stolen, borrowed, begged

STOLEN

 Blindworm asleep Nightingale
 plucks out its eye to partner his other
 places it into his hollow socket
 to attend Wren’s Wedding.

 Blindworm vows
 to catch nightingale asleep
 to snatch back its eye.

 So nightingale vows
 to sing night and day
 and stay awake.

 BORROWED

 ” Please can I borrow your eyes?”
 Asks the blind nightingale
 of the excellent eyed blindworm
 ” I’ve been invited to faerie wedding,
 and don’t want to look foolish.”

 After the nightingale sees bright
 colours, red, green and gold
 of the faerie occasion, he tells
 blindworm, “I cannot return
 these worlds of light, but will
 sing to you, my friend, night and day.”

 BEGGED

 Blindworm felt the waters rise
 around him and feared to drown.
 He looked up to see Nightingale
 sat on a branch all of a shudder.

 “Why do you cry, my friend?”
 says worm to bird.
 “I wish to go to Faerie Wedding,
 but have no eyes to see it.”
 says bird to worm.

 “I beg you, take my excellent eyes.”
 as I would rather be blind than die.”
 says worm to bird
 “And I shall sing to you night and day.”
 says bird to worm.

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Pickatree

At creation Boss says to all birds,
 “Excavate all the hollows,
 release water to make
 seas, rivers and pools.”

 All obeyed, except Pickatree.
 who sat still, would not move,
 or flitted between branches.
 “It is dirty work. I can’t
 soil this bright golden coat,
 or silver shine of my legs.”

 And the Boss replies
 “If that’s fact, from now on,
 tha coat is sooty black.
 Tha’ll only peck at wood,
 Tha claws’ll climb bark upwards,
 so tha open beak sup only rain,
 and tha yaffles only heard
 afore downpours.”

Alternative version

PICKATREE AT START OF WORLD

 At start of world a mass of birds,
 excavate all hollows,
 loose water into them
 as to make fresh and salt
 seas, rivers and pools.”

 All except Pickatree.
 who sits still, will not move,
 or flits between branches.
 “It’s dirty work. I can’t
 soil this bright golden coat,
 or silver shine of my legs.”

 All on a sudden Pickatree finds
 his coat is sooty black.
 he can only peck at wood,
 his claws’ll only climb bark upwards,
 so his open beak sups only rain,
 and his yaffles only heard
 afore downpours.

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My Late Sister Is A Swift

Late sister who lived life on the wing,
 a wild, rollercoaster ride
 resurrected as a Swift,
 every late spring, laughbringer
 lobbed black anchor
 across blue skies,
 arrive after 4,000 miles,
 from Africa,
 or from the dead.

 Seem to live a dozen lives in one,
 heartlifter,
 scream diabolic frenzy,
 busy as you bank,
 twist, turn,

 all lifeflight,
 feed, mate, sleep
 in hurtle curves,
 in wingshiver,
 glide,

 wingfizz,
 wing glow,

 nest under the eaves
 in a shallow cup
 of spat together
 grasses, leaves,
 feathers snatched on the wing

 in
 scytheflight,
 needletail,
 snatch insects,
 spiderlings,
 store as bolus
 in your throat pockets.

 When rains come,
 you and partner skirt
 weather’s edge
 for days,

 your kids
 Tibetan monks
 enter state of stupor
 until your return.

 Fledged, your kids
 launch into air,
 spinetails,
 and may not land
 for eighteen months.
 depart at Summer’s height,
 for Africa’s heat,
 or your graveside.

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The Sea Raven

When darkness covers the earth
 it is my wings stretched out to dry,
 a temporary crucifix.

 When I fold them into myself
 I let the sun seed the soil,
 watch tide flence the shore.

 I eat death voraciously.
 Gobble it up into this black maw
 till there is nothing left.

 When I hunt, darkness dives into me.
 I train fishermen to use me,
 put me on a leash.

 I am mostly silent, worse than death,
 and will swallow you whole, head first, one day.

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a wisdom

I. hawked up, gossed out,
 a hard pellet of sin:
 jealousy’s scapula of shrew,
 greed’s jawbone of mole.
 envy’s rib of rat,
 lust’s vertebrae of mouse,
 pride’s chaetae of earthworm,
 sloth’s hindbone of chiffchaff.

 Wished a sparrowhawk’s
 stomach for gripe,
 acidity to dissolve most
 bones of disquiet.

 Small white live larvae
 of clothes moths feed on
 the compacted murder
 of fur and feather.

 II. Dissecting pellets of sin

 How to discover the sins?
 Half fill a pot with water
 add few drops of disinfectant.
 Place pellet in pot. Soak it
 until it sinks Take it out,
 blot off excess water.

 Use tweezers and cocktail sticks
 tease the sins apart.

 Careful as you go so nothing is missed.

