Slivered Moon

Slivered moon on slippers slides
Across the skies on silver tides,
Draping cobwebs over trees
And coaxing shadows to their knees.
No more this day will swallows sweep,
Above the ground where creatures creep.
Where frog and toad with bulging eye,
Sing to the world their lullaby.
Where ant and spider, snail and slug,
Traverse their moonlit, earthy rug,
And creep and slither to and fro,
Today… as they did moons ago.

And from my window, safe and sound,
I search a moonlit patch of ground,
For signs of life, sans-bivouac,
To join this sad insomniac.
While up above, the gods of gloom,
Pervade my shrinking moonlit room,
Until the night is full of woe,
And life and death seem touch-and-go,
When eerie spectral demons squat,
Engrossed in one colossal plot
Of lightning flash and thunder crack,
Fast followed by the blackest black.

The peace returns, my eyes adjust,
To tiny specks of sparkling dust.
To slivered moon in palest dress,
Appearing soon to evanesce.
And as I stumble in the bleak
And dismal night of dark mystique,
Returning to my worried bed,
Of toss and turn and gingerbread,
I close my mind to worldly blight
And all the creatures of the night,
That live and die in their commune,
Beneath their ghostly, slivered moon.



Norma Pain was born in Liverpool, England and now lives in Parksville, British Columbia, Canada. Thirty of Norma’s poems were published by Dana Literary Society, between 2004 and 2007 and she was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize by that same on-line poetry site. She self-published a book of rhyme in 2000 called Bulging Assets.

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25 Responses

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for your comment jd. My little book was just an amusing hobby and as a gift for family and friends. Rather amateurish but fun to do. I had just discovered that I really enjoyed writing poetry with rhyme and meter.

  1. Paul Freeman

    ‘Where ant and spider, snail and slug,
    Traverse their moonlit, earthy rug…’

    Making snails and slugs sound exotic is no mean feat.

    Thanks for the read, Norma.

  2. Cheryl Corey

    Norma, I enjoy the rhymes, the imagery, and phrasing in this poem.

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    These are beautiful stanzas, with a very rich vocabulary (slither, sans-bivouac, pervade, spectral, colossal, evanesce). And there is a fine use of alliteration, such as “Slivered moon on slippers slides” and “swallows sweep” and “specks of sparkling dust.” Also, the rhyming couplets with exclusively masculine endings create a tightness that makes for a driving intensity.

    I have only one question. Is the word “critters” in the sixth line the best choice here? To my ear it adds an unnecessary dialectical note that doesn’t fit in with the overall tone of the entire poem. The problem would be solved by changing it to the standard form “creatures,” which maintains the alliteration and the two-syllable position.

    Of course, in my American speech “creature” is disyllabic (CREE-chure). Perhaps in British English the pronunciation is different.

    • Margaret Coats

      For a more specific kind of critter or creature, how about “vermin,” or “glow-worms” to go along with the moonlight? “Crickets” would alliterate, but they leap rather than creep.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you so much Joseph for all your comments. I had to refer to my dictionary a few times!! Also, I am not familiar with the term ‘masculine endings’, not sure what that means?
      My rhyming dictionary teaches me new words all the time, so I cannot take credit for some of this poem, eg. sans-bivouac and evanesce, two new words for me.
      I would like to use your suggestion of creatures instead of critters. After re-reading it a few times, it did sound much better. Thank you.
      I will ask Evan if he can make the change for me and thank him also for the most appropriate artwork to compliment my poem.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        A masculine ending means that a line of verse ends with a stressed syllable. Take this line from Shakespeare:

        When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes…

        There is a strong stress of the last word “eyes.” This line has a masculine ending.

        A feminine ending means that the line of verse ends with an unstressed syllable. Here’s another line from Shakespeare:

        A woman’s face, with Nature’s own hand painted…

        The last word “painted” ends with an unstressed syllable (-ed). This line has a feminine ending.

      • Norma Pain

        Thank you for explaining this to me Joseph. So many nuances in poetry that I am learning from yourself and others.

  4. Margaret Coats

    What a gorgeous lunar lyric! The scene-setting stanza is something the fairies in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” might sing. I’m glad the demons of insomnia didn’t make a long stay in the second stanza. It’s a great idea to end it with “lightning flash and thunder crack,” returning to the “insomniac” rhyme sound. We’re then ready for the clearing of the air and peaceful sleep under peaceful skies. How long could you possibly toss and turn in a bed decorated with architectural gingerbread? This poem is all about the details, and you’ve done wondrous work with them.

    • Norma Pain

      Margaret, your comments are so lovely and I appreciate them very much.
      Lunar lyric and fairies singing and architectural gingerbread, make me want to create more poems. Thank you.

  5. Jeff Eardley

    Norma, a few more nights of insomnia and you could end up with a best-seller. The first two lines are wonderful and I love insomniac/sans bivouac. This is a most enjoyable piece of work. Thank you.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you very much Jeff. At this stage of my life, I think I would prefer to have more sleep and less rhymes running through my head but the amazing comments I have received, make the insomnia worth it.

  6. Brian Yapko

    A most delightful poem, Norma. I read the title as a sleep-deprived pun of “Silvery Moon” but which also charmingly describes a New Moon. I greatly enjoyed the rhymes, the imagery, the chewy language which makes this poem fun to read out loud — especially lines like “When eerie spectral demons squat,/Engrossed in one colossal plot…” I like what Margaret said about the Midsummer Night’s Dream Fairies. To me, your poem has more the form and feel of a Shakespearian incantation. The first two stanzas make me think of the Weird Sisters or Caliban. The third, less bleak stanza is more purely Prospero.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you for your comments Brian. Chewy language…. I will need to chew on that some!!
      I actually have to admit that I know nothing about Shakespeare so I will need to look up Midsummer Night’s Dream Fairies and Shakespearian incantation. Also the Weird Sisters, Caliban and finally, Prospero….. all Greek to me!!!
      Thank you Brian but now I have to return to school which wasn’t my most favorite place to be.

  7. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Norma, this exquisite poem has everything I love singing from the beautifully woven lines – it has fun with words while tapping into the senses to create an atmospheric delight of linguistic triumph. I recognize the restless sleeplessness throughout… I think this will resonate with many in these worrying times. Great stuff! Never put your pen down!

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you Susan, especially for the word ‘exquisite’ attached to my poem. I think I imagined when I recently wrote this poem, that it might be one of my better ones. After reading all of the wonderful comments, I am hoping I can write more in this style, but sadly it cannot be forced for me. You seem to be able to come up with poems on any subject, at any time and with the most amazing use of words and rhymes, written in all of the different styles. I have much to learn from you and others on this site.

  8. C.B. Anderson

    You are damn good at what you do, Norma, and I hope you keep doing it.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you so much C.B. I really appreciate your comments. My head is feeling rather swollen at the moment!!

      • C.B. Anderson

        Then just dunk it in a warm bath of epsom salts.

  9. Shaun C. Duncan

    This is a wonderful poem, Norma with solid, but interesting rhymes and an extremely pleasing use of alliteration. It’s a delight to read.

    • Norma Pain

      Thank you very much for commenting Shaun. I really appreciate it.


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