Poetry by Peter Mitchell

MAGPIES

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arpeggio the watery air, these morning-bell sounds

foundations for their territory.

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are a highwire act. A male, female and two young scan

summer’s map in the mid-afternoon haze.

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are air-to-earth missiles. Shrieks

distress the air, a young currawong on the ground.

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forage co-ordinates along the arc of dusk.

Their patterns sustain our Carolina Street patch.

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gray-scale through the long nights. With morning,

they are black-on-white script, poems flown from the page.

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BIRD LORE 

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Ignore what academics say.

A professor of ornithological jurisprudence thinks he’ll determine

     our relationships with birds.

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Your life’s fretwork won’t collapse if you observe birds.

Indeed, the hues of their plumage colour your life.

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Feed noisy minors ‘Lawson’s Settlers’ Grain’. It’s the bread

     with the bits in.

Don’t throw white bread onto your back lawn. Their beaks

curl in disgust.

Father magpie happily eats Lawson’s, but the new missus is finicky.

     Skittish even.

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Minors eyeball you. One lands on top of the trellis, a second on one of the stakes,

a third on the ground. All their heads turn sideways to the ground,

to the back door, to the ground: all at once, all in time as if practised.

               Where are the morsels of Lawson’s? their eyes say.

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Don’t be fooled by birds. They are opportunists; they use us. If there’s no

Lawson’s on the ground, they’ll flirt across the road to May’s

place, another source on their food matrix.

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Academics are so busy self-referencing each other,

          they don’t know they live in Birdland.

                    

Peter Mitchell

Peter Mitchell writes poetry, memoir, short fiction and literary criticism. He is the author of Conspiracy of Skin (Ginninderra Press, 2018) and The Scarlet Moment (Picaro Press, 2009). His memoir, Fragments through the Epidemic is awaiting a publisher. Conspiracy of Skin was recently awarded a Highly Commended in the Wesley Michel Wright Prize 2019.

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