My hope was that I was going to be able to use this sonnet form to write a pen portrait of a man, possibly homeless, who during the winter ambles a ratty old bicycle down the avenues near where I work, dispersing bird seed to the fowl. He trundles along with a 5 gallon, neon orange bucket hanging from a handlebar. At various vacant lots, some of which are fenced in, he stops on the sidewalk and lobs great big handfuls of seed out across the gravel or asphalt. As he approaches one of the feeding places, the sky darkens with winged creatures, which land in a whirl of calls and flapping feathers. They are so used to this man that they let the birdseed fall directly upon them, bouncing from wing, beak and back.
I know nothing about this “bird man,” as I’ve come to think of him, save for the image of his moving among the streets in the dim light of dawn, arcing fistfuls of seed over his head and chest. His face is a mass of unkempt hair, his snow jacket old and held together with duct tape. His clothes are layered in tatters and crusted with dirt and debris. Yet for all his apparent misfortune, he has made it his mission to by some means acquire this seed and feed the cities winged residents during the winter.
After a few weeks of trying to get the imagery in mind to bend to this sonnet form, I finally decided to give up and let the words and images find themselves. Sometimes the only way a poem gets written is to let go of the originating idea, allowing the words to choose and arrange themselves. Under such circumstances, the poet merely facilitates a process that was somehow already occurring, already waiting disembodied in the ether to find a channel into existence.
The mourning dove lifts pale, majestic wings,
illuminating vacant, asphalt grounds.
A shadow moves amid the murmurings
of feathered creatures stirring all around
him as unsteadily he trundles down
the frozen sidewalks with an orange pail
suspended from a handlebar; the sound
of squeaking tires mingles with a gale
of pigeons, sparrows, jays that dance like hail
across a gravel, weed-strewn parking lot.
He stops and probes the neon depths to bail
a scoop of birdseed—harmless scattershot—
which, reaching back, he arcs above his head
to bounce among the birds with even spread.
This is my 2nd Spenserian sonnet. It was my intention to strictly adhere to the rhyme scheme for this second pass at the form, but the word pool was just too small for the b scheme, so I kept extending it until enough words became available to allow for a fairly natural flow of language and imagery. Still a partial rhyme by all accounts, since all four words share the “oun” phonemes.