Best Poems

A Selection of Katharine L. Sparrow's Best Poems

All poems are copyright © Katharine L. Sparrow, all rights reserved

(Spenserian Sonnet)

September days are ebbing like the tide.
October's brilliant colors wash ashore,
as water fowl in silence dip and glide,
and on the chilling breezes seagulls soar.
With summer's end they're seeking something more—
a promise made to savor through the frost—
remembrance of the days that shone before
the winter's barren chill, when all is lost.
And yet the dead of winter spells the cost
of reveling in summer's brilliant glow.
October's seagull, buffeted and tossed,
with autumn's winds has yet to brave the snow.

For those who fly through winter's harshest test
hold summer's sun within their feathered breast.

For the Love of Trees

I'm waiting for the stately beech,
the giant elm, the maple, each
asleep and dreaming of the dawn
of gentle spring to rain upon
their bony branches, reaching, bare,
to catch the warming sunshine there.
I'm hoping for the graceful larch,
the spreading ash to form an arch
of shaded green where I may rest
from summer's heat, in coolness blessed—
for cherry blossoms, drifting down,
to dress my head with petaled crown.
I know the oak and birch will soon
spread soothing leaf o'er heat of noon,
where in my hammock I shall swing
beneath their boughs, and wren shall sing
a lullaby to comfort me—
I wait for each beloved tree.

Some Dance

The first time Daddy let go of my two-wheeler,
sending me careening down the street, 
hair flying like a victory banner—
that's how it was, 
this hatching of a dream.
Stage lights
make the audience impossible to see,
but I could hear them,
softly clucking
like a flock of chickens settling on their nests
for the night—
a sound of anticipation,
of waiting,
for me.
Some dream of dancing.
Others make lavish plans,
like building skyscrapers
or becoming an astronaut.
My dreams were all on the stage,
my wishes typed out in scripts.
The backdrop was
the setting of all my hopes,
the curtain separating
the scenes of my future.
So, did I become a famous actress?
Somehow the script got lost,
and the curtain closed on that scene.
The backdrop of my life 
became something
I could not then have imagined.
But now—
now I find that scripts
are not so difficult to alter,
if a plot needs changing—
and the final curtain
need not drop 
on the dream of a fifteen-year-old girl.
Perhaps I will be, once again,
breathless, back stage,
listening to the rustling
of the audience.
Perhaps this, here and now,
is only 

A Lover's Rose
(English Sonnet)

How sweet the sound of my own lover's voice!—
he speaks to me of honeyed blossoms where,
in tangled gardens, vine and rose rejoice,
entwining both the spires and petals there.
How soft the dew of my own lover's kiss!—
anointing neck and trailing over breast.
His lips of velvet speak to me of bliss,
without a sound, as tongue to flesh is pressed.
How gently glides his touch where hands are laid!—
a feather first and then a firm caress;
my body, in his hands, a goddess made,
each swell and curve, my lover's to possess.

At last my love and I, a twisting vine,
wrap 'round where thorn and blooming rose combine.

Madeline Moore

(Poem for Children)

Madeline Moore, who just turned four,
says that four is much better than three.
Madeline Moore (though I'm not keeping score),
is still two years younger than me.

Madeline said that she'll not go to bed
one minute sooner than eight.
I said that bed should be seven instead,
and that started off a debate.

Madeline Moore said, now that she's four,
eight o'clock is what it should be.
I told her eight is really quite late
for someone not much more than three.

Madeline Moore kicked and screamed on the floor
and hollered out loud to high heaven.
Her mother then said that she must go to bed
as early as quarter to seven.

Now Madeline knows just how bed time goes
when she hollers and screams and kicks-
and it's only right she went early that night,
for she's still two years younger than six.

Madeline Moore, who just turned four
goes to bed at seven fifteen-
unless, like before, she screams on the floor
and causes a horrible scene.

I go at eight, which isn't too late
for someone who's three plus three.
She's only four (and I'll never keep score),
but that's still two years younger than me.

The Genius of Mozart
(English Sonnet)

From where did Mozart draw his melodies?
What chortling fountain splashed for him a tune?
Were soft notes borne aloft on summer's breeze,
while loving Stanzi, of an afternoon?

For surely something jangled through his world—
a constant stream of sound that he could hear.
And all about him, peals of wind chimes swirled,
arranging sweet refrains within his ear.

One wonders if the world still holds his gift
on outstretched palm for each of us to take—
if near around us, strains of music drift,
for each a different melody to make.

Perhaps the genius lay in Mozart's will
to hear the song, when all for us is still.

Winner of the Bruce Dawe prize for best sonnet in Prism: May 2014:

The Visitor

All summer long the feeder hung—
its visitors a timid lot.
I listened to their calling, sung
through languid days, sultry and hot.
And then I left a little trail,
each day more seed, closer to me.
I did not know if I'd prevail,
or if my hands would ever be
a place of trust, a soft embrace—
if you would pause a moment there
to share with me a breath of grace,
a fleeting joy, a wordless prayer.

