Beautiful Creatures, Poem, Poetry

Siobhán Mc Laughlin

Ornate Ornithology

Imagine a flamboyance of flamingos,
their coral feathered tutus a sensation 
ambling by the local river
like Spanish dancers, all frills and thrills, 
pink as tropical cocktails.

Or a siege of herons as they descend 
on the sea’s edge like stealthy aircraft.
Armoured stillness as they stalk a meal
and long-legged patience virtuous, 
heads helmeted against the elements.

Picture a pride of peacocks marching
to the shimmy of their own vanity,
all sapphires and emerald eyes, 
a pageant of ostentatious beauty. 
Bejewelled show-offs that put lions to shame.

Or the thrum and hum of a murmuration 
of starlings as they swoop, swoon and soar
across the dusk, spectacle of synchronised 
sweep and dive, scatter and re-group;
whispers, being told to sky.

Or the prattle of parrots – now that 
would be fun: clatter of chatter and natter
and whistle barrage of ‘Who’s a pretty boy?’ 
over and over (and much more besides – 
especially a word that rhymes with ‘duck’.)

Though give me just a blush of robins, 
flush of colour in a winter-wearied garden, 
little heart-bleeding cheeky beggars
as they hop for crumbs, scald snow
with their flame red tums. 

And stay clear of a tidings of magpies:
one for sorrow, never another for joy. 
A conspiracy of one, shiny woeful plumage.
As for an unkindness of ravens – well –
I’ll leave them to Poe.

But best of all – watch a gulp of swallows 
as they abseil an April sky, home at last.
Blue and white trapeze flashes, freefall sassy dazzles –
as if the whole sky is their playground,
the whole day a gift they reel from.

Siobhan is a poet from the north-west of Ireland. She has a BA in English Literature and a MA in the Creative Arts. Her poems have been publishedin The Honest Ulsterman, The Ekphrastic Review, Poetry24, Quince, and forthcoming in other publications. She also loves blogging. Find her on her blog at
Twitter: @siobhan347 

Beautiful Creatures, Poem, Poetry

Linda Goulden


I heard you on the hill:
that reeking call
of lust or hunger
that will fill a valley up.

I knew where you had been:
across the cut, raiding
the reed edge, or digging
the last rabbit out.

I watched your children:
snub-nosed, at the water-side,
playing land games
of bite and fight.

And, once, you looked
me in the eye, holding
my gaze until we turned,
each to her own side of it.

Today, my neighbour,
digging the bank,
beside the brook,
uncovered you.

How small, your bones.

Linda Goulden is a poet based in Derbyshire between a canal and a river. Her pamphlet ‘Speaking parts’ is published by Half Moon Books. Other poems have appeared in magazines, anthologies, among trees at Grinlow and Dove Stone and in the repertoire of Whaley Bridge Choir.

Beautiful Creatures, Poem, Poetry

Ruth Taaffe


Squat like a knot of dark
upon dark at the edge of dusk.
Folded blades of downed chopper
landed mound of bark and leaves.
Your snake eye opens up like a moon
glassing the night. Bug-eater
lacking fangs to pierce
the nocturne skin
only your baleen beak
sifting plankton from the sky
flat as an unsent valentine.
You shoot soft tuts of fireworks
cluck up Morse code.
Heart monitor for the forest
it was told that you stole milk from goats
but you preserve such sweetness, Chupacabra.
Open wide let the world pour its song
back into your throat.

Ruth Taaffe is from Manchester, UK, and currently lives and works in Singapore as an English teacher. She is taking an MA in Creative Writing with Lancaster University. Some of her poems have been published in the online journals Creative Writing InkNine Muses, The Poetry Village, Allegro and in print in Acumen and Poetry Birmingham.

Beautiful Creatures, Poem, Poetry

Nick Allen


 in the field that starts where woodland ends
 five megalithic beasts stand their great stone feet

 in the dew     waiting for the sun to shorten
 their shapes    three are the colour of stout two

 a deep nut ale     flanks twitch as if something
 wakes within     nostrils snort alive against

 a blue sky    small clouds that carry themselves
 to a silver dollar moon hanging cold above

Nick’s first collection the riding and his pamphlet the necessary line were published by Half Moon Books, Otley. His recent collaboration with York based artist Myles Linley, between two rivers, was published by Maytree Press, Marsden. 
He helps organise Rhubarb at the Triangle, a spoken word evening in Shipley, West Yorkshire.
Beautiful Creatures, Poem, Poetry

Hannah Stone

Cranford Cat

My cat pays visits in the afternoon,
like Cranford ladies after too much parsnip wine.
She carries confusion like a bonnet in a reticule,
the draggled hem of her tail is embroidered
with seeds and dead flower-heads.
I fear it is not courtesy that prompts her to rise
after half an hour, and seek the door,
regardless of how inclement the weather,
but some instinct, fluttering like a small bird,
and so it is, just hours
before I ask the vet for her quietus,
that I find her spread beneath the hedge
chilled by pouring rain,
her black fur peaked in startled punk clumps,
rheumy eyes wary about that invitation to stay alive.

Hannah Stone has published four solo collections, most recently the inaugural Maytree Press volume, Swn y Morloi. She convenes the poets/composers forum for the Leeds Leider festival, hosts Nowt but Verse for Leeds Library, and is poet-theologian in virtual residence for the Leeds Church Institute, writing weekly blogs exploring contemporary events through the medium of poetry. Fit to Bust, her most recent collaboration (with Pamela Scobie) is published by Runcible Spoon Press.