What If My Time

What if my time is limited? if all
That I have left is perhaps months, not years,
All laden with the worries and the fears
Surrounding what is death. Can I recall
A time when all the cares of life were small,
And I would not yield up to silent tears,
Or what to high anxiety adheres,
As I am just about to take a fall?

I need a calm and steady state of mind,
Where I can take control of the unknown,
The frightful darkness that can make me blind,
The secret terror place that is my own;
I must thus steady stay, and then remind
My weaker self what better thought has known.



What Once Was Is No More

What once was is no more. I say goodbye
To youth and to the struggles of the past,
And sometimes shed a tear. I stand steadfast,
And look ahead, and then I heave and sigh,
And mourn the loss of what has come to die.
The unavoidable will thus contrast
With sprightly, lively living that has passed;
This new-old entity can mystify.

I now accept the change that comes with age:
The greying and the fading energies
That cause me to look inward, as a sage
Would, finding meaningful philosophies;
And still I put my thoughts and heart to page
In hopes that I retain my faculties.



The Rise of Fall

There were such pretty flowers in the spring:
The fragrant colors of a verdant time;
Such fresh potentiality, sublime
In all the loveliness that they did bring.
Then summer issued forth a deep wellspring,
Maturely ripening, where vines would climb
And trees begin to bulge. This is the prime
Of life when growth will dance and sway and sing.

But autumn is the time of now. I stand
Amid the harvests and the fruit. The change
Between the then and now, it leaves me jaded;
I barely have the bearings to withstand
This person of today. Indeed, how strange,
How much the beauty of the past has faded.


previously published in Mezzo Cammin: An Online Journal of Formalist Poetry by Women



Theresa Rodriguez is the author of Jesus and Eros: Sonnets, Poems and Songs, a sonnet chapbook, and her third book of poetry, entitled Longer Thoughtswhich has just been released by Shanti Arts. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Religion and Intellectual Life, the Midwest Poetry Review, Leaf Magazine, the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship, The Road Not Taken: A Journal of Formal Poetry, Mezzo Cammin, and the Society of Classical Poets. Her website is www.bardsinger.com.

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21 Responses

  1. M. P. Lauretta

    What lovely, lovely poems!

    I absolutely enoyed every single one of them.

    Thank you for sharing them with us.

    • Theresa Rodriguez

      Thank you for your comments, Sally. The first sonnet was a reaction to a cancer scare that I had last fall. The other two are sober reflections on the aging process. I would hope they would not be so much depressing as truthful! Thanks again for your encouragement, all is definitely not over!

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    All three are fine work, but I especially like the last, which reminds me of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 (“That time of year thou mayst in me behold…”). Its title “The Rise of Fall” is inspired.

    • Theresa Rodriguez

      Wow, what a comparison, Dr. Salemi! Thank you so much for your appreciation and comments!

  3. Monty

    For the attention of CB Anderson only (if he sees this).

    Regarding our recent discussion on the use of question-marks, and in particular my assertion (right or wrong) that a question-mark should always be followed by a capital-letter . . I’d be interested to learn of your view on the first line of the first poem above.

    • James A. Tweedie

      In dialogue, a question mark is treated as a comma as in, “Where are you going?” he asked. The word “he” would not be capitalized. So there are exceptions. But this certainly doesn’t relate to your specific question for Theresa.

    • Theresa Rodriguez

      I was wondering about it myself, Monty. It just seemed right not to capitalize it since the initial question did not seem to be a complete thought. But I am willing to change it if it is better to capitalize it. Thanks for your comment.

      • Monty

        I didn’t feel it was important enough to address you personally, Theresa. I only addressed CB because we had a discussion on this subject last week – with differing opinions.

        But seeing as you ask: Until today, I’d never before looked-up the official usage of question-marks. I’d always taken it as a given that they must always be followed by a capital letter. But after Mr Tweedie’s assertion below stating that there can be exceptions to this rule, I decided to do a little digging; and it transpires that he is indeed correct in asserting that there’s an exception to the rule when a question-mark is used in quoted speech/dialogue. Here’s what I found: ‘A question-mark replaces a full-stop at the end of a sentence. As such, the following word should always be capitalised, except after quoted dialogue’.. as Mr Tweedie exemplified with: “Where are you going?” he asked.

