release

I open the door and release them
one by one

they come to the door and I watch them go
in pale December sun

and some of them are beautiful
and some of them are old
and some of them are ugly
some as cold as stone

and some of them are holy

[first posted Jan 3, 2016]

no picnic

that cloud

on the edge of the cliff

from the coastal path
like the head of the patriarch

only a flimsy thing
that soon blows over

leaving clear day
and little else of meaning

on the headland
where we leave eggshells
for the birds

and scatter

sorry
I meant to show you something special

ark

I sailed out
and not a sign of songbirds
I listened to the ocean
and its mournful sway

I have made an ark of my days
no graceful vessel
but a makeshift shelter
in which to stay 

I have made a wreck of my days
and would be done with it
but an ark is a cathedral
by another name

listen to the songbirds
in the cold grey water
songbirds perch
on the endless wave

songbirds sing
in clear blue water
gentle waters
sing for day

a murmuration of starlings

we sang harsh songs to each other
made our strange movements in the shrill

air
at last descending to low complaint
that found no forgiveness

anywhere
I would have painted grass green for you
my heart forever

scorned
now can’t paint sky without cloud
nor put sun there to offer

warmth
hard to reconcile as evening gathers in

only a child could do that
as only a child

will
the sky grows ever crazier
in bewildering

display
a murmuration of starlings that with darkness

falls away

opening

never one for dancing
it is not too late to learn a new

step
not hide in the stairwell
under a mist of concrete and chrome

only
yesterday I attended an opening
while downstairs 

blue
chrysanthemum seedlings were
preparing to yawn at light

like baby birds
yet to show true colours

3 x 13

the day is pale with frost
birds huddle together on the wire
like paid mourners

the nurse told me I had mild concussion
and let me go
thirteen stitches seemed unlucky

that was thirty-nine years ago
three times thirteen
I do the sum
I count the cost

the day is pale with frost
birds huddle together on the wire

thirteen of them

Ithaca 4

Birds play ocarinas on the roof
as I lay here and bargain with the truth,
on my island in the dazzling blue,
crickets doing whatever it is they do.

Ulysses once stood upon this shore
and tried to rouse his mariners once more,
there were no sailors left to raise a sail,
warriors grown thin and worn and pale.

Truth must have its way from time to time
and bludgeon you discreetly from behind,
I’ll deal the way I’ve always dealt with truth
while birds play ocarinas on the roof.

guillemots and herring gulls

call me from the street to play
like you used to yesterday
I have locked myself away
nothing new to say today
find me in the sitting room
sitting in the sitting room
used to be a pretty room
full of junk and old heirlooms
growing old is not worth spit
nothing works the way it did
especially the pills they give
awfully bitter pills they give
guillemots and herring gulls
have a lot more fun than us
they can peck and steal and cuss
no one ever makes a fuss
perhaps you’d only fly away
if I brought some treat your way
pretty bird don’t fly away
please don’t  ever go away
call me from the street to play
like you used to yesterday
pretty bird don’t fly away
don’t you fly away