Thirteen Birds by Mark McGuinness

Updated: Feb 2



The crows are in a flap. They swirl

like tea leaves round the tree, then furl.


*


A buzzard climbs invisible spiral stairs,

biding its time, giving itself airs.


*


Hold-hammering – what a palaver! –

Great Tit in his balaclava.


*


Like a silent film with sound,

sparrows’ jerky frames abound.


*


Magpie! Magpie! Upon your life –

where are your rings? Your pins? Your wife?


*


Glimpsed at the end of a watery lane,

where the reeds close in – a swan.


*


There’s nothing left of the jolly jackdaw

but some entrails, a wing and a claw.


*


Whenever you enter a field

the heron is landing in the next field.


*


Fillet, pullet, wallet, millet, mullet –

seagull rams it ravenously down his gullet.


*


A rook and snowman on a lawn

like a black rook and a white pawn.


*


In the hedgerow, now and then

you overlook a wren.


*


The skylark’s song unravels all day

while we below make love, make hay.


*


The blackbird and the brown blackbird:

the first word and the last word.


________________


Mark McGuinness’ poems have appeared in Magma, Oxford Poetry, The Rialto and The

Wolf. He was awarded Third Prize in the 2016 Stephen Spender Prize.

www.markmcguinness.com