The Madness of the Bird King

Here are the first three sections of my poem, The Madness of the Bird King, originally published with beautiful watercolour illustrations by Diana Probst.


The Bird King is mad again.

He caws
through empty midnight streets,
moulting tar-black


The Bird King’s wings:
stiff machinery
cobbled together from wire,
corrugated iron.

But the feathers are real, seasonal:

Spring: urinous, downy.
Summer: purples, scarlets.
Autumn: rust-tinged greys.
Winter: a widow’s fan.


The Bird King spends much of his time
asleep on a throne of lightbulbs,
dreaming of love.

Waiting in the wings: his retinue of electricians.

Sometimes he wakes,

His laughter breaks glass,
frightens animals.

He cackles and crackles on his electric throne.

The full version of the poem will appear in my forthcoming collection, The Death of the Bird King. Even better, get it with Diana’s colour illustrations here. You can find out more about Diana’s work here.

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