The Barn Owl


Defying earth and air and moon.

An essence made of sky and flight:

Your every silent bob and feint

Will stop a heart, or still the dew.


Defy mechanics, vault the clouds,

And shatter every shackled thought.

You see through roots, through night, through time,

And fly on questions, drift on mist.


Defy the senses, hide in sight,

You hear the elements combine.

You are the opposite of weight,

You are the miracle they missed.


Defying life’s fragility,

You scream impossibility.



13 Comments to “The Barn Owl”

  1. Another poem of yours to stop the heart, but like a medicine to reset its rhythm. I hate to be a copycat, but I hear my own barn owl calling from the mist . . .

  2. Wonderful contemplative writing, Gavin! It really feels here as if you have written from the ‘inside’ of the barn owl!

  3. I love this so much – love the rhythm and lilt of it….LOVE “you are the miracle they missed”…….a wonderful owl poem. And I so love owls.

  4. Holy crap this is good. The voice and tone remind me of a painting I saw titled “Two Majestics.” It was of a lion and a sunset, and really captured how nature commands reverence. Fantastic read, per usual.

  5. Wow,…the rhythm is constant through out….I like this just because of your ability to carry it through. It’s not sloppy at all, which happens when people don’t attend to rhythm.
    Secondly, I love the way you describe the Barn Owl. It’s with sensitivity and words that aren’t a frontal attack on the creature….as description..and makes a very complete picture through our own senses which we strain to hear them.

    They are marvelous creatures, with what? 20x vision? They are stealth hunters, because that last feather turns upwards and breaks the flow of wind…and they become silent in flight. That is why they can swoop down on prey unseen. Plus, they hunt in darkness.

    Bird’s bones are hollow, and though they look like pitbulls with wings, they only weight a few pounds.

    Marvelous poem. A great description that goes from phyiscality to the essence of these mighty hunters.

    Lady Nyo

  6. “And shatter every shackled thought.” “Defying life’s fragility,”…. LOVE these lines… beautiful poem.

  7. cool topic – makes me want to seek out an owl. Dig the flow of this piece as well.

  8. That’s lovely! (And I’m a big fan of owls.)

  9. Immaculate piece..

  10. Dear Gavin,

    My French is not that good to handle long poetry, even a sonnet. However, Malay is my first language and here is an offering of your Barn Owl in Malay (and maybe one stanza of French later)

    Pungguk (Malay)

    Pungguk di antara bumi dan bulan
    Menari di awang awangan
    Meluncur, memanjat awan
    Embun menanti penuh harapan

    Mencabar deruan angin
    Meniti malam yang dingin
    Pandangan tajam menikam
    Pabila bahaya mencengkam

    Hilang seketika, tiba-tiba
    Mengentap angan angan hiba
    Terbang sayup, alah bergaya
    Ajaib dan sungguh perkasa

    Tiada yang anih lagi kerdil
    Tiada yang mustahil…

    Le Hibou (French)

    Défiant la terre et de l’air et de la lune.
    Une essence du ciel et de vol:
    Votre chaque plongée silencieuse et feinte
    Arrête un coeur, la rosée.
    La fragilité de la vie,
    Vous criez impossibilité.

  11. Love the imagery.

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