The poet who commits to fourteen lines
Finds focus and a certain inspiration,
While words that don’t conduce his destination
Can have no place in sonnet’s strict confines.
A marriage, or a pledge made to a child
Can focus life, as poems focus art
A parent pares all that cannot be part
Of life that son and daughter have beguiled
He feels he’s both the finder and the found;
His yoke is tight, but surely it is his.
He bucks and starts, acknowledging what is
His lot and manifest, to which he’s bound.
The sum of his creation stands or falls
On what transpires within these prison walls.
— JJM = #60 in the I Ching Sonnet Project
You’ve found the spark that makes the sun burn bright
and tracked the orbits of the distant stars.
You’ve harnessed energy for planes and cars—
success convinces you you’ve got it right.
You think the rule of physics must be strict,
yet only in the aggregate do maths
apply to living things. Their single paths
take twists and turns that you cannot predict.
Man’s thirst for knowledge never can be quenched
while minds refuse to grant the role of mind
that regulates the quantum. You won’t find
broad truth while narrow physics is entrenched.
What sort of physics would it take to know
how neurons fire, hearts beat, and grasses grow?
— sonnet by JJM (not part of the I Ching)
Your isolation, not inborn, was taught
To you. You had to learn to feel apart.
Contracted and alone within your heart,
Connection is the soul of all you’ve sought.
Pursuing one who’s worthy of your love,
You’ve known great blessing, calling her your wife.
And then this child, whom you love more than life
Has taught you lessons you never dreamed of.
That love is not a thing one can deserve
That will-to-power yields to will-to-serve.
Your family is a microcosm where
You need not pose or try to prove you care.
All roles are tried here, dreams and visions nursed
And to the end, your family will come first.
— JJM = #37 in the I Ching Sonnet Project
With great and persistent effort have I campaigned to abolish “shoulds” from my psyche, to free myself from the judging voice of the superego, and unconstrained by shaming. This wasn’t easy, but I did it because, deep within me, I knew it’s what I should do.
Now I have succeeded. What should I do next?
Arising torrent sweeps away the past.
The cleansing of some ways is overdue,
But must inspired beauty perish, too?
You’ve known that nothing physical can last
Forever, yet you mourn the senseless loss,
The indiscrim’nate dissolution of
Your culture, nature, people that you love
Along with the corruption, lies, the dross
Of institutions that outlived their use.
There’s no resisting any tide so strong.
But is your substance pure enough to be
The water that diffuses and renews?
If not, then you, too, must be swept along
Recycled into new reality…
It may not be your place to choose.
— JJM = #29 in the I Ching Sonnet Project
Sonnet + One
Art by Denise Weaver Ross
Obstruction seems as real as it can be.
Your forward path is blocked, and no retreat
Is left to you; you sense certain defeat
Awaits, in all directions you can see.
The obstacles are physical and real
Enough, beyond your power to surmount.
Yet externalities cannot account
For desperate emotions that you feel.
You turn within—you have no other choice
Since outward acts have no remaining scope.
You contemplate the feelings in your gut
Without belief or expectation, but,
From whence you cannot tell, a voice
Arises, past all reason, offering hope.
— JJM = #39 in the I Ching Sonnet Project
Violence and cruelty are part of God’s world. I embrace and I celebrate God’s world, in all its complexity.
I withdraw from the realm of good and evil, and judge not right or wrong.
I choose not to participate in violence or cruelty, directly or by proxy.
I do not blame the cat who torments mice
Nor scold the child who overturns his food.
I cradle both without e’en thinking twice
And deem this love a cause for gratitude.
But me—I mark my blameless days long gone.
I dare not dream of innocence regained
While daily nightmares dwell on tasks undone.
My frank facade I know is frankly feigned.
Why not expand the compass of my ruth
Beyond the years which men excuse by youth?
Is universal innocence a truth
That’s viable and worthy of acclaim?
To view all souls about me without blame
And in the end to lift my veil of shame.
— JJM = #15 in the I Ching Sonnet Project
One day, you’ll choose to die. You won’t decide
With conscious mind, but somewhere deep inside
Is knowledge of a portal you’ll pass through.
Another world is beckoning to you.
One day, you chose to live. That was before
You had a brain or corpse. Sensation nor
Cognition were entailed, the barest gist
Of you resolved (corporeally) to exist.
And while you’re here, that essence uncongealed
Remains elusive, its soft whispers drowned
By sound and light and most especially pain.
When you will ask, “Who am I”, when you’ve peeled
Away all thought and feeling, you’ll astound
Yourself in being you again.
— JJM = #61 in the I Ching Sonnet Project
Wind stirs water by penetrating it. Thus the superior man, when obliged to judge the mistakes of men, tries to penetrate their minds with understanding, in order to gain a sympathetic appreciation of the circumstances. In ancient China, the entire administration of justice was guided by this principle. A deep understanding that knows how to pardon was considered the highest form of justice. This system was not without success, for its aim was to make so strong a moral impression that there was no reason to fear abuse of such mildness. For it sprang not from weakness but from a superior clarity.</small>
I’m often hard on those I love, I know.
It is not kind to them, and (what is more)
This attitude degrades my sacred core
And hinders my ability to grow.
It seems to you that I’m fore’er at war,
My invitation, beating down your door.
Please recognize from whence my passions flow
Conformity is all that I abhor.
When friends repeat what they have heard before
They spurn the loving ear that I bestow.
My quest is for your individual light
And I lament when those I love take flight.
I wish not to disrupt or gather storms,
But liberate from strict, confining norms.