In laughter, one can cure the restless mind—
bring flushes to those cheeks we would adore,
make magic from the dullest realist find,
take mirth from each hard task we most abhor.

What care have I for those who extend spite
when warmth can be what’s shared here for a time?
Is not the man most happy with his kite
if on some flying string his soul can climb?

Such freedoms don’t depend on counted gold,
for men are not contented by their wealth.
We most fear strolls alone as we grow old,
our pleasures more in company and health.

If we two stay quite close, while joy relays,
your smile can salve the pain of wretched days.


Your smile can salve the pain of wretched days.
This I admit and often do proclaim.
It cures my guilt, my none-may-care malaise
to cast aside the terror of my shame.

For I am one too weary (and too scared)
to take up battles I may fear to lose,
but you reduce once crippling thoughts compared
to how I’d view them with such fear reduced.

You soothe me with the most patient of hearts,
to slow me with the calm part of your love—
each bit of progress made in fits and starts—
where earnest pushing never turns to shove.

Thank heavens for a heart that’s true and kind,
should memory bring to fore what’s left behind.


Should memory bring to fore what’s left behind,
I’ll contemplate each heartbreak I’ve endured,
remembering my yesterdays confined
so lacking in self-worth, esteem injured.

For then were days I lost parts of myself,
heart set adrift when false men harmed my soul,
no laughter heard to add to greater health,
no love for visions others could extol.

And if I heard the sounds of others’ joy,
this left me, all the more, in some strange space.
The mirth they shared seemed only love’s decoy;
I did not feel I dwelt in their same place.

I prayed, just then, to mimic normal’s craze,
my joyful sound to bring back joyful ways.


My joyful sound to bring back joyful ways–
This much and more I’d seen with life explored.
A smile to multiply, one’s fears allays–
much more than hateful acts to be deplored.

So lavish me with willful comedy,
the kind to tear my sides and tear my eyes;
one’s humor is ironic remedy
when pain, full twist, contorts to joy’s surprise.

If only we could share this, hearts’ content,
not just our maladies, but also mirth,
such pleasant histories could foil dissent,
like needs create a tightening of our girth.

A moment’s laughter is a moment’s gain:
What better joy (than to escape from pain)?


What better joy than to escape from pain,
as sun that comes to brighten in wet trees
after the gloomy outdoor graying rain,
alighting golden shine drops hung from leaves?

A clown’s face can be funny as it’s cruel,
so painted with its gross, unnatural white,
a garish slash of lips, the crimson rule–
each motion large to falsify a plight.

But pain and pleasure both ride one same nerve,
so this explains our fusion of the two,
our need to know each one, to judgment serve,
so we may fathom which we’d choose anew.

But if we could love lighter, without care—
we should forget what knowing would strip bare.


We should forget what knowing would strip bare
since, from small knowledge, solely harm begets;
confusion can be prized when memories snare
the pain a thinker’d rather he forgets.

Amnesia is as sweet as it is vile,
depending on how pain has marked one’s path.
A murderer would sooner sit and smile,
or laugh instead recall his former wrath.

If only such forgetting killed the crime
such that the wounding act had not occurred,
rewound the wary, ticking hands of time,
so that a better future be secured.

But nothing harmful rendered won’t remain.
A person never free will oft complain.


A person never free will oft complain
his torturer is other than himself,
a guard or man of law who makes the stain,
the keys to his release up on locked shelf.

But never does he more need self-engage,
for honesty creates a level field,
such that his acts of tragedy or rage
can be accounted for as he is healed.

The bitterest among us craves more joy
that lightest ones do carry close at hand,
still wants to be kept near the light’s envoy,
regardless if spontaneous or planned.

He knows the holes in psyches need repair:
Small sadness marks new onset of despair.


Small sadness marks new onset of despair;
this much is true, but cannot be the end.
What man is not made better should he care
to earn the trust of others he’d call friend?

A friend is life’s best way to raise our flags
up from a solitary half-mast woe—
the better, those accepting of our drags,
with gentle patience lending us their tow.

