One time, their duelling flutes
failed as a mutual deterrent,
and they were at each other's throats,
our garden blackbird and his deadly rival,
black on black, a flurry of feathers, the stab,
the slash of tiny dinosaur claws.
Afterwards, the victor sat in the holly tree,
looking shattered, beak hanging open like scissors,
though whether he was our champion, our dark prince,
or the blackhearted blackguard from elsewhere,
we simply couldn't say.
Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared in magazines including Acumen, Ambit, The Interpreter’s House, Magma, The Rialto and Stand. His collections are This Patter of Traces (Oversteps Books, 2014) and Mapping (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).