Lunch Poems

Todd Squires, Typewriter, 2014. Courtesy the artist and Baang + Burne, via Artsy.

Alternate Forms for Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18

The Bard’s most famous sonnet very nearly wasn’t a Shakespearean sonnet. Rejected pairings of content and form, from rondelet to an acrostic hiding his name.

Spenserian Sonnet

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

Sometime the sun’s release be far too great,
And often his complexion overshines;
And every fair from fair needs must abate,
By chance or nature’s obdurate designs.

But thy eternal summer ne’er resigns,
Nor will thy beauty precious fair be trimm’d;
Nor shall Death snare thy spirit in his vines,
When in eternal writing thou be pinned.

So long as men can breathe or souls hath prayed,
So long lives this, and thus thy life is made.


Petrarchan Sonnet

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do darling buds bow under weight,
And summer’s lease hath little time to play.

Sometime too hot is heaven’s bright display,
And often be its gold reduced to slate;
And every fair from fair will yet deflate,
By chance or nature’s promise of decay.

But thy eternal summer ne’er unwinds,
Nor shalt thou lose the name of fairest-skinned;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade.

Love, thou growest to time’s eternal lines:
So long as men can breathe, with eyes unrimm’d,
So long lives this, and so to love we’re bade.



Summer’s fairest day
Lost to Death or wind or cloud;
Beauty thine writ down.



Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
These lines will spare thee from this life’s decay.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath far too short a date.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Sometime the sun doth cruelly heat relay
And often is that same heat’s reign upset.
These lines will spare thee from this life’s decay.

All fairness must decline, and from fair stray,
By chance or nature’s unrelenting threat.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Yet poetry will time’s pale hand delay,
And stop gray Death collecting on thy debt.
These lines will spare thee from this life’s decay.

So long lives this, a promise cast in clay,
If men can see, or breathe, or linger yet—
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
These lines will spare thee from this life’s decay.



Can I write that you’re like a nice day?
No, your beauty will not go away.
Sunshine’s not always bright,
But I’ll totally write
You a poem, so living you’ll stay.





Will fade

But your life

In a poem




A question posed in this, a lover’s May:
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate
And best the dimming cloud that covers day.

And every fair from fair sometime declines,
And chance and nature’s cold course plunders day.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Not e’en to Death whose grim watch numbers day.

For I, the Bard, write, saving thee in lines
That live till no eyes see light, colors, day.



Summer beauty,
Shaking, dimming, fading—
Captured in these lines:



The summer’s day is lovely.
Shall I compare you?
Will you die?



Shakespeare’s fair youth
Beat out summer, in truth.
When the autumn rolls round
His poem’s still renowned.


Minute Poem

Shall I write you like a hot day
That goes away
Or is your bent
More permanent?

Sometimes the sun, too hot it shines,
Or just resigns;
You won’t be dimmed,
Your life untrimmed.

If I write you in what I’ve made
You cannot fade;
Like sea and coast,
It outlives most.



Shall I compare you to summertime?
You’re more lovely and temperate.
Winds shake May’s buds, clouds hide sun,
And time claims all beauty.
Your summer lives on
In my poem,
You never
Age nor



Like summer,
But more so, your temperate way,
Like summer.
You will not fade nor discolor,
In lines that your beauty convey
You shine like the fires of day,
Like summer.



Appraising beauty—comparing days—
Exemplifies futility, girl.
Handsomeness isn’t just kept.
Life molders. Nothing outlasts.
Permanence questions rise.
Sonneteers think up verses, writing—
X-factor, young zest.



_____ I compare thee to _ summer__ ____

____ ___ more lovely and ____ temperate:

_____ _____ __ _____ ___ darling ____ __ ___,

___ summer’s _____ ____ ___ too short _ ____:

________ ___ ___ ___ ___ __ heaven _______

And _____ __ ___ gold __________ _______

___ _____ ____ ____ ____ ________ decline__

By _______ __ nature’s changing _______ __________

___ ___ _______ summer shall ___ fade,

___ ____ __________ __ ____ ____ thou ______

___ _____ _____ ____ ____ wander’st in ___ shade,

When in eternal _____ __ time ____ ________

__ ____ __ men ___ _______ __ ____ can see_

__ ____ _____ this_ ___ ____ _____ ____ __ _____


Six-Word Story

Summer fades. Beauty worth preserving survives.


Concrete Poem


Free Verse in Anagrams of the Actual Sonnet 18’s Corresponding Lines

I call you empress, madam, a hotter she,
Ephemeral true love dart, too momentary.
Why, a rose of God’s undiluted making—shh, Bard,
Tush, to read her—lament a loss almost ahead.

Oh, I, the aesthete, see emotion, shy of venom;
Good mild-minded companions, sex, filth,
Yet feminine life made of mirrors—cadavers.
Dying occurs—a curse, a hunter matching born men.

Front, men. Mull Death. Her beauty lasts.
Oath: So praiseworthiest of founts, no loss
Hard-hearted will grab at sunshine’s hand: sooth,
What I write on thee is most green, not null.

Arcane season, eternal echoes be my song—
Holiness, highest love lasts, in gift I devote.


Free Verse in Pilish (Lengths of Consecutive Words Matching Digits in Pi)

Can I thee a rhyme formulate to summer light?
You, extra-alluring, temperate, affable, agreeable?
Yet in the powerful wind, greens of spring will jog,
And autumnal end, it arrives hurriedly.

Often irritating is sizzling sunlight;
Also, a fogginess shields a golden formation.
All excellent, stainless and elegant stuff I appreciate shall discolor
By incidental miserable fortune, from universal fate, this life’s destinies.

Oh, thy continuous sparkle outlasts a winter, love;
Enduringly, always, it animates within an attractive fairness, lastingly marvelous, faithful friend.
No chilling foreboding may make whispers of Death say you’d be, O, a cadaver proceeding.
Poetry created eternally lovingly is a home immortal.

Afterwards, humanity abides; while a man be inhaling, an eye perceiving,
Verily, verses mine survive, blissfully providing you eternity.


Shakespearean Sonnet With Acrostic Hiding His Name as Signed in His Will

Will I compare thee to a summer’s day?
In fairness and temper thou would benefit:
Loved buds are roughly shaken when comes May;
Light summer fades in all too short a slit.

Methinks too hot the eye of heaven shines;
So too may be his gold complexion dimm’d.
Heed, every fair from fair sometime declines,
A slave to chance or nature determined.

Know this—thy summer beauty will not fade.
So thou wilt keep that blessed fair thou ow’st;
Proud Death dares not to take thee in his shade—
Eternal lines to time be where thou grow’st.

Recall that men will breathe and eyes will see,
Ensuring this will stand, preserving thee.


Shakespearean Sonnet With Lipogram Omitting the Letter E

Shall I contrast you with an August day?
Thy looks and constancy truly top it:
Rough winds disturb all darling buds of May,
And sunny hours last too short a fit.

Occurs it that it’s far too hot, man finds,
Or much may clouds stop sun, its glow grown dim;
And all good fair from fair will fall, claim signs,
By luck or law of physic, blood and limb.

But thy immortal summit brooks no raid,
Nor shall you drop what fair bloom that you host;
Nor shall fatality’s dark bill go paid,
For in immortal lyrics is thy ghost.

So long as man hath his vitality,
So long stands this, and so, you, constantly.



Oh hell no.