The Falconer
by Sylvia Cavanaugh

     After Gerard Manly Hopkins

I refuse to be ground-bound like some king
rooted by weight of castle stone, riding
some cartographer’s stilted latitude, striding
through illusion. I will take wing,
soar as if on skyward wooden swing,
arm outstretched; my eyesight upward gliding.

There will be no more malevolent hiding
of small-drone military-industrial things.
My falcon will deliver them broken, here.
A million aluminum eyes, titanium lies; a billion,
spy flies, shattered at my feet. I, Luddite Chevalier,
forge only the shimmering sheen of sillion.

O, the rip and tear of beak and talon, dear;
and my closed fist, firm wrist, against imperial gates vermillion.

PHOTO: “Evening Hunter” by Buddy Mays. Prints available at fineartamerica.com. (A falconer holds her red-tailed hawk as the full moon sets over the red mud of John Day Fossil Beds in central Oregon.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always loved the poem, “The Windhover,” by Gerard Manly Hopkins. My mother used to recite the poem to me when I was a child. Hopkins was a nineteenth century poet who pioneered the use of “sprung rhyme.” I recently read H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, and was quite captivated by her description of training a goshawk. It made me want to become a falconer. Finally, I read in the news, recently, that trained eagles are being used to capture and destroy small drones. The technique used in writing the poem is called “The Golden Shovel.” The final word in each line in my poem is the exact same ending word as in “Windhover.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Originally from Pennsylvania, Sylvia Cavanaugh has an M.S. in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin. She currently teaches high school African and Asian cultural studies. She is the faculty advisor for break dancers and poets. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems have appeared in An Arial Anthology, Gyroscope review, The Journal of Creative Geography, Midwest Prairie Review, Stoneboat Literary Journal, Verse Wisconsin,and elsewhere. She is a contributing editor for Verse-Virtual, and a member of the board of the Council for Wisconsin Writers. Her chapbook, Staring Through My Eyes, is available from Finishing Line Press.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Striking the pose in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.