        So there you have it, Theresa: unless there are speech-marks involved, a question-mark should always be followed by a capital letter, because a question-mark acts as a full-stop . . thus the word which follows it is the start of a new sentence.

        Regarding your second poem above: as well as being well written, it’s very philosophy can help one to “accept the change that comes with age”.. because age will afford you more time to “put your thoughts and heart to page”.. which, in turn, should help to ensure that you “retain your faculties”.

      • Theresa Rodriguez

        Thanks for your research, Monty. And I am glad to see that the philosophy behind “What once was is no more” can be of benefit to you! I appreciate your kind comments!

      • Monty

        Well, I was thinking of the “benefit” it could have on others, Theresa. Luckily, I haven’t started to feel that way yet. I’m 57, but I don’t really feel any different to when I was 47! Saying that, I’m fully aware that I could be riddled with arthritis in three year’s time.

      • Theresa Rodriguez

        I’m glad you still feel as young as you did ten years ago, Monty. I am nearing 58 and I have definitely felt the aging process over the last 5-7 years particularly. As you see, it is the subject of much of my poetry of late.

      • Christina

        Theresa, Monty and James, the first and second sentences of the first (very lovely and comsoĺing) poems are long and complex. Theresa, you begin the second one with “Can I recall….” and continue to the sentence end and question-mark aftet “…take a fall’. The first sentence should be treated similarly, with a comma, not a question-mark, after ‘limited’, and the question mark in its proper place at ‘ďeath’ – the end of this sentence.

      • Theresa Rodriguez

        Christina, you are right. I was also thinking that might be the answer. I will amend it for the second edition of Sonnets, which I am working on at this very moment. Thank you for your insight and suggestion, I very much appreciate it.

      • Monty

        Well played, Christina: you’ve eclipsed us all. I only saw a question-mark without a succeeding capital letter, and immediately jumped the gun without looking any further. I can now see what you’re saying: it’s a sequence of related questions ending with the word ‘death’, hence that’s where the question-mark should be . . and the existing question-mark should be replaced with a comma.

        Yours is the final word on the matter.

      • Theresa Rodriguez

        I changed it in my manuscript to Chirstina’s suggestion and it definitely reads better. Thank you Monty, James and Christina for caring about the “little” things in poetry that are nevertheless important to the overall quality of one’s work!

  4. Leo Zoutewelle

    I thought these poems to be quite comforting, as I am old myself.
    Thanks, Theresa!

  5. Jonathan Kinsman

    Theresa, in my very humble and sincere opinion, I believe the third sonnet to be the most effective. For it is there that your fine language makes a connection (allusive) to your sexuality (I mean this in its traditional sense: you as a physically and intellectually maturing woman):

    “. . . where vines would climb/And trees begin to bulge.”

    When we make those connections (more an extended metaphor, I guess, than an obvious, ” X is Y” sort of thing), we become part of that great Tradition ( “tradere:” ‘to give[hand] over’) that our humanity shares in with its Arts.

    Your poems are full of smooth and rhythmic grace. I believe a little seasoning of paprika or garlic powder [sorry! always thinking food!] with allusions to specific scenes in life or personal experience, would elevate them to Parnassus! That’s my tuppence, O lady of the Harvest! [I tend to know names, I am a teacher of English and always introduce my 8th graders to the meaning of their praenomen] Jonathan.

    • Theresa Rodriguez

      Thank you Jonathan, “gift of God,” for your comments, which took my breath away. Yes, I am “The Reaper” indeed! I also think “The Rise of Fall” to be the best of the three sonnets. Although I have been writing sonnets nigh on forty years, I only began exploring the Petrarchan form this past summer. I find it particularly effective for introspection. Many thanks again for your thoughts about my work!


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