Archive for ‘The Red List of Endangered Birds’

14/05/2013

Bachman’s Warbler

 

The light of neurones formed of gold.

The light of skies beneath the lakes.

The light of memories dying out.

The light of mourning fireflies.

 

Out there, before the war forgot

To purge its nightmares from our streets,

A weightless shimmering of blood

Had stopped to drip on southern crops.

 

Its song was shackled to its fate:

Its song of falling, song of light.

Its burned with topaz in the swamps:

A voice of sunlight through the night,

 

A drop of blood which stained its loss

On leaves and lives and crosses born.

 

 

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27/04/2013

Egyptian Vulture

 

How many ways to kill our pasts?

On wings which carried deserts north

The pharaoh’s birds would soar with souls.

We clipped those wings and pinned those souls.

 

How many desolations built?

From mountain peaks to Shiva’s shrine:

We emptied every one of birds

And wondered at the silent skies.

 

How many ways to carve our guilt?

Those perfect wings, those lines of flight,

Which glide from life to life beyond.

Those messengers of ancient tombs.

 

Out of the sun there wheeled the birds:

How many ways to praise this world?

 

20/04/2013

Corncrakes (South Uist)

 

The sweetened stench of kelp in lines –

As long as reef and Viking old –

Comes tangled with lamenting seals,

With diver’s wails of freedoms edge.

 

And through that sharpened sense of sky,

Across the machair, orchid wild,

The corncrakes called and answered spring,

And sleepless summoned summer’s nights.

 

These are the worlds of ocean spray,

Of distant deeps and tangled sedge,

Of histories hidden in the sands,

Of islands on the brink of time.

 

Through scented tides they call the moon:

The corncrakes mark the passing years.

 

20/04/2013

Corncrakes (Slovenia)

 

At night the village dropped its blinds,

Its shutters closed, its curtains drawn,

And pillows piled to drown the scrape

And rake and ratchet calls of crakes.

 

The meadows sweet with flower heads,

Alive with honey bees and hay,

Cut once by hand and dried in air:

The birds could find their shelter there.

 

The echo owls call out for hours,

And nightingales let flow their stars.

The village knew their world was right:

They tended, coppiced, nurtured flight.

 

The villages knew the summer nights

Were full of corncrakes, full of life.

 

 

10/04/2013

Aquatic Warbler

 

For generations life rolled on.

The fen mire tended, grasses cut

So late the jack snipe fledged their young.

They’d hear the warblers call the moon.

 

Along with floods and moving herds,

Came armies from the east and west:

The Oder farmers watched them roll.

The sun shone on, the warblers sang.

 

And then the world began to shift –

At first came speed, then choice, then greed:

The opportunities were hewn,

The peat was burned, the fens were drained.

 

The golden warblers in the fields

Were lost amongst the teezel heads.

 

05/04/2013

Slender Billed Curlew

 

1.  They Never Do

 

In times of plenty birds would fill

The steppe-lands with their songs of spring.

Their wild and wondrous calls and cries:

Beyond the earth, they kissed the skies.

 

In times of plenty forest swamps

Would swell migration paths with wings

Across the plains and over seas,

And no one saw them as they passed.

 

In times of plenty people gorged,

Their noses closer to their floors.

They fought their wars and built their roads.

Their eyes were shut, their ears were closed.

 

And bit by bit the calling stopped:

The spring would come, the songs would not.

 

 

2.  Just One More Shot, The Final Breath

 

Retreating further through the swamps

And pine and permafrosts, alone

The hunter carves his name in bark.

A curlew calls its final dawn.

 

This stand of stumps and frozen breath

Was chosen by the spring and stars.

This place, this time, this pointless task:

Unknowing breath of man, of bird.

 

It probes its beak through frozen crust,

Its left foot quivers, head pulls back.

These movements formed in ancient times:

The last this world will ever know.

 

The hunter picks his kill and leaves

A precious feather to the breeze.

 

 

3.    Spirit Birds of Amvrakikos Gulf

 

Along the shore where the egrets pick

A flock of shadow waders roost.

The echoes of their silent calls

Are heard as ghosts amongst the stars.

 

But if you look you’ll never see

Again the birds, or hear their calls –

And no-one ever really did.

Their phantoms hug the water’s edge.

 

Your eyes have seen the taiga’s ice.

Your eyes have seen the dismal swamp.

Your eyes have seen extinction’s wing.

The curlew’s calls are deep within.

 

Their souls migrate across the gulf:

The shadow birds have lost their way.

 

 

 

04/04/2013

White Headed Duck

 

A haze has melted tracks and trees

And terraces and Moorish walls

And egrets staring into space,

In which the vultures spin like dust.

 

Below the surface of the pools,

Behind the garish skin of sky,

And deep beneath the mottled earth,

There hide the many names of pride.

 

The fountains, tiles, the mind of god,

Re-shaping seasons, draining swamps,

The petrol shimmer on the lakes,

The urge to build away the pain.

 

An absence lingers by the nests:

You lose the pride, you lose the birds.

 

04/04/2013

Hawaiian Goose

 

A lava line around the neck,

Thrust from the seabed: drops of jet.

Their lonely births are fire and rock,

Are isolated slips of blood.

 

Those eyes: the brightest black on Earth –

Whose depths we fill with shallow hopes –

Inhuman, but within each one

A loss so great it is our own.

 

These islands we behold as birds –

Too far away, too bright to know –

Perceived as wondrous specks of light

Within the ocean blank of life.

 

They stare a question from our soul:

Are we alone or are we whole?