This bird

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Look at this thing, this gruesome thing, this shake-off from the slick.

A car mechanic’s rag, a bag of bile, a doodling hand that drags

a biro clot of crudeness up the beach.

This foul-up. This bird. This broken component of our world.

Then look at that: a flesh gorged kite, circling

while cluster bombs slake a starving nation’s soil.

America’s pin puckered vein, the fight for the right

to the route of a pipe to the wealth of the Caspian Sea.

My subject is oil and the pity of oil. The stain

ingrained, the gold that taints men’s souls and snags

the purring world, that shags the cogs, that brains

the birds against the rocks, that chokes and gags,

that plumbs the wells of wanting, and the plain

evil of the needle and the drug.


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Tim Ellis

Wed 2nd Dec 2015 12:41

Thanks Steve. I'd set myself a target of writing 50 sonnets about birds in 2001, one every week as a light, whimsical celebration of nature. Then 9/11 happened, and the whole tone of the book changed...

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steve pottinger

Tue 1st Dec 2015 18:34

I really like this poem, Tim. Must have read it three or four times today, and each time I find something new. Cracking.

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Tim Ellis

Tue 1st Dec 2015 13:06

Another poem from my pamphlet "Speak The Unspeakable", although I first published it in my first collection "Birds of the World in Colour". Written in 2001 or early 2002 it's an expression of anger when Britain and the US invaded Afghanistan and it first dawned on me how the world's reliance on fossil fuels is driving conflict and destroying not only nature, but the lives of some of the world's poorest people.

Speak The Unspeakable is now on the final day of a free promotion on Kindle.

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