A Selection of a few of Katharine L. Sparrow's Best Poems

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


© 2010 

(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.


© 2011


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.

For the Love of Trees

© 2011

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.


© 2013

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.

Some Dance

© 2016

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 




In Woodlands

© 2012


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.

Ode à Mon Stylo 

© 2012


Mon stylo est le meilleur!

Il vit dans mon vrai coeur.

Nous sommes toujours ensemble,

parce qu'il et si agréable.


Avec lui j'aime écrire-

je ne peux pas m'abstenir.

Son encre, si lisse et noire,

est ce que je veux avoir.


Il écrit tellement vite-

pas comme mon crayon décrépit

qui se trouve seul sur mon bureau,

comme un perdu bateau.


Je l'aime si intensément!

Je suis à lui, cent pour cent.

Et je ne le laisserai jamais,

car nous sommes une équipe, je sais.

Take a look at my website entitled The Obscure Poetess (click!). It features the biographies and poetry of women poets who published between 1900 and 1959. Some were once known, but have lapsed into obscurity, and many were everyday women who self-published their collections.

A Lover's Rose

© 2010

(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.

Starry Night

© 2014

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.

Madeline Moore

© 2011

(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.

May Time Born

© 2018

In May time born, whose supple breath

has softened crust of winter's death—

a baby born in bloom of May,

where scented petals pave her way,

begins her journey with a view

of lilacs, bent with drops of dew,

to sounds of buzzing honey bees,

in cooling shade of greening trees.

And May's sweet breath shall brush her face

anointing her with years of grace

where spring will blossom, heaven sent,

to rend her winters impotent.

Little Bird

© 2014

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.


Covey of Quail

© 2011

(English Sonnet)

Alone I trudged, along a lane;

my breath in misted clouds exhaled,

though swirling thoughts there must remain

inside and close, suppressed, curtailed.

For there are times we do not dare

to risk, by bringing to the light

the musings that we cannot share,

that keep us from our sleep at night.

And suddenly, before my stride,

a whistling flutter, soft and frail,

and strutting forward, puffed with pride-

a mother and her baby quail.

How small but sure that covey seemed!

And I went home to sleep ... and dreamed.

The Genius of Mozart

© 2011

(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.

Concurring With Millay

© 2016

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 Visitor

© 2011

(English Sonnet)

The Store

© 2016

(painting by Mary O.Smith)

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.


© 2014

My little one, you'll never know-

no matter how you learn and grow-

you'll never know, my precious one,

how much you left my heart undone

the first time I beheld your face--

a cherub's brow, a smile of grace.

For though I know those newborn smiles

are unintended for a while,

I think you hear an angel's voice--

and so you smile, and I rejoice.

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,


Idyll By the Tracks

© 2018

Beside the tracks, a windblown, grassy field,

surrounded by a crumbling wall of stone,

holds chiseled slates, askew and half concealed,

with dates and names, since long ago, unknown.

 I walk among them, under chestnut's shade,

where Queen Anne's lace and daisies kiss the sun,

and read the names the old stone cutter made

on summer days the ages have undone.


A bluebird stops and folds his sapphire wing

atop a stone, engraved with greatest care.

For pure elation, he begins to sing—

alive, where sunlight warms the fragrant air.


I lean against the tree to rest my bones

as humming insects add their melody

to trilling notes of bluebird's silvery tones

entwining in a breezy symphony.


This tranquil glade, infused with song and bloom,

belies the grim reminder of the tomb.

Cute Kittens

How Is This Love?

© 2018

How is this love

that flushes the skin

and dissolves the bones,

setting in behind the brow and

along the delicate temples,

spreading through blue veins?


What force is this,

that calls to attention

like a dog whistle,

like the clang of the cow bell 

that mothers ring to call children in for dinner?


Do not suppose that to run toward it

means finding the comfort of home

with a steaming plate of dinner.

No, love is not like that.


Escape is unthinkable, 

as it will hunt and stalk

until it lashes its tentacles around the ankles,

pulling its prey to the ground

and dragging it until the mouth chokes with dirt.


And yet,


in a cool and scented place,

where the world is slowly rocked

in the hands of a gentle giant,

love courses

through a buttery beam of the moon, 

lucent and lush.

Its glow tickles the ear,

whispering what is already known,

but long forgotten.


And its tender tug

compels us to reach out to another

and bravely bare

what is perilous

and frail.

Farewell to Summer

© 2019

Farewell to Summer's gilded stay,

as Autumn reaches auburn hands

to fold the Summer's realm away—

her flowering fields on sun-drenched lands.


While Summer wanes, her drowsy gaze

admires her blossoming domain.

She mourns the end of golden days,

her string of jewels where few remain.


From sapphire skies and sunset's bliss,

she turns her melancholy face,

and whispers Summer's final wish

to goldenrod and Queen Anne's lace.


Farewell to Summer's gilded stay.

With birds to southern climes she goes,

while here, in Earth's celestial sway,

her bloom is blanketed with snows.


 © 2017

I saw the sun go dark today,

colossal orbs aligned.

The afternoon faded away

to awe all humankind.

We watched as moon to earth opposed

in their celestial shift,

and lucent day to night transposed

in one huge, astral drift.

I felt, right then, the massive slide

that carries me through space—

a single grain of sand, I ride

on Earth's eternal face.

Colossal orbs aligned today

to make my world go dark—

the mighty sun on bold display

and me, barely a spark.

Forever Summer

© 2016

Like rose-hip jam, the evening spreads,

transforming blue to pinks and reds.

The tender palms of summer's hold

suspend the twilight's deepening fold 

to where forever seems to sway

between the pulse of night and day.


These honeyed hours, this transient flow

of scented breath must never go,

and every night the darkened skies

must wink with sacred fireflies.


And yet, if summer evenings breach

the crisp domain of autumn's reach,

this brief caress of balmy nights

will fail to bring such rich delights—


as fireflies would cease to shine,

and lose their spark of the divine.