Ruthlessly Pruning My First Sonnet

Bob Varettoni
2 min readFeb 21, 2024

One assignment in a recent poetry class was to take a poem I’ve written before and pare it down by focusing on the economy of language.

I’m all for economy of language. As a journalist and editor in my past life, I let hardly any adjective or adverb survive.

But life has changed. At recent readings, I’ve been captivated by the performance aspect of poetry, less so with classical poetic form.

So I took this opportunity to take the first sonnet I ever wrote… for a girl… in college… when I thought I was so smart… and ruthlessly prune it to reflect my current life… for anyone who might care… right here… when I simply crave relevance and connection.

Sonnet 1

There’s something in the air, or so they say.
It’s certainly not magic or the heat.
It’s just the moon, white-full and young — the way,
like water, people splash and spill beneath.

And you and I remind me of the tides.
We hate and love; we rise and fall. It scares
me that I don’t know why or that I find
no fault in us, just something in the air.

So still above us rests the moon, content
and seemingly unmoved. It doesn’t hate
or love; it doesn’t care — without relent,
without a passing judgment of our fate.

The moonlight falls like smoke between the mist.
What fools we are compared to such as this.

Sonnet Unbound

You and I are tides
under a faithless light.

We rise and fall,
splash and spill.

in the mist.

in our love and hate.

The moon,
relentless and immutable,

casts indifferent shadows
on our foolish fate.

Originally published at



Bob Varettoni

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