Potcake Poet’s Choice: Richard Fleming, ‘Blackbird’

With catapult, once school was finished,
I went to hunt in woodland, high
above the town, in summer light
and heard, among leafed branches spread,
a blackbird, singing like a bell.
I took aim, shot; the missile flew
unerringly, my aim was true,
with awful suddenness it fell,
all broken. Exultation fled,
to be replaced by sickly fright.
I knelt to watch it slowly die.
Within me somewhere, light diminished.

*****

Richard Fleming writes: “I wrote Blackbird, an autobiographical poem, many years ago, with a rhyme scheme that I believed I’d invented. I’ve since learned that the pattern is well established and is known as Chiasmus, the repetition of any group of verse elements in reverse order, such as the rhyme scheme ABCDEEDCBA. Examples can be found in Biblical scripture (“But many that are first / Shall be last, / And many that are last / Shall be first”; Matthew 19:30). The poem records a coming-of-age event and such experiences can sometimes be traumatic.”

Richard Fleming is an Irish-born poet currently living in Guernsey, a small island midway between Britain and France. His work has appeared in various magazines, most recently Snakeskin, Bewildering Stories, Lighten Up Online, the Taj Mahal Review and the latest Potcake Chapbook ‘Lost Love’, and has been broadcast on BBC radio. He has performed at several literary festivals and his latest collection of verse, Stone Witness, features the titular poem commissioned by the BBC for National Poetry Day. He writes in various genres and can be found at www.redhandwriter.blogspot.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/richard.fleming.92102564/

Photo: Male common blackbird with feed in Lausanne, Switzerland, by Shantham11, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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