I wrote "These Birds" for a creative writing class taught by Peter Streckfus at George Mason University. The exercise was to take a poem by Sylvia Plath ("Stillborn") and write a poem of our own using her structure and the same parts of speech. I was encouraged by the feedback and decided to enter it into a contest sponsored by the Poetry Society of Virginia. To my surprise, it won first place in a category for lyrical poems. I'm proud of it and grateful for the validation, but I don't consider myself a poet. I am, however, an excellent magpie.
These birds will not fly: it's not a modern phenomenon.
They shed their down and feathers softly,
Their shunned bodies dull with longing.
If they start singing toward the sunlight
It will be because they live in darkness.
O you must not blaspheme what binds them!
They flock unquestioningly to fellowship and order.
They abide obediently in the airless buildings!
They wait and wait and wait for Him.
And never the feathers do fly nor the bodies do rise.
They sway as grasses, they murmur as flies,
Though they affect a contented and guileless mien --
It would be easy for them to leave, and that's what they crave.
Yet they bide, while their bones burn wild with desire
With eyes turned skyward, and will not fly for themselves.
After "Stillborn" by Sylvia Plath