V.51

Evenings I stare into light
and wonder why I do not sleep.
I see the wonderful smoothness
of her sat on a windowsill

The cat which is next to her is
not quite with it. She cradles her
phone like I want to be cradled
she sits and smiles the internet

loves a good smile, and a beauty
is brought which justifies all that,
all the machinery of phones.
As if I could step through the stream

and into the darkened room, run
my fingers across her tattoos
Examine her eyes for weakness.
I imagine it would not be

there. The red new leaves of the oak
hatch from a wooden cocoon, where
ancient flooded mines make a home
for birds. We sit on the lithe bench

near rotten memorial blooms
and your shoulders are bright and smooth.
The real woman and imagined
are feathers of the same warm ghost

Paris Old Mosque

Tired, we wander once more
botanical pathways
comment on crows, seeders

pens holding red pandas
lazed asleep on logshade
the flowers press forward

out the back archway, then
basically clueless, we
wander around grey streets

Til up jumps the old mosque
with its blinding sun skin
we pass to shade where birds

& humans eat & drink
mint tea, seeds & pastries
we sit & read, watching

this crowding. Tile-glazed square
dappled, shimmering. The
afternoon flutters off

Dove’s Mission Creep

Dove sat
stunned at what had happened
god sat next to her

I still don’t quite know what happened, said god
Dove stared, and all god saw was his own face
this made him glad.

But then he saw crow far off on the dry world
began to cry
Dove hopped on his shoulder and drank

The tears made Dove grow terrible
she slipped out into the heavens
with a syringe and a cotton swab

Return of the Red Kite

The Red Kite is a bird of prey which was almost wiped out by landlords with rifles, and then soulless egg collectors. It was saved by some thoughtful people in a campaign against their stupidity. Now it can be seen all over West Yorkshire again. This poem is about the first time I saw one as I walked nearby Harewood.

Carefully she offers control to the currents
as her eye glides up over furrows –
never overcorrecting, she appears
when she means to, clears the barren treetops
and fastens some fur between her beak and the ground.

Her predator’s presence in the city shows
she retains the perfection of ages –
and rats, nested in stubborn woodland patches
sing of her soundings to their children, of days
of sudden pain when scraps and salvage end.

I was deprived of her, by the lords.
Eggs, whose skin could crackle like woodfire
instead were fixed alone, under glass –
as a nobler blood stained the tree-forks.
Their keening night-cry declared the time.

And silence slowly took to the skies while I was born
as the hill-wind began to forget a part of itself.
No longer the slip and slither of air around wing –
only the crow’s desperate gasping and magpie chitter.
I did not know that anything was missing.

Then, one day as we walked amongst the drizzle
along a long drystone wall, I followed her hand
which gestured up. How can it be, that a few dark specks
and their swoopings, complete the sky?
I felt this, and mum smiled to see me smile.

Dilemma

Coffee, dark in the dark morning
Soothing my throat of sleep’s work
In the shadows of the cold room.

My enjoyment sleepily ceased,
Of this waking dream, I sit aching
From yesterdays forgotten exertions.

Birds, flowing in their sky-patterns
using air as their darkness, they live
In the shadows of the breeze.

One lands on a gutter and slips
Into a drainpipe, scraping the walls
Impacts the dark stone and rots.

It struggles to leave, constrained
Eyes at the perfect level for worms
It cries shortly, immobile, waiting.

Speculations on how to be freed,
From this dispersing life, aided
To spark once again, in the night.