Two candles lit will ever surpass one,
though not create a harsh and flaming glare;
two candles lit make tabled comfort’s sun,
conjoin communion with their arcing flare.

Though dining may be short, I’d dine in style–
but if, with you, I’m happy for a while.


But if with you, I’m happy for a while
I do not feel the need to compromise;
the pleasures that I’ve taken stay the rile
I feel if other circumstance arise.

With you I learn the heart of laugh and sing,
the heat found in two clasping, closing hands,
the promise known to love, more than the ring,
that best of pairing couples understands.

Two swans are we who make our futures glide,
with ponds of our own making as our fate.
What care have we for what others decide,
if at our side we’ve found our lifelong mate?

When love leads to forever’s asked consent—
I have no call to say my life is spent.


I have no call to say my life is spent
outside of what most men would call divine–
if love grows weak, such travesty seems bent
to rip apart thin cloth once deemed too fine.

Dark shadows all, what’s seen when I feel weak,
consumed by misted wishes for the more.
A fool am I when hazarding the bleak
of apertures dense greed could lay in store.

There is no worse illusion than to think
another love, though distant, better suits,
much like a thief can, with ambition, sink
to arrogant re-robbing homes he loots.

Such waste of now rejects good fortune’s smile
in horror, though I’ve lingered there a while.


In horror, though I’ve lingered there a while,
accursed by misdirection in my blood,
been slave to indecision’s whippish bile,
let trickles of affection seem a flood.

I’ve fallen prey to fantasy’s dark lure,
and while in doing so lost good’s reply;
I’ve thought that such disease might be the cure
so faltered with my none too steady eye.

But, doing this, I nearly lost my gain,
much as flailing oration loses calm,
though only through true love would I reclaim
a stable passion used as saving balm.

For love was patient through those tears I spent.
Sometimes it is the fool who must relent.


Sometimes it is the fool who must relent
from disadvantaged stances to a rule.
My whorish heart seeks kindness gladly sent,
but bonds more strongly with self-ridicule.

Until one walks a mile in self-disdain,
sometimes one cannot know what most is true,
or make the sweet connection with a swain
whose shallow heart is empty or in lieu.

Those deeper things I’ve found with lasting care,
including warmer discourse, hearts aligned–
post-ransacking deep pockets for my share
to find inside one creature comfort, mine.

To stay fulfilled by loving is the key;
it’s those sad ones who must most joyful be.


It’s those sad ones who must most joyful be
for they have tasted deeply of despair–
they know the pain of lies from what they see,
regarding lives that fall to disrepair.

They see the way to soften flaws is hold
each large fault up to bright lights till it cracks,
yet be more gentle with each breaking fold
until a will for change informs one’s acts.

There is no perfect man who will not laugh,
or cry at how he’s tried to change his ways,
who knowing what he’s done, won’t then re-craft
some happy recompense for past delays.

This is the best two lovers can decree:
I’ll laugh for you—if you’ll but cherish me.


In laughter one can cure the restless mind.
Your smile can solve the pain of wretched days;
should memory bring to fore what’s left behind,
my joyful sound to recall joyful ways.

What better joy (than to escape from pain)?
We should forget what knowing can strip bare.
A person never free will oft complain,
small sadness marks new onset of despair.

But if, with you, I’m happy for a while,
I have no call to say my life is spent
in horror, though I’ve lingered there a while.
Sometimes it is the fool who must relent:

It’s those sad ones who must most joyful be—
I’ll laugh for you, if you’ll but cherish me.

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HEATHER FOWLER received her M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Hollins University in May of 1997.   She has taught composition, literature, and writing-related courses at UCSD, California State University at Stanislaus, and Modesto Junior College.  

