Photo ©Luis Garcia


Peacrow struts,

pied harbinger waddles,

the weight of misfortune on its back.

No idiot fowl, this,

the cunning of the crow, beady bright intellect,

and the morals of a guttersnipe.

Bird, you trail your glorious tail,

spread wings, a Chinese kite

and shriek your raucous cry,

brawling in the bushes where the robin sings,

and doves shuffle nervously, fledglings beneath the wing,

wary of the snowy white pantaloons and heavy beak,

the opportunist gangster of the poplars.

A single showy flash, lone bird of bad augur,

and I turn for home,

the sky suddenly charged with rain,

or some domestic drama brewing out of sight.

Black and white, luck and disaster, oracle bird,

Magpie, fie!


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

13 thoughts on “Magpie”

  1. How strange…. to read this poem today. Were you writing it as I gazed out at the back lawn and watched a pair of magpies jumping beside each other, relieved it was not a solitary harbinger? ‘Two for joy – Good!’ I thought, feeling long, long overdue for some of that.

    Thank you, Jane. ((xxx))

    1. It’s funny because I’m not superstitious and very sceptical about anything paranormal (and I include religion in that category) but I really get bad vibes from magpies. A single one, of course. Two is fine 🙂

  2. I had to look them up–I thought they were like crows. We don’t have them in this part of the U.S. I found out that a couple usually picks a nesting site together, but sometimes they disagree and build separate nests. Maybe that explains the single and pair? In any case, I love the poem. 🙂

    1. They are spectacular looking crows and form pairs, so you usually either see them in one’s or twos, hence one bad luck, two good luck. But you also see them in groups and there’s a rhyme that deals with up to seven of them, but only a single one is unlucky. I don’t like them because they steal fledglings from other birds’ nests.

    1. Thank you, Ann 🙂 I’m not a fan of magpies because they’re noisy and they cause smaller birds so much grief, but it’s unfortunate for them that they have been lumbered with this superstition.

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