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After Helen Macdonald

Introducing a new series of poems by Julian Matthews. Julian is a writer and Pushcart-nominated poet published in The American Journal of Poetry, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Borderless Journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Dream Catcher Magazine,  Live Encounters Magazine, Lothlorien Poetry Journal and The New Verse News, among others. He is a mixed-race minority from Malaysia and lived in Ipoh for seven years. Currently based in Petaling Jaya, he is a media trainer and consultant for senior management of multinationals on Effective Media Relations, Social Media and Crisis Communications. He was formerly a journalist with The Star and Nikkei Business Publications Inc


By Julian Matthews

I read about how some migratory birds,
crossing vast oceans non-stop, can catch sleep in mid-flight

Just snatches here and there, and only at night
Sometimes, with one eye open to prevent collisions

Isn’t that how many of us lead our lives?

Under pressure
Trusting the wind to carry us
Letting the air catch our breaths

Maybe, we just need to land and rest a bit

I left the sky because your blue was overwhelming
Yet, I still hear your cawing in the distance
this constant pecking for mealworms under bark
these incessant, annoying tweets on my shoulder
this furious fluttering, poking at my eyes,
sucking my tears up like nectar

I am my own prey now
I tuck my head under my own broken wings
and let these talons dig deep into this unworthy flesh

I am evolving, flightless
I’m more earthed now, a groundling
I’d rather crawl into my own skin than feather this empty nest

Yet, you say, it was always about me. I say, maybe
Happiness is a selfish thing with strings attached
You give in and give in, in order to receive
They take and take and take until we both break

Some gifts are better left unwrapped

They are flying lessons in paper planes
We rise and fall, crash and burn
You fight the flow then eventually learn to let go
Truth, yours and mine, like currents can part in separate

Acts of faith can’t be taught, they come late in flight

Being selfless doesn’t come naturally to me
I need to find solace in other lost souls first
Only those who seek will be found, they say
But even amateurs can be profound

It may be a while before I can rise above it all,
go high, crest the night sky, shut both eyes
and trust the wind again

Perhaps, I’ll meet you there
on mended wings

and a final whispered prayer

First published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, USA, edited by Strider Marcus Jones

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