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Landmark in Sonnets

Do you have Landmark poems you wrote and stashed away?  Why not share them?  Send them to me,, and let’s make an anthology!  Here are some of mine, which I hope you’ll enjoy.

All of us read sonnets in high school!   If you don’t recall, a sonnet has 14 lines, often rhymed, with the first section of 8 lines, and the last section of  6 lines, which shifts the thought in a different direction.  This shift of thought, to me, is the perfect way to express transformation! 

Conversations fade away.  But a poem, written down,  sticks around a little longer and reaches more people (if they are really willing to read slowly and experience the words).  I jumped at the chance to share with Team Management and Leadership Program my sonnets because they are my vivid share!  And to hide them is to hide my contribution.  

If you’d like to share your poetry, let’s make it a game in the world!                                                                            –John Godbey T1Q1, Team Dallas

*          *          *          *

(When I did the Landmark Forum with Larry Pearson in New York City in 2010, I was literally reduced to blubbering tears in front of maybe 200 people.  It was so powerful, I didn’t care at all what people might think…)


for Larry Pearson

As I leap like a rainbow across the horizon
Shoot like a comet to orbit the moon
Burst like a blossom ecstatic with sunlight
Cry like a baby fresh out of the womb,
I have no experience dealing with feelings
No previous memories to use as a test
No language to distance the fixed from the fleeting
No words to distinguish the worst from the best.
And all I can say of this turn of events
Is that no one now says anything that will matter!
Whatever you choose from the table of contents
Will surely dissolve into nonsense and chatter.
In three days, the story we claim as our lives
Can vanish in back of our very own eyes!

*          *          *          *

(My experience of the Advanced Course led me to explore the darker side of myself, the things I could not forgive myself for having done. )


Excuses hide in every phrase
I cannot face my public shame
Nor accept the slightest praise
Without protesting I’m to blame.
So what is strength but being
Present to my old humiliation,
Open to my most demeaning
Scene of stinging desperation?
Owning up is harder than
Plucking out an eye would be,
Admitting I’m the sham I am
With all my friends around to see.
(Revealing this and moving on
Is what I yearned for all along.)

*          *          *          *

(For me, the Self-Expression and Leadership Program taught the perspective of what a person can contribute, once that person has given up stories of who they are.  I read this sonnet to my class, shaking with emotion, because I realized the enormity of what Landmark has set out to accomplish in the world.)

 Why We Came

We didn’t come here
To transact our business
To transmit our opinions
To transcribe our thoughts
To transition our habits
To translate our feelings
To transfer our fears
Or transplant our love.
Instead, we came here
Transported by our joy,
To be transfixed by clarity
To transcend our understanding
To transform who we’re being
And to transfigure the world.

*          *          *          *

(At some point I realized that the way I perceived the world had fallen apart: I was no longer my story, and so my judgments of good and bad were utterly USELESS.  There was no “should.”  Each moment was as perfect as cut crystal. When we are our Life, we are story.  When we are Living, we are mystery; we are unpredictable–we are here, now!  When you see that it is all perfect just as it is, all you can do is laugh!  (In this sonnet, I imagined Life as a man, and Living as a woman–just because I think girls are cool.))

Living Can’t Wait

Living does not know what it is to wait,
Needs no map or clock to tell where or when
Yet has never arrived early or late:
She likes to occupy the skin she’s in.
She cares about people, not what they think
She doesn’t listen to their can’ts and won’ts.
If they blow up at her she doesn’t blink:
She floats above taboos of do’s and don’ts.
And if they do, or don’t, it’s all the same
It’s perfect because that’s the way it is.
Yes, play to win, but play to play the game:
There’s not a moment Living wants to miss.
A breakdown fully witnessed is a breakthrough
And Living always makes that clear to you.

*          *          *          *

(It was in the Advanced Course that I got that I had made up the sum total of my reaction to life at an age that I could not have possibly understood what was really going on!  Children are so damn earnest!  We offer ourselves explanations for everything (just as we continue to do as adults) but we have so little experience that the distortions of our understanding are wild, incredible, shocking!  When I got present to what idiotic thinking I was capable of, I got “off it.”  I was not capable of listening ANYONE!  All I heard were my fears, my old answers….and I thought I was an adult!)

A Talking To

Of course I talk to myself! Everything I know today is thanks to what I told myself about things I didn’t understand.           –Gracie Allen, comedienne, 1930-1950’s.

I made my mind up long ago:
And that’s the way things are! How clever!
By saying so-and-so was so
So-and-so was so, forever.
Whatever people say, I mangle
Into meaning what I fear,
Never thinking to untangle
What they said from what I hear!
When I was only five or six
I did the best I could to “get” it–
Of the puzzle, I found one piece
And made the others up to fit it.
(No wonder now I sound so dense
When I think I’m making sense!)

