Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 7
Spring 2013

Sonnets vs. Trees

by Fred Moramarco

In response to a rant by Al Zolynas
Unless it has the symmetry of these 
iambic feet snugged up in fourteen lines 
& filled to boot with mete & fitting rhymes 
the sonnet isn’t one. Nor will it please 
the reader’s ear: though substitutions tease
the palate, nonetheless a sonnet’s chimes  
must ring in perfect pitch & at all times!
Otherwise you’re merely killing trees.
Don’t do it, man! I beg you, let them be
live creatures of live woodlands. If you love
the elegance of octave and quatrain, 
the perfect phrase (i.e., “They flee from me...”)
all well & good. If not, best let them live:
a home to birds, to sunrise, sky and rain.


SHJ Issue 7
Spring 2013

Fred (Federico) Moramarco

who died on February 13, 2012, was the author and editor of several books, including Containing Multitudes: Poetry in the US since 1950; Men of Our Time (an anthology of world poetry edited with Al Zolynas); and Deliciously Italian, a book about Italian cooking and cuisine.

He was a poet, literary critic, professor of literature at SDSU [San Diego State University], producer, director, and actor. He was the Founding Editor of Poetry International, co-produced the award-winning Hannah and Martin at the Lyceum Theater in 2006, and performed at the Old Globe, The San Diego Rep, Sledgehammer, Diversionary Theatre, and with other San Diego theatre companies. His poem, “Elegy for Kenneth Koch,” was awarded a Pushcart Prize in 2012.

A much loved member of the Southern California literary and theater community, Federico died of cardiac arrest the evening before Valentine’s Day, 2012.

[SHJ Issue 5 (Spring 2012) includes five poems by Moramarco.]

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury