The nestlings bicker
until one by one they test
new wings and fly

not far
not out of sight
not yet.

And returning one by one
in twos or threes
they fill the old place

and we pretend
that nothing has changed
the call the ties

but each time
the leaving launch is smoother
the flight further

and the heart clutches
at the trailing thread
grown so tenuous
almost one with the blue.

Storm birds

Storm birds

The storm has come again,
the same that girdles the earth
with serpent breath and bull-bellow voice;

the green is doused and dripping,
chaffinch-tongued by the house,
indefatigable warblers in the hedge.

Birds have little time for posturing;
not even the unchained ranting
of the sky will keep them quiet
while there are still songs to sing.

Gogyohka sequence for morning songs

looking south and west

on the telephone wire

the kestrel’s perch

a blackbird sings

suspended above hedge and nest

oblivious to property rights


morning music swells

the oriole section in the poplars

thrush and blackbird centre oaks

and on the right

woodpigeon percussion


waking to sunlight

pale as moonlight

silver in the grass where gold waits

strung with jewelled drops

of birdsong



Still they come, the birds,

not sky-filling but speckling

in discreet patches, moving targets,

keeping out of range, horizon to horizon,

tree-resting with folded wings

then moving on. Birds

calling, lingering the time of a meal

to flash bright feathers and fly where birds

go to be just birds,

find seeds, grubs undisturbed.

Spring springs from their wings unfolded,

defying cold and gale, storm-windy rain; the birds

still come, little heroes.

Earth colours


Silver the river in the sun

serpentine its coiled meanders

sombre the birdless trees

in this silent spring.


Golden the light

that falls from a sunless sky

in the time between

the end and the beginning.


Black and endless

the night that seeps

while stars sleep

into our final dreams.


Red as flames are red

that leap and eat the sky

the cool green leaves

and all is crying.


Green with hope

the new grass growing

and kinder hands tilling

this rich earth.


Merril’s poem yesterday reminded me that I haven’t used this image in a while. Today is my birthday and I am planning on being a spark.



When we dig beneath the fallen leaves,

brown in the incessant rain,

and there is only cold earth,

and overhead there is no sky,

just the sodden stuffing of a burst mattress,

when the cold is, and the rain is,

and nothing comes to fill the outstretched hand,

no joy, no timid, whisker-twitching hope,

we shrink, tempted by the swollen river

and its powerful embrace.

Every day, dull as ditch water,

chill and bleak, I give thanks

that there are always the birds,

cold, hungry, watchful,

dancing like sparks

from the furnace of the universe.

Bird skirmishing


robin tweets his warning cry

fiery fierce

from his honeysuckle bush

none shall enter

this private tangle


egrets in the meadow

pause in their insect search

then resume unconcerned

the bullets

were for someone else


crows mob the buzzard

black voices hoarse with hatred

but when the red kites arrive

slow in tight formation

no one moves