*          *          *          *

When I saw that Landmark gave me the keys to existing in the present moment, I saw that my Life had ended and my Living had begun. Yeah, I have to be patient, and keep my word, be accountable, and be on time, but underneath it, I’m diggin’ this moment, which is unlike any other…

To Do List

  • Arrive where I never left.
  • See with eyes that never saw.
  • Get the pretense off my chest.
  • Accept nothing less than Awe.
  • Attend each person as key.
  • Enroll them in their own dream.
  • Seek out what they want to Be
  • Then listen them as that thing.
  • Give my word and make it stand.
  • Set unreasonable goals.
  • Show up on the court as planned.
  • Be present to what unfolds.

(Everything that I declare
Happens more when I’m aware.)

*          *          *          *

(I forget when it was it dawned on me that Truth does not exist.  “What is so” is basically unknowable to any individual Point of View.  So, no matter how much we insist, our words imperfectly represent facts!  They always include our bias.  This sonnet tells why Poetry is important.  Maybe in a thousand years, we won’t need words.  But Words transformed humanity and made us different from the animals.  If technology transforms the need for words someday, I think the world will be the poorer, because, though I acknowledge the power of words for evil, I think  they give us a tool to reach toward higher ground.)


Human beings, swaddled from birth in words,
Believe Truth exists between words and things,
That when we see bluebirds in our mirrors
Our mirrors have grown a pair of blue wings!
Language was the computer of cave men,
They learned to stare all day at its screen,
The stories they told became real to them,
Only a few understood the machine.
So poets were programmers for their age!
They wrote their OS on our DNA
And the platform they wrote becomes the cage
From which we struggle to escape today.
Beware the words that tell your brain they’re true:
They imprison Truth. They imprison you.

*          *          *          *

(Direct Access was a revelation of major proportions because it made clear to me how much of who we are as human beings is determined by the neurology of our brains.  And whether we are spiritual or physical beings, we are limited in our experience by physiology.  We literally talk in metaphors and in mythical organs day in and day out, and everyone thinks we are talking about something that exists.  Bummer!  It doesn’t.  It’s the mythology that persists into the 21st Century because we don’t have the words to frame reality more accurately. )

Mind Metaphors

“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart.
It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.” –Judy Garland

I speak of “in my heart,” or “in my mind,”
“In my imagination,” “in my soul,”
As if these were organs I could find
With files and functions under my control.
My “conscience” here, my “memory” over there,
My “feelings” and my “dreams” all strewn about.
My “integrity” could be anywhere,
Unless the cleaning lady threw it out.
Such words are nothing but mythology
That I’ve accepted whole without remorse
I could choose my terms from astrology
But then you’d think I lost my mind of course.
I’ve no clue what goes on inside my head,
I borrow words like these instead.

*          *          *          *

(In SELP it occurred to me that I had no identity.  If I looked within myself and asked who I was, I was everybody, and nobody!  Yet, other people looked at me and said, “There’s John Godbey!”  Don’t you think this is remarkable?  The next two sonnets delve into the strange condition we find ourselves in when we are human. )


There’s no intrinsic “I” inside me.
No way I am that specifies me.
No adjectives that can define me.
No test by which you could derive me.
True, I have a voice and appearance
That anyone could experience
And quickly have greater assurance
Than I have, of my inner essence.
This is a great mystery of life!
How can what is intimately mine
Be so elusive that it can hide
From me, what others so quickly find?
Of course, others see only the purse
In which I carry the universe.


So if I am the universe
I’ll look into my soul to see
The galaxies that intersperse
The emptiness inside of me.
And there I’ll feel the space winds blow
Let comets set on fire my hair
Watch planets orbit in a race
To see which one the sun will snare.
But when I close my coin purse tight
I’m here again at home with friends
We’ll drink our ale and joke all night
Until guests leave and party ends
And then I’ll step out on the lawn
To watch my universe race on.

*          *          *           *

(John Godbey, author of these sonnets, would like to know if you read  and enjoyed them.  If so, please send an e-mail to

Author: John Godbey


John is a participant in Landmark’s Team, Management, and Leadership Program and lives in Dallas, Texas, where he is a Realtor helping school teachers by homes. He has been a writer for many decades and prefers writing sonnets as snapshots of an idea in motion. For the 29th year, John will entertain 400 kindergarten kids for an hour a day during the month of June. John dresses as the “Pied Piper” and teaches the songs he wrote to build the children’s English skills. His own 5 children are either musicians or equestrians. He can help with music. Thank god Texas has horses!

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