Pauletta Hansel

Northside, Night and Day


In August I had the pleasure of leading my first Cincinnati Walking Sonnet group—a new Poet Laureate project in which I invite poets to take a walk in one of our 52 neighborhoods, drafting a 14 line poem along the way. A full description of the project can be found here, as well links to instructions for the sonnet walk and to an ever-growing group of poems written on these walks.

Our first group foray was in the Northside neighborhood where I lived for many years. It was hosted by Chase Public, a small volunteer organization with a prodigious output of activities and talent. Seven poets participated, and from our seven poems I created an additional sonnet pair, Northside: Night and Day. I hope you enjoy reading it half as much as I enjoyed composing it!


Northside Nocturne

I must be dreaming we must be dreaming we
drop puddles on gravel and see what grows
through the mural, bright blues, greens. Brilliant
oak tree’s wise nod above it all. Clatter
and strands of ivy shelter noisy birds.
Storefronts stocked with pitchforks and stuffed bears.
Some dreams are accidents, conceived ad hoc
on a leash. The american dream remains
another world—not here. Porch strung with lights,
though the funeral home is long dead,
turret over its rosy door. Word Alive,
this aching love, ever denied me.
No revelation lurks backside Taco Bell;
inspiration needs a good night’s sleep.

Northside Aubade

Sun opened warm on my shoulder, shrugged
through red bricked alleys, pooled with morning rain.
Every day life happens alongside hope;
pink clovers sprouting from cigar tip. Red
sagging rooflines and cheap UDF beer—
a crazy quilt of movement, sight and sound
playing the mystery mixer’s song. Shadows
ride a cosmic horse with insect wings.
A grey galaxy is spinning outside
this block like where grandma’s liquor store stood.
Cicada shells hang empty from a pole—
spontaneous permanence; three circles.
The quiet library. Garbage and smoke—
the phrase the american dream holds so much.
Composed by Pauletta Hansel with lines by Ellen Austin-Li, Cris Cheek, Leslie Clark, Owen Cramer, Pauletta Hansel, Scott Holzman and Nina Knueven. You can read the poems in their entirety here.

The next Cincinnati Walking Sonnet Workshop is October 29, 2016, 10:30 am to 1:00 pm at the Mercantile Library, Downtown. Visit Poet Laureate Events for info on this and other activities.


The Cincinnati Walking Sonnet Project is adapted from Rosa Alcalá’s “A Walking Petrarchan Sonnet” in Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry