Air Worthiness


Air Worthiness


The Harris hawk is sleek and fast; fine-boned,

she swoops free from an armoured glove

towards some distant, perfect perch,

only then to see and hear the falconer's call; to search,

then sweep down to the hand that feeds and nurtures.

A hooded hostage; in restless freedom she presents a bleeding dove.


Trimmed hawks hunt in packs on Argentine pampas,

ride invisible waves, feathers barely flicking,

muscles hardly twitching. London birds dip to wary pigeons in Eaton Square,

not to kill, you understand, but merely to scare,

'cause baronets with polished rollers don't appreciate the 'rats of the air,'

not to mention the Belgravian hauteur of hunting raptors, eyes softly ticking ...


Though never working weekends, she's getting on in years;

time has slowed her patchy wingbeats. With the dimming of her eagle eye,

she'll rely too much on sliding, slipping, failing zephyrs

for inert locomotion on arthritic wings, worse in arctic weather;

her first-strike kills less balanced now (more practice in the tether).

One day soon the falconer will wring her neck, and cry.


Such fate awaits both hunter and hunted,

sharing ironic eyries on tall West London parapets.

The great and good, some in pairs, most alone

at home in solitary splendour (the kids have flown);

their owners cradling silent avalanches of sadness, grown

of days and years chasing fleeting shadows, crushed before a weeping sunset.


Chris Hubbard,




◄ Lady Porcelain Kindness

Australia Centurion ►


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Chris Hubbard

Sat 25th Nov 2017 22:59

Hi David,

Thank you. It took a long time to knock this one into shape after I read an article about the use of Harris Hawks to 'discourage' the pigeons of Eaton Square.


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Wolfgar Miere

Sat 25th Nov 2017 09:29

Hi Chris,

When I saw the title (which is excellent) I was imagining aircraft, the opening lines soon steered me in the right direction.

I enjoyed the second stanza especially, the whole piece is gracefully written (a strange description I know) somehow the style conveys the imagery of graceful flight, how it swoops and dives.

Lovely stuff.


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Chris Hubbard

Sat 25th Nov 2017 07:56

Hi Colin,

Thanks for your comment, and the url. I have watched a pair of peregrine falcons hunting around the giant spire of St. James' Church in Louth, Lincs. for the last two years. They are breeding in the tower, and have full time CCTV surveillance. I cannot begin to understand why anyone would do anything but watch in awe. When I was there last year several photographers were trying to capture them in the stoop. Good luck there ...!


<Deleted User> (13762)

Sat 25th Nov 2017 07:41

Excellent poem Chris. Thanks for posting.

Raptor persecution in the UK is still sadly a big problem. Here's an interesting article.


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