhereand he is the author of the collection Your Eureka not Mined (Broadstone Books, 2017).

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