Seven Sonnets By David Houston



The scarlet letter’s back (unclean) in play.

This process of unthought discovery

presents another willing debauchee.

What – in the bed of a sin – can it weigh?

Speak bleedin’ English s’il vous fucking plait.

Now fractal dissolution’s guarantee

(dispensed by sleight of no known pharmacy)

may tempt the staunchest ham to underplay.


No fling here if the coconuts are shy.

Reluctant guttersnipes are turning pro,

while reformatting vengeance as virtue.

To this the winking skunk-eye gives the lie,

but who’ll pay if we burn the casino?

It’s in the paper so it must be true…




All manner of thing may just be OK:

component heterogeneity

disdains insidious hegemony.

(Life’s like a porn-star – fuck you come what may.)

Dense underhand fecundity’s decay

makes the filthiest attempt to sully

(like breast-stroke in a wet-suit built for three)

refrain from ending in this roundelay.


Like the man said – “the other is the eye”;

who cares what makes your poxy garden grow?

A hundred thousand scatterlings turn blue

where concrete needs its cracks to beautify.

Something made me do this but I don’t know –

a double’s seen as frightfully non-U.




The premise of a promise to betray

the skid-marks of a higher symmetry:

whoever fed this flighty parody

a version emphasised in firmer clay

discards a few old tunes that overlay

the last resort’s disastrous recipe

for strengthening the songlines’ pedigree;

and having done that, no one cries “hooray”.


Evasive certainty will clarify

a scratchy hommage à M. Queneau.

The mess remaining when our troops withdrew

let flowering a weed personify

while sniggering at C-list camel-toe

astride a place that doesn’t care it’s you.




Veracious hunger of the best cliché

crossing state lines like a tongue’s refugee

as slick as genital diplomacy,

bonelessly proud in its honest display

against which all right-thinking cunts inveigh.

A wicked penny on a spending spree

from our unwarranted complacency:

starting the trip with a tour of the bay…


A maze you wouldn’t want to simplify,

echoing a piteous crescendo

with telling’s short account long overdue.

Here every little thing will qualify

to torch the Big One’s stupefying glow,

a streaky microhaiku’s residue.




A cocksure swordsman in a pink beret

pitched into stark abyssal jeopardy

this terrible semantic jamboree.

Ahead in all its hairy disarray

that pixilated juke-box led astray

your bucket-list’s unbiddable banshee

when all we really want is the story:

a pot-hole in the road to Mandalay.


The old man’s scissors come to codify

the open shadow at its own window.

The walk would walk and step so far askew –

straightforward stuff all good dreams must defy.

It came to parse the last trochee on show –

no sense sublime in this unmapped bayou.




When their Catullus walked the Milky Way

the sense you were born with to referee

bound the bitch to you in delicacy

lest a nocturnal hunter stop to flay

by white van to the Hammersmith Palais

from which only the fittest fools will flee

an afterlife of endless repartee

where rules arrange themselves to disobey…


The line to follow will soon liquefy.

In midst of death, we are in heat, and blow.

Nothing original left in plain view –

this lighter hand a glance will petrify.

Bad-ass mo-fo with a jumbo mojo

lacks the will to pack up and continue.




The crackle of crème de la crème brulée:

a plain description of something pretty.

A word in all its trite profundity –

belief reduced to fabulous purée

where nothing will, if nothing else, dismay

experimental lark’s ascendancy.

Spirits rise to dance in logomancy.

(Shit’s still shit, whether Xerox or blu-ray.)


This answer to the riddle rhymes with sky:

how many syllables remain below

a toxic spread the wise tooth will eschew?

Each sentence broken down to mollify

is soon devoured by a ravenous crow,

a French toast raised to all our mots perdus.


Never apologise; never explain. Here goes:

the set in question is a nod to Burroughs/Gysin

& Queneau. With a few small, obvious exceptions,

the component lines and phrases are my own,

each written for the purpose to a pattern, always

late at night in an attempt to tune in to the random

verbal improvising that precedes (creates/exposes)

dreaming. When I had the 98 lines required,

they were stuck on the back of 98 index cards,

and each set of 5 vowel-rhymes was shuffled

before 7 blind selections were made.

Once I had 7 sets of 7, with the required Petrarchan

rhyme-scheme always available, I relaxed the Rule

of Random and swapped some lines around within

each sonnet, adding punctuation and adjusting

prepositions or verb-forms to allow a carapace

of sense to grow across each grid. If it works at all

the sequence’s effect will be vaguely oneiric.


David Houston

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