I learned today that the good folks at Geist are holding a jackpine sonnet contest. I don't usually enter poetry competitions, but this one's sorely tempting. I've written many jackpine sonnets (such as the recently published "I", which I thought would be a more orthodox sonnet at first, but click, it insisted on ending 11 lines in) over the years and to some degree the jackpine principle informs my whole approach to stanza and meter--i.e., do it by ear, not according to a prescribed set of rules. The jackpine principle is also in evidence in many, if not most, of the sonnets in Jailbreaks (the title was chosen in part to hint at that).
Wells' jackpine sonnet I is published at Encore Literary Magazine. Read it below:
Such a slim barrow into which to stuff
a life; such a narrow beam to cross
and brace the walls. Pollarded and shallow-
rooted, it resists the winds, persists
despite its pruning. Stiff and stolid
in its ramrod stance, it stands, but shifts
and strays when no one’s watching. It sees
the road ahead, but is always looking
back. It asserts and it equivocates.
It makes mistakes. It flirts with grief and grace.
It wears a mask to hide its missing face.