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Birds of Paradise

One man sits in the street
and hooks his eyes on those who pass,
then whistles at them in the tongues
of not-quite-familiar birds.

Another wears black leather and a ten-gallon hat,
and shouts about the coming of the Lord
into the nightshade box hidden in his hand.
The smiling woman buying quiche and apples,

who’s kept herself in trim for Mr Right,
will go to bed tonight and slit her throat.
And I write poetry, and poetry
walks along the edge of all such things

and sometimes the temptation’s there
to step quickly over the line
into the path of what comes roaring out of the dark.
But for now I’ll start another poem,

shut behind my crimson door,
while up the street the man has found
a strange new bird of paradise,
and the Lord has come just a little closer

and a small black choir sings in the woman’s mouth,
like the sound of distant shorelines
endlessly reshaping
in the rage where land encounters the sea.
List of poems – click / tap to toggle
  • A Plate of Holes
  • Amber
  • An Old Woman Weeds a Grave
  • Auntie
  • Bees
  • Birds of Paradise
  • Bon Voyage
  • Cairo
  • Curve and Swoop
  • Duskfall
  • Fiddler's Croft
  • First Love
  • Ghostwood
  • Giuseppe
  • Grandpa's House
  • Jessica
  • Lay my Corpse
  • Milf
  • Miss Johnson
  • On Hearing that the Bees are Dying Out
  • Room of Red
  • Rosa
  • The 16A
  • The Body
  • The Carpenter’s House
  • The Child
  • The Creature by the Sea
  • The Dinner Guest
  • The Fish
  • The Ghisi Miniatures
  • The Gorgon’s Palace
  • The Iron House
  • The Iron House
  • The Nails
  • The Old Mirror
  • The Old Train
  • The Other Side
  • The Piano Tuner
  • The Shadow Garden
  • The Spinner
  • The Thorn Tree
  • The Treasure
  • The Uncles
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