Today spent at home. This morning I listened to a play back of the second part of Helen Mort’s Radio 4 series “Mother Tongue”. This one was about the poetry of things; a German poet about midges; a Chinese poet on moving house, in 6 different boxes; and a Cuban poet – usually too rude for radio, apparently – about a baker selling his bread to wives of the neighbourhood, all of which was an admirably unsubtle allusion. These were all done in translation. It was a lovely half hour to listen to.

I was lying on my couch as I listened and said to myself, when the programme finishes, I’ll write a poem about the first everyday thing that I see:

the bird feeders

four bird feeders swing on the low branches

of the magnolia outside my window

the Perspex tubes are emptied every second day

in summer and every second day I refill them


different seeds attract different birds   their own weight

pushing them down to apertures wide enough

for a beak and I wonder who tells the goldfinches

that we have niger seeds on offer again


the foliage is heavy with rain   slick green

leaves tilt and allow thin pencils of run off

in winter they turn abandoned shoe leather

or purses torn open and shaken empty


doves and mice scour the ground for what

they cant reach   an occasional jay crashes like a drunk

at the limit of his balance    and I know

I wont need to refill the feeders until tomorrow


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