Sonnet on First Seeing It

How night can elide such solidities, only
the arch’s girders lit by the taillights of early
morning cars, then like the twin hills
of some cadaverous kingdom, the topmost
lattice rises, sketches itself apart from sky.
The man who imagined this design in the denouement
of the Depression had dome in his mind, without doubt,
but one triangled with air, the juxtapose
between shifting weather and the certainty of steel.
Empire, however nebulous, embossed as cicatrice
and emblem, before graffiti darkened the intent
to surmount the underside, the truth.
And now nearly the whole bower of commerce
is visible; and yet the art of it endures.

Questions and Answers

iv. As a published writer, what are your tips or words of motivation for the aspiring poet?

We are ALWAYS aspiring poets; we never arrive. Write every day. Draw your energies from as many sources, genres and mediums as possible. Don’t get distracted by competitions or prizes or any other external kinds of validation if you can. You write poetry because you love the auralities of language and how it moves people mysteriously. Never forget that.

i.    What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?

I was living in New Westminster, BC in a high rise and I became fascinated by the history of the Pattullo Bridge, built during Depression times and now threatened by destruction. Each day I could see the bridge from my window and its beauty, history and use drew poems from me.

ii. What poetic techniques did you use in this poem? How much attention do you pay to form and metre?

Sonnet on First Seeing it is indeed a sonnet, with 14 lines and a turn of knowledge at the close, though it doesn’t stick to iambic pentameter or a strict rhyme scheme. However, the poem has much internal rhythm and plenty of alliteration, intensifying its music. Form and metre in multiple ways are key to writing a strong poem as the structure and musicality shape the content and allow it to transcend the personal and appeal to the unknown other.

This poem “Sonnet on First Seeing It” originally appeared in Rescaling CanLit: Global Readings Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 238 (2019): 12.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.