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How to Watch a Seagull Die               Harbour

         Aches and Pains           The cowboy poet


How to Watch a Seagull Die


The parent birds must build a nest

on the brick cliffs of our chimney stack

three hundred yards from the promenade;

and the first we値l know of it will be

when two pompoms of grey fluff

land on the half roof overlooked

by the photocopier and the fax machine.


And though the mother gull

will dive at us, squawking every time

she sees us dart from car to office door,

we値l watch as spring warms into summer

and the fledglings sleep and peck and flap their way

into adulthood, growing sleek grey feathers,

discarding the fluff of their infant lives.


Eyeing us through the glass, impatiently they値l pace

the five square yards of roof, measuring by hops

and runs and wingspans, readying for take-off.

Then some fine morning, we値l arrive to find one

not asleep but huddled, less, trying again

and again to shake his fractious feathers

into place; and again. All day


while the fax machine bleeps

and the photocopier hums away

we値l watch from our side of the window

one eye on the clock, knowing that at five

we'll pull down the blinds, switch off

the photocopier and leave the office,

avoiding the eye of the waiting mother bird.



Eleanor Livingstone

published in Magma, 38, 2007






And if you should go back

to stand out there alone

salt soaked to the bone


call me then: don稚 speak,

just let my tongue taste salt

when I lick the phone.



Eleanor Livingstone

in collection, A Sampler, 2008

HappenStance, ISBN 978 1 905939 23 7





Aches and Pains


I lie awake.

You curl towards me

sound asleep, half

of two spoons. I move

a hand but can稚 reach you

find only sheet, the place

my hips should fill. I twist

and groan and grip the bed

until your sleeping knees

caress the back of mine

with knobbly tenderness.

The space between us

is still warm.



Eleanor Livingstone

published in Envoi, 136, 2003





The cowboy poet


speaks without a drawl.

He can稚 lasso his verses in

     no flick of wrist

      no quick tug at the line

even when they stray beyond his range.

Nor does he write love poems

lonesome round the campfire

                                     late at night.


During his long hours in the saddle

inspiration never keeps him company;

and after public readings to a rowdy

saloon audience of gambling men

and good time gals, he don稚 collect

                                     no spurs.


No, sir.

The cowboy poet lays it on the line

strictly for cash. He never writes free verse

but wants a large down-payment for materials;

then doesn稚 show or take your calls

for weeks. When finally he swaggers in,

he squats down on one heel, pencil

in hand, writes half a haiku, words

and messed up pages strewn around.

He needs tea by the mug-full, and eats

your last Hob Nob; moseys out to take a leak

then says he痴 low on couplets, but reckons

he might know where he can get some

cheap. He heads off west, into the sonnet

that is sunset, promising to be back

Friday at the latest or next week,

to finish off the job.



Eleanor Livingstone

published in Raindog, 13, 2007


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