Inktober…but make it poetry

A series of poems inspired by Maggie Cameron’s responses to Inktober.

The tale of Selasphorus Rufus

Descriptions of Selasaphorus Rufus
read like a wanted poster:
copper throat, longsword bill, three point five grams,
known aggressor, amazing memory.

That last part could be a mere Ant Hill Mob quirk but
it is entirely deserved, you see

even after a flight of over two thousand miles
Selasphorus Rufous will recall

the site, shape, scent of its favourite flower
and evict any who have dared to trespass

perhaps this is why it has the ill-advised status
as being a bird of least concern.

Maiden, mother, crone

Cradle feathers, plucked

to carve the brood patch

create a crown, a cape


legends of maidens, messengers,

Norse wells of purity.

Choose this song

choose this song

to be your last—

of beauty, of fearlessness,

of grace

of strength.

The thing about the Frigate bird is that its ego has a purpose

Puffed up chest
stretched tight
a red balloon
beloved of clowns
arty types with 
graffiti children on their wall
that puffed up chest	

functions	        fades		retires.

Ego 	without this attribute
festers	brews what’s bitter
bars 	the way
to 	simple joy
of puffing out	
one’s chest
here I am 	I admire you
admire 	me

let’s sing
The Victorian Crown pigeon (near threatened)

The Victorian Crown pigeon
visited Trafalgar Square
adrift from petting spots at Twycross
to make connections between soup throwers and 
road blockers and holders of signs and her own
near threatened status. 

She saw hats not as good as her own
water patches shimmering 
with the sheen of her feathers
dodges missile 	seeds and frantic feet
skirts the pointers, the gabblers, the let them eat cakers
spots the spot where she needs to make change
where diners can slurp 
on her cousins’ fair innards
for prices so easily paid. 

Targeting as a rule
is not quite her thing, and 
far from being something she’d choose
but after the losing of so many babes
there is little to do but take aim
and each single strike may well be her last, 
the one that will bring her down
but with a near threatened status
she needs more than kind words about crowns. 


thrust through waves
golden-green with lichen,
yellow-white with guano
to a pear-shaped egg, or chick
pressed hard in earth hewn shelter.

Pufflings wait
confound scavenger gulls
that circle.

this embodiment of glow
is cousin to the familiar shimmer of dark
take a second, third glance
there the halfmoon arc of precision bill
agile throat, watchful eye.

The first time my father saw a mandarin duck

was later than the first time he saw the sea

and earlier

than the first time he saw me the first time

my father saw a mandarin duck

he gasped slowed at its beauty

it’s gold shadowed eye

russet feather ruff

impossibly fine fuchsia bill (look again) he

gasped watched it zigzag the Tees

followed its path stopped still understood

he had almost invaded the nest.
The penguin cruise

guests can regale
tales of expeditions
to meet gentoo, perhaps shake a flipper
and whisper, soft to each other,
"such marvellous creatures"
"such grace off the land"
then waddle back to the boat

eat their tea.
Krill populations have declined by 80% since the 1970s
The superb fairy wren sings to its egg

so the chick
with its particular song
to be used as a warning,
courting song,
and soon to the nest
of its own.
A peacock feather lives in a cup that bears your name

If you only saw the underside, 
in this pale half-light
you would see just raggedness, broken tips.
Only the spine, the barbed shaft, 
Your watcher’s breath 
moves in close, creates movement. 
Your slowed mind 
remembers you can turn it
(and you always knew you could)
There. The eye, 
that belongs with one hundred and seventy-five others
to form a train of texture, shimmer, azure ocean, turning leaf—
You run your hands over and over
try to imagine it whole. 

Woman feeding chickens

We are women, feeding
of blissful domesticity, 
of needing artifice to be.

In this grain
we hide our will
to walk, 
to reach 
the place
where will sing discordant song, 
where we will whistle uselessly, 
where we will crow
 and cackle. 
We’ll scratch our truth, 
re-feather wings, and feed just as we please. 
We are women, feeding chickens, 
we are here
take heed.