Her poetry has recently appeared at riverbabble(June 2010); The Nervous Breakdown(May 2010); The San Diego Poetry Annual (April 2010); poeticdiversity (December 2009);The Medulla Review (Fall 2009); INTHEFRAY (February 2007), Empowerment4Women.com (November 2007), and been selected for a joint first place in the 2007 Faringdon Online Poetry Competition (October 2007) , as well as published in various venues including: the Map of Austin Poetry, The Coast Highway Review, the Driftwood Highway 1999 Anthology, Joe's Journal, Best of the Beach 1998, The Publication, and the Cityworks Literary Anthology, Volume 6. She is Poetry Editor at Corium Magazine.  

Her fiction has recently appeared at the following journals and anthologies: Necessary Fiction (January 18, 2011); JMWW (Winter 2011); Wrong Tree Review (January 2011);The Northville Review (December 2010); Ducts (Issue 26, Winter 2011); Prick of the Spindle (Issue 4.3, Fall 2010); Up the Staircase (Spring 2010); Dark Sky Magazine (Featuring Mel Bosworth reading her micro-fiction on video, May 2010); Necessary Fiction (April 2010); Portland Review (Issue 56, Volume 3, Winter/Spring 2010); Back in 5 Minutes ~ an expression of depression (print, volume 1. Little Episodes, London. February 2010, UK.) ; the stark electric space…an international anthology of indie writers (print, Graffiti Kolkata, India. Winter 2010); The Big Toe Review (Winter 2010); BlazeVOX (2k9, Fall 2009); Emprise Review (Volume 11, November 2009); Surreal South 09( print, Press 53, November 2009); DOGZPLOT (Fall 2009); decomP (August 2009); JMWW (print anth. Spring 2010, web Summer 2009); Etchings (7, ilura press, July 2009); PANK Magazine(4.6, June 2009); Night Train (Issue 9.1, Spring 2009); The Abacot Journal (Spring 2009);Underground Voices (November 2008); A Cappella Zoo (Print: October 2008, Volume I, Online Reprint June 2009). KeyHole (August 2008); Trespass (August/September 2008, UK); SubLit (August 2008); Coming Together: With Pride (Phaze, 2008, e-book and print);Word Riot (May 2008);  Storyglossia #28 (May 2008); Cityworks 2008 (May 2008);DOGZPLOT FLASH FICTION (2008, online and print); Temenos (Fall 2007)Mississippi Review online (October 2007); See You Next Tuesday (2006);and  Frigg: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry (Winter 2006)the muse apprentice guild (October 2002), artisan, a journal of craft (September 2002), Literary PotPourri (May 2002), Exquisite Corpse (Summer 2001), The Barcelona Review (May, 2001), Quercus Review (May, 2001), Penumbra (May 2001), B & A New Fiction (Jan. 2001), Barbaric Yawp (Dec. 2000), Zoetrope All-Story Extra (June 2001October and December 1999). She worked as a Guest Editor for Zoetrope All-Story Extra in March and April of 2000. Her story "Slut" won third prize at the 2000 California Writer's Conference in Monterey.

9 responses to “The Love, Laughter, Cherish Crown”

  1. Heather is a remarkable writer. Every time I read her writing, I am astounded by its subtlety and power. This is no exception here. What a tremendous opus this series of sonnets is. There are few who can come close this level of work and I’m so glad to find her being recognized here.

  2. […] The Nervous Breakdown thenervousbreakdown.com/hfowler/2011/01/the-love-laughter-cherish-crown/ – view page – cached A heroic sonnet crown to contemplate the heroic journey of a lasting love., A heroic sonnet crown to contemplate the heroic journey of a lasting love. […]

  3. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Stephan, yes indeed. Don’t miss the other poem of hers we’ve published, A Woman in Her Bath.

  4. Jessica Blau says:


  5. Jessica! So glad you stopped by! Thanks so much for reading. 🙂 xoxo

  6. Great writing in here, Heather. This is my favorite stanza:

    In horror, though I’ve lingered there a while,
    accursed by misdirection in my blood,
    been slave to indecision’s whippish bile,
    let trickles of affection seem a flood.

  7. Thanks so much, Sean. 🙂 I think I mentioned this, but I love your website. Can’t wait to take in some of your work. xo

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