Winter Fray


Six inches, after the first storm. A whir
of blades across the snow-packed pavement's trench,

and the blower splattered across the fence
a Pollock canvas, an hoarfrost-strewn blur

from the Tecumseh engine's angry burr.
Against winter, this is your armament -

a 2-stage, 11-hp, 30-inch,
pull-start, self-propelled silverback monster.

She fought back with seven inches, her scrawl
strafed across the night's blackboard sky like chalk.

A quick change of spark plugs after a stall,
and you push her across the border, back.

In the morning's ceasefire, the white crystal
of last night's fray reveals a silver Rorschach.


42 comments:

  1. 'Winter Fray' is a Miltonian sonnet, and also a poem in response to the painting 'After the Storm' by the talented Canadian artist Heather Horton.

    'Winter Fray' is part of a series of pieces I am doing in response to Heather's art, in the spirit of my previous ekphrastic poetry - poetry in response to art - explored, for example, in my book "Sonnets from the Labrador".

    This series - with its over-arching metaphor of snow - will, when completed, be the basis for a book mixing both the art and the poetry.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why does this remind me of my snow mobile days in Upstate New York?
    They certainly left the odd Rohrschach behind.

    ReplyDelete
  3. felt the action in this piece... much movement in the scene

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like how you weave in so naturally the references to Pollock, Tecumseh, et al., how all of your images support each other to create that masterful artwork of snow, via snowblower... equated to a "silverback" no less.

    Really like your idea for the series.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Masterful. I revel in the diction you utilize for this poem. They carry with them the magic that makes this poem draw the reader into its mosaic. I was made to feel the chill, but more so the power of a extremely talent laden poem.

    ReplyDelete
  6. much to like here...starts with the pollock canvas...such a great image...and then of course the 2-stage, 11-hp, 30-inch,
    pull-start, self-propelled silverback monster....how cool is that...

    ReplyDelete
  7. a silver rorschacht...ha cool imagery in this man...and def feel the battle in it as well between man and nature....nice use of polock as well....hmm...need to think a bit on your metaphor in this as well...the endless struggle is the easy one...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Found Art rocks nature, or vice versa! Very enjoyable.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love this, and not only because I am living this year :)
    SO many wonderful lines and images, but my very favorite is "her scrawl
    strafed across the night's blackboard sky like chalk. "
    wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ah, beautiful - I love the way you lift the mundane into the extraordinary - the details sing

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sam, wonderful lines in this piece, I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I look forward to the book!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hilarious poetic battle scene and personification of our Winterly tasks.
    Though I stumbled not knowing how to pronounce "Tecumseh"!
    Did you know that Rorschach was inspired by a poet's drawings?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am in awe Sam as I have just witnessed this winter fray ~ Like the sounds here, whir of blades & blower, spark plugs, push ~ A treat to read this morning ~

    ReplyDelete
  15. Winter Fray - I can relate and wish I had thought of this word pairing. It would fit my blog as a title nicely. Anyhow, enough with envy. I'm pleased that the snow has departed my patch of ground and spring is offering the sounds of lawnmowers instead of snowblowers.

    Very much enjoyed.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Winter is the last season of our very lives, and the preview we get every year just doubles our downer as the years pile up like old magazines in the basement. We have mildish winters here in the Northwest, but I hate driving and commuting in snow. Since I've retired, I can chill a bit, and not want to strangle snowflakes.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The line "She fought back with seven inches, her scrawl strafed across the night's blackboard sky like chalk." accelerates for me. The rhythm picks up speed. Nice.

    ReplyDelete
  18. swinging back through...and i appreciate the look again...you are the bar we reach for...seriously man...as much fun as i poke at form, you use it wonderfully....thanks for teaching us sir...

    ReplyDelete
  19. I read your poem, close my eyes and see the words come to life. Nice.

    ReplyDelete
  20. her scrawl strafed across the night's blackboard sky like chalk....love it...just thought i'd come back for another read...third time.. and after trying my hands on a miltonian sonnet as well and knowing that they're not so easy to write, i just love how free-verse the feel of yours is and how effortless it flows..thanks for tending bar tonight sam

    ReplyDelete
  21. How great imagery of a snow moving machine. Myself I'm still using shovel.. But I once wrote a sonnet about an old tractor. Very inspiring,

    ReplyDelete
  22. Very good--what does it say about us, trying as we do to bring order the the world's wildness? All we can do is hold it at bay for a short spell. This piece can also be read as a symbol of human's resistance against despair or depression. Again, very well done!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Reading this again, again, again, again....

    Think I might have to give up being a poet ....

    Seriously, this is amazing. You manage to make the form appear so natural.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Beautifully written adventure of your winter battle. Enjoyed muchly!

    Anna :o]

    ReplyDelete
  25. Wonderful. Your sonnet encouraged me to have a go.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I have limited experience with snowy worlds - just 2 weeks when I was about 12 years old! So these images are like a fantasy for me of some encroaching monster that turns the enemy into some precious earth crystal!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Most of my snowy experience was as a child, when bread straight out of the oven seemed like heaven, but I never had to do the hard battle work. I don't even think I've ever seen such a machine, but now I can imagine..

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi,

    I always enjoy your writing..you certainly have a way with the written word.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Love the structure and the narrative that runs through this sonnet - I enjoyed the metaphor of the snow plough very much .... we do fight winter and find silver Rorschach's - this works on so many levels ... you have set the bar very high as always :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. Sam, I can add nothing to the high praise that this sonnet has received. Perfection!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I really like the sound in this: "across the snow-packed pavement's trench" ... excellent combination of words. Also these: "a Pollock canvas, an hoarfrost-strewn blur," "her scrawl strafed across the night's blackboard sky like chalk," and "the white crystal of last night's fray reveals a silver Rorschach." How beautiful that you see an artist's handiwork everywhere you look. You are a gifted poet indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  32. You inspired me. I told a story too but woefully inept I fear. My first sonnet. Enjoyed yours.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I am not sure how I should read that line 2stage, 11 hp, 30 inch, so my rhythm may have gone a bit wonky there... but a very ingenious type of sonnet (and sadly, still very topical in many parts of Europe).

    ReplyDelete
  34. A number of powerful images here, combing beautifully to form a graceful work.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I love your mention of "Pollack canvas" and Rorschach. These bring fantastic images to mind. Thank you for the intro to this sonnet form!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I lived in Maine for 5 years and loved this with its familiarity of images yet your new words to paint the picture for me to see it differently. This was a great prompt, thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  37. For a further exposition and a related essay on poetics, please see my article "The Librarian, the Poet, and the Snowblower".

    Thanks so much for all the kind words!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Marvelously crafted!

    ReplyDelete
  39. We don't have snow over here but we have grass. So there's no snow-blower but we have a lawn mower. Funny enough Sam, it has a Tecumseh engine. It whirls and brrr.. like so! Wonderful write!

    Hank

    ReplyDelete
  40. I live snowless, I'm glad to say, so the notion of the 'fray' between people and winter, with machine and snow as weapons, is novel. You make it so real that I'm doubly glad to live without it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  41. I am also a sun person. You have inspired me to write a poem about my slasher as I attack wild jack in the beanstalk weeds on my property this Easter.Happy Easter Semaphore!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Your language is so vivid. Beautifully done.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for visiting my site, I'm grateful you've taken the time to read. If you liked this selection, you can download a sampler of (or buy!) my books at the following links...

- Sonata Vampirica
- Sonnets from the Labrador
- How More Beautiful You Are
- Tango Desolado
- War and Ablution

...And, if you can, please leave a rating at Amazon.com. It's easy, and it does help a lot.

...Thank you!