Paul Green – 3 poems



Sometimes, I cannot sleep – too busy opening

the cages of the trapped birds fidgeting on a perch before

they bolt out of an open door.


Where do they go?

There are rows and rows of cages and my fingers

are too inarticulate

to complete the endless task whilst fumbling the latch

of my own cage.


When I wake,

there is a mountain to my back and a stippled shore

to the fore, diving white birds; out of signal

range, off the page, all things made of kindling,

indifferent to the sour smell of kelp, becoming

an otter’s skirmish

and the salt-cure of waves condensing into squawking.

I will not climb the mountain’s curtain but

save the intimacy of the sea’s

equilibrium. I will be the bubble

inside the spirit level, both seeing

and sawing. If I am lucky, I will

untie the fisherman’s knots in driftwood

grain, there will be enough wood to cage

the flames of a small fire,


enough of a thermal to rise

amongst the birds and dive.

I, fearing water and heights,

leaving a trail of bubbles behind.



Berwick’s swans overheard


We are an out-stretched promise

to migration

from the skies’ argent fall,

leavened by first snow dissolving

in the fetch

of shallow lakes.

Each wingbeat melts

ever farther from frozen arctic

tundra, like a willowed


Each feather marvels

an alchemist’s sublimation

from the White Sea

until we blare out the melded

by-product of our Baltic ancestry.

And now, we are slipping

into the meltwater of your tiny islands,

flocks abandoning the borders

of your salvation legend.

The compass of our yellow and black bills reads

an inescapable confession

to a dwindling instinct.



Tiger balm


The Living Dead, they call the animals on the verge

of extinction, but the label on the cage just maps you

as rare and dangerous: the worst

of back-and-forth marriages, an impossible bridge

that leaves you always turning between the two,

when, being dead already, you could simply slink

through soffits into comics. It is safer padding

the consolation between the eye’s scratching posts:

no need to police the mesh for the plundering

of your gilded layers, for being butchered apart,

ring by ring, so that we may reach inside the dark

crevasses for the bones and penis apothecary

of colourful carton bearing a blurred depiction.

I turn the page back to the comet in a cage, bloodless

as Blake at nightfall. As I rub you into my skin,

you are replaced with symbol, myth, mascot.


Paul Green lives in Lancashire, England. His poetry and stories explore our relationship with the natural world and have recently appeared in The Fiction Pool, Orbis, Tears in the Fence, The Wild Word, Words for the Wild, and other journals. He was nominated for Best of the Net during 2020.