Poultry in motion: a true story about a duck

A duck
Left the familiar surroundings of the pond
And the company of his fellows
To cross the road

Having not conducted a risk assessment
And lacking any capacity for reflective thought,
In the middle of the carriageway
He tucked his feet beneath him, and just sat down

A car came round the corner.
The driver saw the duck, and stopped.
The duck
Looked from left to right, and
Then from right to left
But did not move

His was not the paralysis of indecision
Nor the limb-freezing terror of imminent danger
He was just a duck sitting in the middle of the road
Entirely lacking the capacity for reflective thought

The driver looked at the duck
And the duck looked at the driver
But nothing really happened
Except that I joined the queue of traffic
Behind the driver
Behind the duck

At this point the driver bethought himself to
Move things on a bit
So he opened the car door, and got out of his vehicle
To address the duck

Such was his haste
To do the right thing, display the right attitude
Towards a duck who lacked entirely the capacity for reflective thought
Or the intention to move

That he forgot to apply his handbrake
And his car began to roll gently backwards
Down the slope
To mine

Emergency! Crash imminent!
The man spotted the danger and leapt to his car, which would not
Stop. Why should it? It was just a lump of metal on wheels, entirely in thrall
To the laws of physics which made it work in the first place

Panicking now, the man flung
Open the door, and himself across the
Drivers seat, legs sticking out as if the car had
Eaten him

Just in time
He wrenched on the handbrake and the car stopped
One inch from mine

The man climbed into the car
No eye contact with me, or the duck
And drove away

I looked at the duck and the duck
looked at me. I smiled and the duck smiled back in a shared
Moment of understanding

For we both recognized that its not just ducks, but folks
Who sometimes lack the reflective capacity to think through the consequences of their actions
To their logical conclusions.

And with that, the duck stirred his stumps
And waddled slowly back to the pond
To stick his white head under the green water
And I drove home for tea

See the man

See the man
In Trafalgar Square
Who wears no shirt

Having breath in his lungs
and a tune in his head
But no horn

He improvises with
A traffic cone
To play the ancient lament of the dispossessed

Groaning, keening, whale-song
Beautiful and absurd


Fresh every day
This Riding landscape
Never changes

From here
The mile-wide Humber
Is a silver stitch

The moon
A bright button sewn on evening’s
Blue velvet

And the wolds about us
Flowing and folded
Are waves
Breaking in geological time

Winter and summer
We walk the mile
To this companionable bench
And home


I watched a young woman
brush her hair for sleep.
Sitting cross-legged
she worked from forehead to crown
each stray wisp caught
she wound tight
rolling the band
from wrist over hand
to make a ponytail.

Done, she closed her eyes
resting her head back
against the bin
And I walked on