“Northern (Hen) Harrier” by Len Blumin from Mill Valley, California, United States – Northern Harrier. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
a poem written in London on Sept. 26th, 2014
Sky’s signal stopped September 10th.
Three days later, Hope’s did too.
Birds of their kind hunt small mammals.
Birds of their kind are near extinction.
This plight of the birds sparked action
and the hatchlings all were tagged.
Now Sky and Hope have vanished
there’s a reward for word.
In bed after my radio-alarm clock goes off, I listen to an early morning news bulletin. Half-asleep, half-awake is a strange state in which to have the bad, ugly and feel-good filter into one’s mind. In this doze I have half-heard, half-imagined many strange things about the world’s antics. The juxtaposition of the news items can in itself be uncanny, as was the case yesterday. The opening story was the impending Westminster vote about whether or not ‘to go to war’. Later in the bulletin was the item about two rare birds of prey that have disappeared.
I take in a breath when I see magnificent birds of prey in the air. Condors, eagles and falcons soar with a self-assurance that inspires awe. I don’t think I’ve seen hen harriers; they’re found further North of London. Yet the image of sharp-winged birds of prey cut down, whether by game shooters of misfortune, struck me. (Hen harriers are on the brink of extinction due to their unsuccessful breeding rate.)
With the names ‘Sky’ and ‘Hope’, a poet couldn’t have asked for better ready-made symbolic material.
The Westminster vote, the first item of the bulletin, is scheduled to happen today (Friday, 26th Sept.). I have omitted this last line from the poem, “In cabinet they vote on war.”
The line felt too obvious. I hope the smart reader is able to join some literary dots.
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012