Rooks rooting in the wet soil,
one rook, and another, and another,
all across the field, moving,
not military, no, more like
a mob of mates, meandering
not marching. Rooks roost
in the ash trees at the top
of the long meadow. Rooks rise
whirlwinding into the grey air,
I don’t know why. I never see
what triggers it, I only know
they rise, they circle, they spread out,
not tied together like the starlings,
not in a sharp-carved V
like the wild geese,
but just a rambling, rolling, riffraff rabble
of black wings, feathers splayed.
Bjorn is hosting MTB night at dVerse. He’s looking for assonance, consonance and alliteration. All of those things are hard to avoid, I think, but sometimes it’s good to do something consciously, like concentrating on your forehand.
Hard to feel alone
when you live near rooks -
observed as you leave the house,
walk up the lane,
take in the washing;
watched as you weed
or call the kids in
from the field
behind the house.
They must know
the pattern of our days,
our noisy neighbours -
must mention to each other
that we are busy now,
chatting by the car.
They know our hours,
know when we head home,
stream in, gather
from school and work,
from walking the beach,
they must see
the pathways we carve
in the air around us.
Suddenly they rise:
we heard no signal,
but they know to go up
and turn – a maelstrom
of black wings
and guttural croaks,
for no reason
we can see,
except the delight
and the last sight of sun.
It’s quadrille night at dVerse, De is hosting, and our word is “up”.
I watched a crowd of rooks fly by –
“They’re on the search for food”, I said –
black cut-outs on a paper sky,
we see them, and we think of death.
“They’re on the search for food”, I said,
a cheerful democratic crew,
we see them, and we think of death;
they make me think of people, too.
A cheerful democratic crew,
leaders and stragglers make their way –
they make me think of people, too,
out shopping on a winter’s day.
Leaders and stragglers make their way,
black cut-outs on a paper sky.
Out shopping on a winter’s day,
I watched a crowd of rooks fly by.
Gina is hosting at dVerse tonight, and we continue our exploration of forms. Gina brings us the pantoum – she’s given a really good description of it, if you want to read more. Basically it’s a series of interlocking, repeating couplets.
If you are an avid reader, you might notice that I have taken the start of this from my rubaiyat of a couple of weeks ago. I thought it would be interesting to contrast the forms directly. You can read it here https://fmmewritespoems.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/winter-rooks-rubaiyat-for-dverse/
I watch a crowd of rooks go by –
black cut-outs on a paper sky –
“They’re looking out for food”, I say.
They’re waiting for something to die.
We feed the pretty garden crew;
the blue tit and the blackbird, too,
but rooks are harbingers of death,
and no-one wants to give them food.
But me, I like their clever eyes,
head cocked, to keep you in their sight,
their feathers – scattered midnight flakes –
their casual, skilful, human flight.
This is my first offering for the dVerse form exploration this month. Frank introduces the rubaiyat – most famous in the western world for the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam – lushly decadently romantic stuff. I hadn’t realised Robert Frost had played with the form too.
What I found last month, with the sonnet, was that my first offering was quite tum-ti-tum, but it got the feel of the form into my head, and once that was there things got deeper and richer. I had to work on the structure becoming part of my thought process, and then I could work with it more naturally. I’ll be interested to see if that happens again this month.
As usual, all (constructive?) criticism is welcome. That’s how I grow.
And do go over to dVerse and see what’s happening. A huge range of poets, from beginners to old lags, a huge variety of style, and lots of talent.
Also, I just discovered that “rooks” is one of my tags. I know I have a slight obsession with them, but even so…
The birds have built their nests, and are waiting for their eggs to hatch. It’s a moment of pause for them – soon they’ll be spending their time feeding, feeding, feeding, because nestlings are hungry and need constant attention. They won’t have time to watch the bluebells going over, and the blossom falling. They won’t notice spring turning into summer. They’ll be interested in food and predators – their world view narrowed down to the basics of survival. Their young will keep them busy until the moment the fledgelings make their first stuttering flight. It won’t be long then, until the young birds fly away to make their own lives, and become rivals for territory.
The rooks are different. They welcome their children into the tribe – the more the merrier. Their nests are spreading through the ash trees, an aerial housing development, with penthouse views, and excellent, if noisy, neighbours.
waiting for eggs to hatch
blossom falling, spring turning
flight through the ash trees
An erasure haibun for Xenia Tran, who is guest hosting at the dVerse poets’ pub tonight. She asks us to write a haibun that alludes to compassion or self-sacrifice, without naming it directly.
Starlings form one being,
that moves and spins, each bird
part of the whole. Rooks,
on the other hand,
travel as a company
of individuals. I’ve watched them,
loosely linked, peeling off singly
or in pairs, coming together
for food, or fighting.
They are a company of swords,
the mercenaries of the skies,
choosing their companions,
committing fresh each day.
For Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt. I have a minor rook obsession. It might show.
‘Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting heaven’
Rooks gather in the evening
when their shapes are black
shadows against a silver sky.
They have their places –
the high branches of the ash,
the roof ridge – high places
where they can watch the winter
world: brown fields, dull hedges,
the bones of the earth laid bare.
They come in at sunset,
black hands splayed against
red gold burning light,
and one will call out,
leaning into the cry,
and one will rise up,
find a new position,
leaving the topmost twigs
moving, as if a wind had been there.
Another inspirational quote from W B Yeats, curated by Jane Dougherty for her November with Yeats challenge. We have lots of rooks around us. I’ve written about them before – good to see I’m in such exalted company!
This old bitch earth
is still holding out on us –
and yet you sky dance
sozzled. Three sheets,
two wings, one black beak,
giving it all to the wind.
I think you’re whiskey
sipping death, taking it neat,
straight up. What else is there?
Carrion on the rocks,
roadkill chaser. I see you
hanging round the edges,
I’m not blaming you.
I’m just reminding me
that my sky tumblers
are resourceful. Always there
for the last call.