Sunday 28 July 2013

Gull Watching by Colin Will

The pitter-patter of little feet
is a gull paddling on the grass
to raise a worm from its deep tunnel
through the threat of rain.

The stare of a gull, unable to blink,
unwilling to turn the head away,
outfaces you every time. The yellow eye,
black pupil, silver eye-ring, challenges.

Red spot on the lower bill
a chick’s target to peck at,
to make the parent throw up
its last catch – fish, chip, pizza crust.

The aggressive wing-joint’s thrust forward,
and I don’t know if in human arms it would be
elbow, wrist or fist. It doesn’t work on us;
we don’t know gull’s language of gestures.

Head down, neck stretched out, the keening call
a yearling makes to beg for food
from a more successful adult,
that’s something we understand.

They’ll watch the eiders dive
then dive on them as they surface,
keen to snatch a morsel of mollusc
before it can be swallowed.

It’s no surprise Hitchcock chose you
for the attack: the strength, sharpness of beak,
all-out and in your face, breaking through glass,
confronting us, from somewhere alien.

Colin Will, Scotland

Sunday 21 July 2013

(at falling tide on Islay) by Louise Bankhead

You can't come from a land
That talks of Soul
Without believing in it
You can't leave dust grey skies
Without missing the bird's trail

It seems to be a light burning under my skin
... It seems to leave me
Every time I open my eyes

But I can't sleep now
Can't erase this taste of life

If the salt on my feet
Won't offer me roots
You'll be my breath

It seems your sun is rising under my skin
I can't renounce it
Even deaf
I hear your music's beat in me

But I can't sleep now
Can't forget what I feel
What I live for...

Let me see heather
Fading with our seasons
And follow the wind
To be free

I know it's there
And it won't release me
That blue fancy
Laid fallow
Like a bold deer
Watching over the sea...

Louise Bankhead, Edinburgh, Scotland 

Sunday 14 July 2013

The Cure by Lenny DellaRocca

There were many birds in my tree,
scarlet and indigo verbs
whose lyric spilled like iodine
into wounds of heat.
Yes, I took them down,
brought them into my car,
into a room for an hour
where they murdered everything
I thought I knew about escape or falling.
Sometimes I imagined us a theater
where I’d watch them
in the floodlights of anxiety and purpose.
Sometimes they just burned
leaving red wing marks on the soft
misplacement of my hands.
There would always be the delicate
removal of names,
replaced with a dainty narcotic
and the rough memory of sky.
They never lived in that tree,
but came to it for reasons
only known by them
and their green wisdom,
the smoke curling from their lavender mouths
like the last thoughts of a man who died
in the middle of his desire.

Lenny DellaRocca,USA

Sunday 7 July 2013

The Death of Trees by Josephine Shaw

When we woke the wind had dropped,
but power out, clock stopped, six huge elms
lay splayed all around the village pond -
two hundred years of swagger drained away.

And we pronounced them dead,
impressed the death of trees seemed
so much bigger than ours could be.
The earth keeps moving.

So memories of heavy horses, brasses shining,
a momentary vogue for Dutch barn building
(sandstone brick, pale Georgian paint),
or Shelley’s local popularity,

the coming and going of damp smoke,
the hug of village life, or young men
mustering for drill beneath the shade
(imagining Kipling, finding Arras),

were all left hanging in a point in space,
soft voices dead, in the unaccustomed sound of quiet.

Josephine Shaw, London, UK