Goldfinched, Hiram Maxim’s Grave & In the shelter of the shallows – three recent poems

Three poems recently shared on Top Tweet Tuesday. A goldfinch appears to change everything, the rattles from a mischief of magpies, perhaps, turn ominous and upstream in a city crowd.


A feathered lump of life, arriving,
changed the street within five steps, 
song bubbling out like smoke from 
the rim of a long-cool chimney.

At distance, the small shape seemed 
entirely made of sound and blurry 
silhouette, so I filled out its form 
from memory, painting in red cheeks, 

dabbing on some golden flecks, 
preparing wings to shine, contrast 
with darker tips and primaries –
a charm all by itself.

Hiram Maxim’s grave

I wonder if the magpies know 
who lies there, as they gather
round his plot this morning, 
letting rip when sharing scavenge 
news, their quick-fire flurries and 
ack-ack rattles, the natural, guttural 
sounds of outrage, or are they issuing, 
in fact, staccato halleluiahs, corvid 
salutes in bursts of black and white, 
aimed at a man who did so much 
to cut so many others down, with that 
triumph of engineering, the machine gun
–  a genuine world first.

In the shelter of the shallows

Emerging from the bookish safety
of St Martin’s Court, swept into the rapids 
surging on Charing Cross – memory’s radar 
dragged back into the open, following a period 
of introspection – I am surprised, for once, 
to enjoy a crowd, surround myself with strangers, 
faces, filling up a Saturday in Soho, like a gaudy
postcard, neon tinted retrospective, a classic 
vista from the edge of evening, though I must reach 
for Centre Point, weave north against the current,
make for the comfort rock of Foyles, upstream, 
remind myself this river’s not the same, the Dive Bar 
on Gerrard Street’s long gone, the Astoria has been 
drowned, but the weed fronds of sepia nostalgia 
don’t bind me yet – tonight, I still feel the music.

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