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Thanks to a residency at EcoHealth, my verse these days finds inspiration in the specter of future pandemics; for my dissertation at LMU München, where I tutor composition and edit a poetry weekly, I'm anatomizing the prosody of E. A. Robinson's sonnets—I also teach at MVHS and lead the Amerikahaus Literary Circle.


from The Laurel Wreath

by Mark Olival-Bartley


For, like the laurels wrapped around your rings
encompassing each golden hemisphere
with a resolve as tough as ivy clings,
affection burgeons when its aim is clear
yet withers when its resolution swings
between the stuff of doubt and crippling fear,
observe how these engraven branches meet--
wound up and bound on but a single side--
to share their wisdom with the groom and bride.

Like love's impression on your goodly hearts,
the feats of grace are always incomplete
as rings that swim from where the pebble dints
will not be broken and cannot brake since
the pause of one is where the other starts.


The pause of one is where the other starts.
Indeed, as waves upon Kailua Beach
are wont to sluice with a Petrarchan reach,
the wellspring of my love, my love, departs
from deep within my undulating soul,
whose course was winding but was always true,
for it made landfall on the shore of you,
where it unearthed élan and made me whole.
If romance has meaning, it must be this.

To plumb the pleasures of conjugal bliss
that are the outright gift of man and wife,
embrace this couplet by the perfect kiss:
With promised trust and favored touch made rife,
go forth together, then, and live your life.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

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