An overwhelming response to our October Pick of the Month vote sees Amy Rafferty’s ‘Here Come the Crows’ as the ultimate winner.  This beautiful, moving ‘ethereal and yet beautifully observed’ poem both spoke to the times we are living in and was timeless, captured a West Glasgow moment but explored the universality of sleeplessness.

Amy is a writer, photographer and musician based in Glasgow. Her writing has been published in Magma, Envoi, the Interpreter’s House and From Glasgow to Saturn.


Here Come the Crows

I drew a sudden dark line under it all.
and with the fulsome flourish of a full stop dot.
Knowing that this was not what I wanted:
the rows of chimney pots, red-rouged and boring
in the dreich, mossed and encroaching in sombre lines.
The antennae and the satellite dish,
mournful and grey faced,
desperate to spill the beans of bad news and scandal.

I ignored it all, and ploughed on regardless,
watching the neighbours’ windows for inspiration,
waiting for the curtains to rise or the blinds to roll,
a patchwork of frosted tiles diminishing as sun rises behind buildings,
the shadow of the cloistered tower sliding slowly down the roof.

And with these words you now have the tools to orient yourself within the poem,
to settle down with a cup of tea,
and wait for the tropes to arrive, uninvited and well worn;
here come the magpies,
here come the crows,
that speak of dead fathers and family heroes
The seagulls, who glide and circle through the ghost smoke,
heralding rain,
the offspring of the offspring of the offspring
of those before them, who bore witness to my childhood days
and my insomnia, staring into the endless grey window of mornings.



Other voters’ comments included:

Absolutely magical. Gave me goosebumps 

I vote for this as it has beautiful imagery of my own neighbourhood as I read I can almost hear The Blue Nike play in the background 💙 

I love the way the scene is set for the inspiration to arrive. It seems to glide in effortlessly. 

The unusual metre, imagery and narrative work together to build a hugely evocative poem 

c’est très bien. j’aime l’imagination.

Because it made me cry and reminded me of my late gran. Because it is beautiful. 

As an insomniac, Amy’s poem resonates with me for so many reasons…I got lost in the language and reminisced on many of my own sleepless nights, both past and more current. 

There is a dark unsettling beauty in her words. A cinematic view of an innocuous moment in time. 

It was very moving with beautiful touches of humour…unusual clever use of language too 

I find this piece profound yet familiar. 

Wee Amy’s poem is beautiful and full of emotion mixed with gentle humour..poignant and wonderful use of dialect. Deserves full recognition. 

I love its urban melancholy, its deft meter and birds-eye mournfulness of environment, the astute reminder of life’s reincarnated repetitiveness. 

A beautiful, sad, dystopian poem for today, with just a nod of wry humour and self-knowledge. 

I love the Valkyrie drama and double meaning of the ‘Here come the crows section’. The ‘ghost smoke’ is a wonderfully evocative phrase, and I am lead into a rich mental landscape. 

I got goosebumps, my body never lies.

A powerful poem, filled full of imagery which enables us to connect, relate and query what is unfolding within strongly structured line breaks and a captivating pace. 

It invokes a feeling and imagery that few pieces of prose have managed in my adult life. Left me feeling haunted, elated and, oddly curious. 

liked the rhythm as I read it, and the use of colours/shades to set the moods.

Use of language incorporating Scottish words. Drew a picture of the West End of Glasgow skyline, conveyed the emotion and mood powerfully. 

Depicts life viewed from a tenement window in these times. Initial anxiety soothed by a cuppa…and breathe. 

Breaks the fourth wall, and brings us into the poem in a very fresh way 

There was a lot to entice the reader across a few of these poems but ‘Here Comes the Crows’ had a jangling sense of the timeless and dehumanising quality of sleeplessness, which gave the poem real character. 

It speaks of the moment. We’re all locked down, looking out of the window, searching for inspiration in dark days, and remembering. 

Perfectly ‘Dreich’. 

Not an easy choice as they’re all good, but I like to ‘hear’ poems in a live setting and so each one got recited, first in my head and then out loud. This one I can hear out loud. That’s it. 

I love the specific physicality of the poet’s view through her windows, the mood that establishes, juxtaposed with the ghostly birds, bearing witness. And how the generations of birds suggest a timeline going eternally into the past and the future. 

This is a very clever poem, with its post-modern consciousness of being a poem. But it’s also very atmospheric, with its evocative descriptions of urban landscape. Most of all, it’s touching. We’ve all had those melancholy moments and it sums them up brilliantly. 

There’s a real power in the images here, along with a sense of meta-poetic examination (the bird tropes! we’ve all written them). Whether or not it ‘speaks to’ our present moment of lockdown intentionally or not, it resonates…