The birds are spies, they report to the trees


The birds don’t grant the day without sacrifice. We feed them gold bullion in place of corn. We are starving. We gift them an audience to our momentary. Tomorrow has gone, so we offer air burials as a replacement. Pull shrouds close round our necks & panic emulating the messages we have long tried to augur. Chaffinches with horizon throats debate our dedication. The crow ambassadors have found ways through the red tape but are disinclined to offer their support. Songbirds prefer frozen peas & suet to the chagrin we offer, waxwings have learned to sing fire alarms, nests pillaged with mail merged p45s & the copy & paste apologies we won’t survive ransacked from our absent desks.

We have pooled together our resources to offer carrion- all that we have to give these days – hoping they will trade their flight for our decay. We place it on fine China between cracked patios & await the flock. We are silent. Cautious. Unkempt. We are parking lots & burnt-out drive thru churches, devoid of worship. We are temporary, the only way we know how to be. The meat rots in driveways & no one disturbs the raw offerings of our bodies.

No birds show. The skies are vacant of their burden. They have reported their findings to the trees. We call it diplomacy because we daren’t call them spies. The forest. The forest has voted to entrap us in oxbow lakes of stagnant conversation. Flocks, free from the hostile architecture of our homes, delegate the task to the parliament of roads. The highway is frenzied in its touch. Too close. Too much. Too cloying. We do not know of any polite way to ask that it ceases circling us. We have protested, too long the horizon, now it is denied us. Survival is an intimate discovery. By now we know what journeys end feels like. The bureaucracy of denying our space on the gallows we build in the name of betterment. We beg a second chance of the day, but the sun sings the same song the birds do & leaves us.



Sam J Grudgings is a queer poet from Bristol shortlisted for the Outspoken Poetry Prize 2020. His work explores rehabilitation, addiction & loss via the lens of horror. His collection The Bible II is available from Verve Poetry Press