Bird Brain

Her brain is a riot of knapweed
on which twittering finches feed,
keeping her awake at night
and drowning out each thought
when she rises. She longs to see
a chestnut or a walnut tree
with broad crown and dangling fruit,
or bushes of plump blackberries, but
she cannot leave these walls,
cannot stretch her wings or fly at all.

Once they’ve fledged, a mother puffin
cannot be recognised by her young.
Although the faces are familiar,
the names of her children escape her,
words in a flock, taking wing disturbed,
pouring from the sky like wheeling birds.
She becomes a tawny owl at twilight,
to-witting throughout the night,
unaware that she has bid adieu
to the satisfying echo of to-woo.

Kim M. Russell, 10th September 2019

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My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: Making much of madness

This Tuesday we are making much of madness with Laura, who says that the milieu of poetry is often associated with the seeming liberation from cognitive, emotional and behavioural norms. She turns our attention to poets who write of madness second-hand, or were induced to write, by their own neuroses, psychosis, or bi-polar nature, and she shares poems by Sasha Dugdale, Elizabeth Bartlett and John Clare, as well as one of her own.

Laura asks us to write, in first or third person, a poem about our own experiences or about witnessing mental health issues; alternatively, we can base it on a poem which depicts madness.

24 thoughts on “Bird Brain

    1. Thank you, Toni. My grandfather mistook me for his sister, but my mother, although she never used my name, did know that she was my mother. I’m tearful now as I remember her face breaking into the most beautiful smile whenever I visited.


  1. Terrific, very powerful allegory, and a frightful peek into the morass of madness. I described dementia as well in my piece, and several of the other guises madness uses.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A fine close eye for the nettles and crazings which fret the bird brain, an envervated distraction ever about to take wing. Not the soaring vulture of depression or the suicide’s solving leap but still tearing the fabric of the everyday, a “riot of knapweed / on which twittering finches feed, / keeping her awake at night / and drowning out each thought / when she rises. As I re read its madder and more complex, a molting in language of a solitary eye pecking crow.

    Liked by 1 person

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