THREE POEMS – Joseph Birdsey


Image: Mamma Andersson, Dick Bengtsson
2015 (originally published 1983)

Joseph Birdsey is a writer and photographer who lives and works in London. He studied English at Goldsmiths, University of London, graduating in 2012. His poems have been published in ‘Myths of the Near Future’ (NAWE Young Writers’ Hub) and by The Poetry Society’s Young Poets Network. He tweets as @flaregun. Jo’s poetry can also be found in the inaugural issue of Porridge, available for purchase here.


She makes a noise
with the gristle
Of her throat

Between a cough
and a meerkat laugh

It cuts above the
Grit and whistle
And scrape of the train

Cambridge Circus

(first published in NAWE Young Writers’ Hub: Myths of the Near Future #7: Fearless)

for Twig

September had taken one last
stab at summer, and for one night
the West End filled with lilies, all
lit gold in the honey-like light.

I didn’t see it happen. No
switch flicked, quick like a little sin.
Life throbbed into you again, like
street heat under doors, seeping in.


for JMCB

When you were young,
full of youth and
glossy with beetle sheen

(or another way of looking at it would be
before you were full up
with the stresses of days,

before your back and
elastin had been pulled and
tugged on by the
stresses and the many
little weights of loss)

you knelt by your mother
by the fire
and watched in part shock
but mostly awe
as she held the broadsheet
over the lit match,
you saw there the glimmer of the first
flame lick and catch the grey page
as she tried to keep the heat in,
and as the light lapped and lapped,
and leapt up over the news
you knew, with each burning word
(Baker, Young, Birdsey)
love is not words but glances, deals,
gestures, tears, toil
and a bag full up with luck
and second chances

(or another way of looking at it would be
as a flame that
dances between your young
mother’s hands, before it
on a tiny, perfect pyre
in the middle of this four-
walled home
on the old road
between Brentwood
and Ingatestone)

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