A Gypsy and her Hawk


A year or so ago, I purchased a book on practicing writing poetry. It appealed to me because it was not just a book telling you about poetry and the different kinds or styles of poetry; but each page was an exercise or assignment. In January I decided I was going to work on this book this year.

What a challenge it has been!

I like the freedom of writing off the top of my head; as I’m sure most writers do. So having to follow specific instructions; like using certain words, a specific topic, a rhyming pattern or worse yet NO rhyming pattern………..has proved to be difficult for me. And if the exercise combined a couple of those specifics; well it makes my head spin.

Some of the exercises are very specific. One of the first ones was this………………..

In your travels write about a billboard you saw. What did it say, what did you think, how did you feel? Be descriptive.

Wellllll, what does that have to do with poetry? This was not writing a poem.

The writers intent was to practice using descriptive wording as related to the senses in relation to an inanimate object.

Make sense??

My billboard said, “R U Chubby?”

Oh, boy!!

My attempt was not very good; but I did it.

Not really worthy of sharing; but I might at a later date.

Another exercise was a poem; style and pattern of your choice (this I could do!) BUT………………

it had to use these 5 specific words; blackberry, clouds, mother, cliff and voice. It also had to have a well known phrase of your choice. No specific order.

Uh, Oh!!

Oh my, what have I gotten myself into?

Of course I could close the book and put it away at anytime…………….but I didn’t.

My phrase (I had just heard that morning), “write it down and stick it on the fridge”, I actually think I heard it in a country music song and it stuck with me.

My poem was not very good; but I did it.

But the most challenging exercise thus far; I completed last night.

It was a poem…………….a very specific poem. The instructions went like this…………………..

You’re on a journey to an unknown destination. You begin your journey in a predicament and are forced into a situation against your will. The poem has to end at the end of your journey. It has to be 70 to 75 lines long in a consistent informal rhyming pattern of 5 or 6 line stanzas with 6 to 8 words per line.

Ohhhh…………..Mmmmm……………Geeeeee!!!!! (You try it!!)

I almost turned the page and skipped the exercise all together. But I didn’t. The writer suggested it may take several days to complete this exercise.

It took me several weeks!!

I write about “real life”. So to write about “make believe” in such a certain, specific way was a little unnerving for me.

This was my scheme…………….

75 lines, 5 line per stanza with 6 to 8 words per line, with a rhyming pattern of (abacc)………..meaning (for those of you that don’t know), the first and third lines rhyme and the fourth and fifth lines rhyme.

My poem story; by far, is not my best. BUT…………………I followed all the specific requirements and for that I am proud. Normally it wouldn’t be something I’d share; it made me go against my writing grain and outa my comfort zone. Something I don’t do very easily.

All in all………………I did it. Here it is………

“A Gypsy and her Hawk”

The water drips softly on the wooden deck

I see it’s streaks on the window pane

my faithful hawk sits atop this wreck.

He watches closely for friend or foe

how he’d know the difference, I wouldn’t know

We’re calmly rolling on the storm whipped sea

a most pleasant change from the night before

I remember my cries, “This just can’t be!”

My beautiful ocean was dark with anger

there was no land, my ship was in danger!

Tossed and turned, the sails ripped to shreds

shards of sparkling glass from my compass

lay like precious diamonds next to my bed.

Searching my window I don’t see the sun

which way are we going, what have we done?

I feel the nights rain beneath my feet

as my hair whispers around my face

silently my skirt billows in the ocean breeze.

Searching the horizon looking for the shore;

anxiously I wonder what nature has in store.

My hawk is looking closely, left and right

watching my feathered, majestic prince I wonder

“Does my protector see any land in sight?”

We’re not beastly pirates on the open sea

just a gypsy and her hawk sailing free.

No time to feel sorry about our plight

there’s much that needs to be repaired

I watch my prince take off in flight.

I hope he finds a sandy shore

a safe place our ship we can moor.

I gather what’s left of my tattered sail

needle and thread there’s mending to do

no fixing the mast with hammer and nail.

Splintered and twisted, it no longer stands

How can I work with these childish hands?

The mercury rises with the round bright sun

I swiftly stitch with my nimble fingers

it must be complete before the days done.

Lowly, thieving pirates, sneak aboard after dark

the stories say, they’ll take out your heart.

Watching the skies for my princely mate

he’s been away for many countless hours

I anxiously wait as it’s getting late.

He would never leave me out here alone

I know he’s searching for help and home.

Bright skies fade as the sun slowly sinks

sitting quietly dark fear rests on me

waiting for the moon and stars to wink.

Light a path on the clear blue ocean

alone I rock to my ships slow motion.

In the near distance my eyes they see

a high waving flag atop a ship

it’s course of sail directed at me.

My mind racing; is it friend or foe

the lights fading how would I ever know?

Then I see in the night red sky

my faithful, feathered, proud flying friend

He’s soaring strong and steady way up high.

Leading that ship to his gypsy love

guiding it only by the silvery moon above.

Running quickly I set my torch on fire

the evening sky quickly turning black

my faithful friend searched never ever growing tired.

My torch raised; all the world can see

blazing skies will lead my friend to me.

I hear a voice from in the dark

“Ahoy sweet matey; permission to board ye ship.”

Landing softly is the hawk that has my heart.

“Permission granted, yes come aboard please.”

“My dear, your friend lead us to thee.”

Standing watch, he looks from side to side

they hoist the mast with my mended sail

I raise my flag to fly up high.

I wave goodbye as he watches over me

just a gypsy and her hawk sailing free.

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