Looking at Crows and Sparrows in the Snow

As a forward to this massive poem, if you are faint of heart stop reading now. This poem is dark and cold and grim. It is sort of how it sometimes is in life. You go about your life while death and destruction occurs right under your nose. You are not only oblivious but you take the debris from the tragedy and appropriate it for your own benefit. It is not malice. There is no intent to disrespect the survivors or dishonor the dead. The situations just don’t touch your life. You have no knowledge of the events. If someone is unaware don’t berate them or become angry with them. How about instead educate, inform and solicit sympathy. Most folks just need to know what’s going on to be able to care. (well at least in Indiana)

Moonlight silhouette of the crow
While sleeps morning’s sparrow
Blanketed in new fallen snow
Piled on her head an icy chapeau
Moon casts exaggerated shadows below
Huddled cold in the bare ginkgo
While the night breathes shallow
And the dark one flies solo

The wolf howls a long note solo
The cry harsh answers from the crow
Surveying a new grave dug shallow
Unaware sleeps the sparrow
The only marker the old ginkgo
And fading footprints in deepening snow
Temperatures keep dropping zero and below
For the frozen heart there is no warm chapeau

At first light morning doffs her chapeau
Sends pink light to rouse the singer solo
Who drops sweet notes on the ground below
Until the warmth awakens the crow
Who stomps around in the snow
That with the warmth of sun is shallow
And exposes the roots and base of the ginkgo
Chasing away the hungry sparrow

The unconcerned sparrow
Sees only a soiled discarded chapeau
Tossed a pace from the base of the ginkgo
And a black glove on the ground solo
The finger pointing to a new grave shallow
Unmoved by the unknown buried below
But plucks a ribbon from the snow
Flies off pursued by the crow

A nest the sparrow builds shallow
Lined with chapeau remnants scavenged below
From the ginkgo grave covered in snow
Sentry watching solo the only witness the crow

OK. So this is the last poem for National Poetry Month and the last challenge to be completed. This challenge was to write a poem using the words crow, sparrow, snow, chapeau, below, ginkgo, shallow and solo. As a penance during Lent (yes I know Lent is over but this one took me a long time) I decided to wrestle with one of my least favorite forms – the sestina. Now before you go all sideways on me let me explain what has happened in the poem above. First off the sestina is a seemingly easy form where you have 6 words that form the terminus of the lines in each stanza (6 stanzas of 6 lines) followed by an envoi (3 lines) using 2 words of the previous terminal words per line. So far it doesn’t sound too complicated but you are sadly mistaken! The order of the words in each stanza is a special kind of crazy. I’d try to explain but I’m not going to be responsible for anyone’s head exploding. Suffice to say the order is as follows (if you are a math whiz and want to figure it out go right ahead):

Anyway I wanted to torture myself a little. I decided to use the 8 words in the prompt (which happen to all rhyme) to write an eight line sestina (which is unofficially called an octina). Applying the matrix you end up with 4 stanzas of 8 lines which look like this:
There are only 4 stanzas because the next series in the sequence would be 12345678 which has already been done. The envoi is 4 lines instead of 3 and the words are: 2,7/4,5/6,3/8,1. When I was first introduced to the sestina it gave me such aggravation that I developed a literary stutter – that is I couldn’t write the word “sestina” without adding extra letters as in ssssessstina. I’ve gotten over that a little but as you can see I prefer to avoid the traditional form in favor of the octina!

26 thoughts on “Looking at Crows and Sparrows in the Snow

    1. I’m still going to post a few poems. I feel some poetry coming on (kind of like a cold) and I’ll just have to go with it! (gesundheit)… I’m thrilled you enjoyed this last month’s poetry extravaganza!


    1. Ha!It isn’t my invention – others have come before blazing the trail! I just had fun with it. I’m flattered that you think it amazing and thought provoking. Thanks for that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. I was puzzled by why the eight end words couldn’t be ordered eight different ways, but I followed the sestina’s pattern and arrived at the same conclusion you did. 🙂


        1. Yes. I had originally thought I’d be writing 8 lines/stanza with 8 stanzas… then I started mapping out the word order and discovered it was only 4 stanzas! I was very pleased!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Death comes for all of us – sometimes unexpectedly. If more people accepted that death is part of life I believe they could grieve well and recover from the loss. As it is there are many who cannot move past the loss and are in a perpetual state of grieving…


      1. It took me a while with my dad but that mostly because it was such a shock. If you see someone suffer with sickness or age its easier to let go than someone who gives you no hints time is ending.


        1. That is very true. I was lucky in that my father was ill for a long time. We had started grieving long before he passed. Not that it was easy but it wasn’t unexpected. So sorry you had no warning.


  1. This was wonderful! I had to re-read it to catch the key part I missed (fading footprints in the snow). My goal for today is to write an acrostic list poem about dogs in the style of Dr. Seuss. It might not happen, but I’m giving it a shot in between trying to get control of my living room and kitchen, doing laundry, and buying tickets to see End Game tonight.

    NPM is going to spill into May for me; I’m just too far behind to catch up by tomorrow. My version of Lent, I suppose. Does it make me holier than thou if I carry my cross longer?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe! If you carry it longer it just means you started later… I think that doesn’t make you holier just more tired… As you can see I’ve not been on WP since before the garage sale. i’m back from Muncie and trying to catch up before the mayhem of graduation tomorrow!


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