Archive for December, 2011

Listening to Bird Song

Posted in Poetry with tags , on December 29, 2011 by belfastdavid

Not just the common ones,
the songs that we all know –
a mallard duck which quacks,
the crow – it caws, tawny owls
that hoot – tu-wit, tu-woo.
A pigeon coos, the herring gull
delights in screaming raucously.
The cuckoo sings his name.

But there are others, common too,
whose songs, if I can train my ears,
are separate, distinct;
the robin, thin and soft;
I might see him
especially if I wear red.
A wren, from around knee-high,
loud and with a trill,
a dunnock, burbling
from deep in the bushes,
and, of course, long-tailed tits;
I can hear them from out my window
as they arrive, mob-handed,
in the tree outside and chatter.

I will take a picture if I can
but mostly I will listen,
for I want to learn
to listen,
to listen to bird song.

This poem owes everything to Simon Barnes. It was his book – ‘Birdwatching with your eyes closed’ which inspired me to listen in the first place.


Some Silly Verse

Posted in Poetry on December 24, 2011 by belfastdavid


Today I saw a little worm
wriggling on his belly.
Perhaps he’d like to come inside
and see what’s on the telly.

Spike Milligan

Celia Celia

When I am sad and weary
When I think all hope has gone
When I walk along High Holborn
I think of you with nothing on.

Adrian Mitchell


As she bent down, to retrieve
her underwear from the machine,
it became apparent she had put
all her knickers in the wash.

David Agnew

Happy Christmas everyone.


Posted in Poetry with tags , , on December 20, 2011 by belfastdavid

It is a long time
since I have stood
outside a pub
fifteen minutes before
opening time
waiting, waiting.

But this time,
I am waiting
for a poetry event,
for friends to arrive,
for a cup of coffee;
waiting, not craving

as I used to do
when it was alcohol
I was craving:
two hands around
a pint glass
to still the shaking.

Such a relief
when corner shops
got licensed
to sell alcohol.
No more waiting
except  in the small hours.

A newspaper,
a packet of fags
and a bottle of scotch
because I am waiting
for visitors to call later

I would say,

dressed in a duffel coat
over my pyjamas
and a sweater;
unwashed, unshaven,
waiting – waiting
outside the shop.

There is a Stillness in the City

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on December 14, 2011 by belfastdavid

Greyness dulls the sounds
which would normally define
my Sunday morning.

I lean out my window,
drink a coffee,
smoke a cigarette,
contribute to the gloom.

A young woman with a pony-tail
appears, disappears,
jogging through the mist.
I wonder what benefit
she hopes to gain from breathing in polluted air.

I answer my phone; did not mean to – just did. Why on earth do bloody salesmen cold-call me on a Sunday morning – I am not remotely interested in anything they have to say – resist the temptation to tell him to fuck off – replace the phone firmly and remind myself that I have an answering service – if I don’t pick up, my own voice will invite you to leave a message .Friends will leave a message, salesmen never do. I have a friend who, on certain occasions, would rather talk to my answering machine than directly to me – she knows she can talk to it without fear of interruption, censure or rebuke – this is not a call for help on her part, rather just the opportunity to rant out loud.

She calls to see me today,
needing more than
an answering machine
or a telephone call can provide.

We sit together,
side by side,
take comfort
in the peace,
the stillness
of Sunday morning
in the city.

Bird Song

Posted in Poetry with tags on December 11, 2011 by belfastdavid

She woke early,
not yet ready
to begin the journey
into waking.

The birds are planning
their day excitedly
out there
she thought,
sent me a text to tell me that,
turned over,
went back to sleep.

When I turned on my phone,
sometime later,
I felt like I’d been kissed.

Dear British Telecom

Posted in Poetry with tags , on December 8, 2011 by belfastdavid

You will be aware, I am certain,
of the extortionate amount
you charge me every month
in order that I can have
my telephone, my internet and my TV
all through one source.

Given that this service
has now been out of action
for eight days, and given
that, had you asked,
I could have told you
where the problem was –
in that green box outside
my house with the doors
swinging open and the wires exposed:
but you never asked;

just referred me to your web site
which tells me that the problem
is somewhere just outside my house
(I could have told you that)

And given that so far
this disruption has cost me
five football matches,
an invitation to a poetry event
and an enquiry about
the possibility of a shag,

I trust that, when
you eventually restore
the service, you will
be adding a substantial
rebate to my bill.
Yours sincerely (but not best wishes)