Excerpt from The Death of the Bird King

Here is a little taster of the long poem, The Death of the Bird King, that features in my forthcoming collection of the same name

V. The City of Granite and Glass

Factory chimneys
poison clouds.

Grumbling trains,
screeching steel,
a taste of rust on the air.

The Bird King loves his homeland!

He builds a nest
out of galvanised steel
and animal bones,
lines it with bin-bags,
clambers in,
curls up.

From the clouds
he looks like
a prawn.


The Bird King builds the tiny machines
that infest the city.

In daylight their carapaces disguise them
as crisp packets, bottles, detritus.

But when the light fades their cases open
like flowers
and they scuttle through the streets,
up drainpipes.

They feast on the sick and elderly.

At dawn they throw themselves back into the streets,
withdraw into their tortoiseshell world,
let the dusty wind
sweep them away.

Shrieks and sobs of discovery follow.

Interlude: Love

Tiring of his dalliance with the radiator,
the Bird King woos an armchair.

She’s amply upholstered
and groans dreamily
when he sits on her.

VI. The Bird King Dreams of Flight

Botched wings flex

the Bird

An avid beak stabs air,

targets the mountains
beyond the broken city.

His first flight!

He screeches in triumph,
harrows the skies.

Clouds form
about his

fizzing with lightning.

When he finally alights on a jagged peak,
he looks down
at creation.

The feeling of God.

He’s omnipotent.

Yellow eyes glaze with joy.

Interlude: Shadow

The Bird King looks at his throne and sees DEATH.
His nest: DEATH.
His city, his people, his kingdom: DEATH, DEATH, DEATH.

All texts on this site are the copyright of James Knight. All rights reserved

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