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Guest Poet James Gramann

The Empty Bench

(Buen Retiro Park, Madrid)

On a sudden cloudbursting of wings,
pigeons startle. Their shudder animates
the heat where an empty bench awaits
its couple. A minstrel's violin, on strings

of Gypsy sorrow, wails a song that clings
like sympathy dismayed by last regrets
of lovers. Its tremolo disintegrates
the solitude, showering the kings'

retreat, a storm of Spanish summer, severer
for the slant of tears, tautly supple
as the heat it simmers on--Until in vain

the music ebbs, its echo like a mirror
that reflects upon the absent couple,
a solitude left dry by futile rain.

September, 2002

James Gramann's questions:

1. Is the violin's sympathetic response to the bench's missing couple
apparent in this sonnet?

2. Does characterizing the music as brief and futile rain work?

3. Many great public parks in European capitals were once royal
gardens, thus the reference to the "kings' retreat." Is this too


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