Category Archives: flight

Monikie’s Mariners

I had a pleasant donder around Monikie Reservoir with my pal Cavan this morning. Lots of interesting birds on the water just now. We spotted some redshank and heard their lonely note calls, but at this time of year it’s the large number of cormorants in from the coast that are most noticeable visitors.

Apparently in Milton’s Paradise Lost, Satan took the form of a cormorant to disguise himself in order to enter Eden. More tragically, but romantically, Norwegian mythology says that those who are lost at sea can visit their homes in the form of one of these birds.

I don’t know about that, but I suppose the well-stocked quiet waters of Monikie must seem like paradise to a cormorant – at least compared to a chilly winter gale battered coastline. Curiously when they come to Monikie they always roost together on only one of the three islands, the one on the south side of the water. And they really do roost – seeing such large birds perched high in the branches of the trees is a little unexpected.

I wrote a poem inspired by these winter visitors a few years ago. Visiting them again this morning made me make look back for a wee redraft…

Heliopause 1: Mariners

[northern hemisphere: 23.4 degrees obliquity, perihelion]

Black stroked full flaps down
over un-cast overcast naval greys,
wingtip taps reflected wingtips
a parallel rhumb line rhythm flight
ruled over inshore mirror water.

Pulling up in a clumsy prehistoric stall,
a drunken marine’s shore-bound landing
pitches the branches of this,
their February Isle.

Around again our orbit wheels
past drear and dreich northern months,
until anglers rewound cast again
from their wooden clinkers.

When longer days’ winds whistle
and fetch and chop and slop the surface.

And, filled with heat and hunger,
the cormorants quit to seek
saltier sustenance
from deeper waters,
from driven seas.

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Jail broken

‘Crow 6’ by David Ladmore. Reproduced with kind permission from the artist www.davidladmore.com

Constrained clumsiness
skitters in the corner of my eye,
irking like a bluebottle corked,
erratic flutterings meshed into
a five foot box cell silhouette.

I suppose crow smarts
finagled entrance,
then failed to find egress.
The track bears left,
I turn right to interrogate.

I twist the small door’s snib
with little further thought.
Perched on the threshold
he black eyes my framed bulk.
When I side-step, he gunnels out.

His burst plummets off-kilter,
one wing clattered perhaps
in thrashing runways at escape.
Have I just made a fast-food snack,
free to the quickest clench or bite?

I re-snib the door in stealth,
glancing late inside the cage.
Two wrecked hares gore-pecked,
half a smeary tub with water –
intentions here of some survival.

But what kind of gamekeeper
aids and abets a carrion crow?
Unkent to urban bumpkins perhaps –
a trapper’s ruse, a jig set to dance,
bait to snag a raptor’s gaze?

Walk on. Am I just a jail-bird’s patsy,
stumbling in imagined manumissions,
meat and water, caged as maybe? Still –
not half-a-second stood by unstolen,
before air was ripped apart in broken flight.

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Curlew

An echoed note bends from my
throated whisper to pipe your name.

In the morning I will see
A curlew fly with purpose, horizon
Perpendicular to the driven path.

His bill less hooked than remembered,
His flight as strong as I recall,
His ghost cry stilled in passage.

RSPB’d data beats decreasing,
Awaits a weirder silent season,
As we glance shivers when you sing.

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Swift touches

Prowling baton points
Rifling air in appetite,
Yaw sickle curves,
Feathering down
Sinewed barley scallops,
Tipping perception,
As light and sure
As questioning
Fingertips.

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MacGuffin: a self-publishing platform for fiction and poetry

Last week I had a look at a platform call MacGuffin that not-for-profit Manchester based publishers Comma Press are hosting.  Comma Press have a wide range of publishing initiatives as part of their Arts Council ‘National Portfolio Initiative‘.

MacGuffin is basically a very stripped back blogging platform offering a simple self-publishing resource for short story writers and poets. Every story or poem published on MacGuffin is presented both as a text, and as an audio recording. It’s therefore aimed, in part, at bringing together audiences that like to be read to with authors who enjoy reading aloud (I suppose there must be some people who don’t!). I think that it is ‘early days’ for the platform, which could perhaps usefully develop one or two additional features (playlists, perhaps?) without sacrificing it’s pleasingly sparse format, but it’s an interesting idea.

Schiehallion montageAs a test, I joined and added a walking poem called ‘The Fairy Hill‘ from a little while ago, extending the soundtrack to include some notes about the poem.  It was all very easy and there is lots of helpful advice about recording audio if you’re new to this. One thing I found awkward was that I couldn’t see how to link to a page with a ‘read/listen’ option for my post – this might exist, but I couldn’t find it easily, only a link to the ‘read’ page.  But instead here’s a search link that should offer both…

You can find out more about more about MacGuffin and find out how to join in here on Comma Press’s site.

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Go-around

On the crosswind leg of my circuit
I’m skirting iliotibial discomfort,
navigating my cranky knees
over the shoulders of the grey-green hill.

When at thirty-five hundred feet
the flying fish rise in silence,
wind shielded in a near gale,
until they skein by my side.

Condensing like a myth
born from Maol’s upland ocean,
in crisp naval monochromes,
three dozen barnacles bank as one.

They vee downwind southerly,
leaving me grinning like a loon.
It’s only a practice ring around,
for their pinions sing of Svalbard.

 


The Sound of Merlin

merlin

A sliding purr,
Oh yes indeed!
But no tabby here.
Rolls among Royces –
The Barry White of aerial intent.

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The title for this tiny poem came from a suggestion that I spotted by artist Ian Spicer. As soon as I saw Ian’s title, I could almost feel the unmistakable throb of a low level Spitfire pass.

May 8th is my birthday – as well as that of personal hero and national treasure David Attenborough (Many Happies!) – but more importantly May 8th 2015 is the 70th Anniversary of VE Day, and of the almost unbelievable relief of a horrifically hard won peace: let’s give thanks and remember.

I happened on this video later… a visceral addition to this post! Some language slightly NSFW, but you do have to have the sound up (preferably LOUD)…