Day rises out of night-chill
and white frost
bathed in frozen fog.

Pearled sky blues, touch by touch,
beaten by kestrel wings
searing the trailing mist

until on a sudden,
in a wing-flash, white as egrets,
there is only light,

green, blue,
and between, the kestrel god
hangs in splendour.


Things with wings

Photo ©Imran Shah


Through the lashing rain we peer

at sky that heaves with waves of spray

and windswept trees, their gilding stripped,

the grass once green, a sodden grey,

and shiver by the wood stove’s glow.


Through the sheets and steely shafts

above the field where water streams

a kestrel hangs despite the rain,

defies the wind with wings deployed,

a bird, a thing of feather brain.


We tread the earth with feet of clay,

our roots go deep as any tree,

when bird-wing shadows cross our path

we raise our eyes in jealousy;

no pinions have we to spread.


Though in pride we trample lesser things

we only in our wildest dreams have wings.

Haibun for raptors



Today was a day of raptors. The outliers of a flock of red kites sailed low and unimpressed by my upturned face; I saw each feather, the pale wing patches, the bright russet red of pinions and the darker head, crook-beaked, bent, searching the grass about my feet for movement.

Speed and grace

in this silent death-bringer

no baying for blood

Then the hobbies, narrow-winged, sharp and rapid, darted past at head height. In their rolling swallow-flight they turned—slate-grey back, pale-flecked underside and face dark-moustached, gone almost faster than sight.

twin graces

speed and light feather-tough

then an empty sky

And the ever-present buzzards, with broad wings owl-like, wheeling over the fields where the hunters have passed by. Now I watch a kestrel hovering, saint-ésprit, searching for voles in the long grass, wings and tail fanned, each feather aquiver.

empty sky

suddenly fills with wings

and I soar

Kestrel hunting

Photo©Artemy Volkhansky


I never tire of the splendid sight

Of kestrel hunting in the field beyond,

Nor of the power of her swooping flight.

The grass is brown and withered with the cold

And damp with melted frost, yet full of life

That will not have the luck of growing old.

Falcon takes and grips with sprung-trap claws

The red-blood scuttlers in the field below,

Following the first of all the laws.

Wind ruffles all our feathers, brown and grey,

And every dog, they say, will have his day,

All are, unfeathered, furred, raptor or prey.