The Signs

(In this piece, I experimented with form. It is a variation of the rondeau, a short fifteen line poem with a repeated line as a refrain. Each stanza corresponds to one of the twelve astrological signs of the zodiac, which are subdivided into the four elements. See if you can match them all!)


The Sun needs no reminder to keep burning
As we approach, they rush to raise the drawbridge.
When the battering ram is barely visible over the far ridge,
the Earth trembles beneath and our enemies ahead,
while behind Mars’ ruthless inferno spreads.

Her majesty eyes the flaming horizon unfazed
mortals retreat but our lioness’ arrogance blazed,
for Suns need not remind a daughter to keep burning
no mere man could hope to challenge her dominion,
the Queen’s ego was not subject to peasants’ opinions.

In the carnage of the frontline, gallops a lone archer
second to none, only Achilles could have pierced farther,
The truth of his shot second only to that of his words
his quiver would empty before his worth,
because a Sun needs no reminder to keep burning.


Twin sophists sat giggling at their own verbal tricks
Two brilliant minds, each offering far more than quips
One gifted in vibrant arts the other in deep philosophies
Imitation and adaptation their only policies
Winds and wit waltz inside the cooling breeze of the whirlwind.

At the head of the table, the intellectual balance is perched
Calmer of the gales of debate yet indecision keeps her inert
Winds and wit converge to clear skies at the eye of the storm
Armed with diplomacy she purges bias, bigotry, and lies
But debauchery clouds her sight and compromise subsides.

Winds and wit turn to tempests, buffeting order in a raging typhoon
His breath saturated with ideals churns waves of change
Will reinforced by wisdom his spoken tsunami leaves no remains
He speaks of freedom of independence and of liberation
Yet believes practicing reform is too great a temptation.


Less broth brewed and more envy bubbled in the ship’s canteen
day by day the Chef cooks with less spice and more sting
ambitious alchemy leads to poisoned pots and dreams
who would paddle shallow waters when in sinful depths sirens sing?
The captain’s mortality was bursting at its seams

A doctor’s life pursued to ease others’ bleeding pains
bleeds irony when the cleric herself is prone to disease of the brain
An angelfish daughter of romance and remedies she swam best in schools
But out of fear she paddles shallow waters when others risk deeper pools.
this shy chantey laments a mind fermenting in its own emotional strain

At the helm, an aquanaut slices the sea with his ship like claws
waves willingly part for a man who twists landlubbers to his cause
his resolve salted by brine, his wishes hardened to a shell
he forgot how to paddle shallow waters, his home is in deeper swells.
but his crusted heart erodes to sand, even mermaids tire of Neptune’s Laws


Peaks crumbled to pebbles under his horned pickaxe,
a bull-headed brute, rubies were his matador’s muletas.
Day after day stubborn steel will shatters rock hearts,
but even metal is made malleable in a lover’s hearth.
He seeks jewels but looks to her for Earth’s treasures.

She, his perfectionist who polishes his ruggedness to brilliance
Scraping away each grain until it reaches scarlet candescence.
“to birth beauty is to make thy self less ugly,” she chants.
A maiden for all except he, who corrupts with only a glance.
She milks gem from stone but looks to him for Earth’s treasures.

This woman’s treasure is her father’s greatest disappointment
A princess’s life without her father’s crown is pointless.
A king accustomed to admiration, reputation always came first.
Greedy Baphomet picks rubies from his son-in-law’s hearse.
He craves crystals when her smile contains all of Earth’s treasures.

1) Aries
2) Leo
3) Sagittarius

4) Gemini
5) Libra
6) Aquarius

7) Scorpio
8) Pisces
9) Cancer

10) Taurus
11) Virgo
12) Capricorn

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