Today I sat so still and calm...
your feathered heartbeat in my palm.

*This poem won "best sonnet" in a Prism anthology, as judged by Bruce Dawe, influential Australian poet and former Poet Laureate of Australia.


has not eluded me—
it has pursued me.
It has stalked and surveilled me.
Love has hunted me down
and assailed me.

I have turned, back to the wall,
eyes wide with surprise.
I have seen love, bones and all,
bared of its dull disguise.

And now I know
how it will go.
Love does not sidle up,
pink posies in hand,
but ruptures the fabric of life
with a firing brand—
searing forever its singular name
upon the unsuspecting
by flame.


A mind that can conceive a thing of intense beauty...
a painting on a ceiling that speaks the language of God,
the majesty of a cathedral, its spires of leaden lace,
a symphony that seems plucked from the harps of angels...
is singularly inept
when reaching for one elusive concept...
a place devoid of sight and sound-
the utter emptiness,
the hollow murk of a vacuous shadowed hall
that lives on the edges of one's vision, 
never quite able to be seen
nor described
nor even conjured for a single moment
in the imagination.
Even in death,
when dust returns to dust,
the wind that sighs and scatters
denies the soul what cannot be grasped.
Perhaps the non-existent does not exist...
and nothing is simply
not there 
at all.

In Woodlands

In woodlands deep, where ivy grows
and mossy-scented sunlight glows,
among the leafy vines, asleep
and waiting for the melting snows
the forest sprites and fairies keep—
where ivy grows, in woodlands deep.
In spring they wake. They stretch and yawn,
as frigid night gives way to dawn
and swirling mists up from the lake
are whispering that winter's gone.
As sleepy dust from eyes they shake,
they stretch and yawn. In spring they wake.
Where dust is shed on forest's floor
are flakes of magic, stuff of lore,
for where the fairy dust is spread,
a flower grows from every spore.
And there appears a violet bed
on forest's floor, where dust is shed.
In woodlands green, upon the ground
where purple violets can be found,
while sprites and fairies can't be seen,
it's known they live in trees around
the springtime forest's misty sheen—
upon the ground, in woodlands green.

Starry Night

The village lies in silken sleep
as darkness folds around it, deep
and rippling like a mill pond's veil
reflecting moonlight, cold and pale.
The dreamers stir and turn in bed
as vivid tales are wound like thread
against a dark and empty scene
where swirling mists roll in between.
The village slumbers, safe within,
oblivious to stars that spin
above, where for a billion years
they've soared along majestic spheres;
and moonlight spills through spangled space,
anointing earth upon its face
while dreamers drift behind their eyes
and spurn the grandeur of the skies.

Little Bird

I found a little bird who'd died
upon the walkway, just outside.
He lay there, very stiff and still,
with empty eyes and silent bill.
I crouched beside him, wondering,
and heard a distant thundering—
a dull salute to little bird
a rumbling grief, a final word.
And as the drops began to fall
and splash against the garden wall
I gathered up the tiny soul
and took him to a shaded knoll.
I buried him beneath the tree
where once he sang, alive and free,
then stood and walked back in the rain,
reflecting about joy and pain.
I can't explain the tears I shed,
what anguished thoughts remained unsaid—
but something soft inside me stirred
with sorrow for a little bird.

Concurring with Millay

Spring hangs
like a dripping woolen coat
from the pewter frame 
of a glowering sky.
Why is it that poets write of spring
as if it were made 
of rose petals and birdsong?—
and insist that spring is when 'true love' blooms?
There are no flowers, no birds, no eager lovers
with this horrid impostor, this con of a season.
Here by me, 
on my windswept, narrow land,
I know well how it goes—
spring holds winter's slushy hand,
and the two of them laugh heartily at us,
flinging their icy spittle
in our faces.

The Store

(painting by Mary O.Smith)

I stand now, waiting,
shafts of sunlit haze ease over into evening.
Ragged curtains flutter from vacant window frames
like tattered flags of surrender.
But, oh! I have seen better days!—
back when the old main road ran by here, 
before the highway went in.
Lot of business in those days—
when folks would come by to get two pounds of sugar 
and an earful of gossip.
Those tall tales whisper through my hollow rooms,
tittering along the empty shelves.
No more scandals— all who lived them are gone, 
their once colorful escapades
having faded to grays and browns and peeling white paint.
I hear someone's bought the land,
gonna pave it over, build a health club.
Instead of farmer jeans and housewives in aprons—
sleek-clad bodies, bronzed and toned,
the bonk-bonk of tennis balls,
the smell of sweat
displacing the blended scent of cinnamon and shoe leather.
Yes, I will surrender—
when tomorrow's hazy sunlight seeps over my sagging roof.
I stand now,