 Remove bones or other items,
 clean them up, place to dry
 on newspaper.

 Note the basic material,
 or matrix, of the sin pellet.

 Is it mainly fur or feathers,
 or something else?

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street dove

You see me,
immaculate ash-grey plumage,
twin black wing bars,
white rump patch.
 
Everybody says they’ve Scottish
ancestors don’t they? Lived
and some of us still do in caves,
swoop through crash of spray,
shy. You’ll not believe us.
 
Me grandad carried dispatches
in wartime amid bombs and bullets,
his guano were used for gunpowder.
Explosive, he were. Now they cull
 
us for our white graffiti
on posh high rises. Say
we spread disease, too many
of us. Say we bully songbirds.
“Rats with wings!”
 
Can you spare a crumb?
Small morsel and I’ll help
your soul to Heaven.

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The muscle and fat of her songs

Once a lass craved by a lad.
 He lusted after her.

 She is cold,
 as he forces himself on her,

 He cuts out tongue,
 to stop her gab.
 Sliced by his blade, he holds it with pincers.
 Her tongue’s root quivers
 the rest lies on dark soil, writhes
 and trembles, searches
 for some sign of her.

 She weaves the fact in purple design
 on a white background, so her boss
 sees what her mutilater has done
 and moved by her rape

 molds her into a feathered thing, warm brown back, pale front, speckled with lines of dark arrows that point to her head, a tinge of golden brown on her breast, belly almost white with a few small dark spots,

 a bird who embroiders the fact of her pain in the cup of her nest,
 twigs, grass and moss, cemented
 thickly lined with mud, dung, rotten wood, mixed with leaves.

 At the start she could only
 call his name, nothing else
 in short bursts twice,
 clear and flute-like.

 She is a dirsh, thrusher,
 thirstle, throggle.

 Come icy ground she smashes
 the shells of snails
 against a favourite stone,
 picks at the foot,
 as at a swollen tongue,
 swallows the meat.

 The muscle and fat of her songs
 cure sickness and convulsions.

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blue hawk

I.

Stream and hill follow my contours. This beak is a high jut of rock.
I command the veer of rivers.
My black wing tips
are the storm’s edges.
My gyre makes the gust.

My white feathers, clouds.
Rain is the pelt of water
off my pinions and claws.
One of my eyes is the sun.
The other eye is the moon.

Gravity is my fall.
Death,my talons.
I deprive young
of their Mam and Dad.

The unwary, unwatchful,
unaware and weak
are morsels for my young
that turn in the world of my eye.

II.

I  pass

.     the dead
to my wife
.     in

flight.

.     Two rocks

.            bridged

.         by red sinew.

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Goose Summer

When a late November goose
down day, warm and dry,
becomes over years
a filmy substance
a ballooned thread,
fly fish cast into the void,
 
a winter veil
nets your face
in the garden
or down the lane,
dew bling breath
in stubbled fields,
 
a warm spell of spiders
among the ice.
 
A strange movement
of language from
goose summer
to gossamer,
as if it has lost weight,
 
under plumage,
thinned with the years
into one word,
to soft filaments,
blown on a breeze,
 
the decomposed dead,
spider thread.
 
ALTERNATIVE VERSION
 
When a plump late November goose
down day, warm and dry,
becomes over years
a filmy substance
a ballooned thread,
fly fish cast into the void,
 
a winter veil
nets your face
in the garden
or down the lane,
dew bling breath
in stubbled fields,
 
a warm spell of spiders
among the ice.
 
A strange movement
of language from
goose summer
to gossamer,
as if it has lost weight,
a cloud into contrail,
 
under plumage,
thinned with the years,
beggared
into one word,
to soft filaments,
blown on a breeze,
 
the decomposed dead,
spider thread.

NB

GOSSAMER
c. 1300, “filmy substance (actually spider threads) found in fields of stubble in late fall,” apparently from gos “goose” (see goose (n.)) + sumer “summer” (see summer (n.)). Not found in Old English. The reference might be to a fancied resemblance of the silk to goose down, or more likely it is shifted from an original sense of “late fall; Indian summer” because geese are in season then. Compare Swedish equivalent sommartrad “summer thread,” Dutch zommerdraden (plural). The German equivalent mädchensommer (literally “girls’ summer”) also has a sense of “Indian summer,” and there was a Scottish go-summer “period of summer-like weather in late autumn” (1640s, folk-etymologized as if from go). Thus the English word originally might have referred to a warm spell in autumn before being transferred to a phenomenon especially noticeable then. Compare obsolete Scottish go-summer “period of summer-like weather in late autumn.” Meaning “anything light or flimsy” is from c. 1400; as a type of gauze used for veils, 1837. The adjective sense “filmy, light as gossamer” is attested from 1802.
From online etymology site.

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