The Colour of Birds

He wrote of the field, but the field was burning. 
He wrote of the valley, but in the valley was a coalmine. 
He wrote of the river, but the river was a black canal. 
The sky was grey, and the colour of birds was grey. 
The snouts of factories breathed the air. 
On the train he read Orwell and Baudelaire. 
He wrote up to his armpits in the black water. 
He wrote from the bottom of the mine. 
He wrote in the burning field. 
And rhubarb grew in suburban gardens, 
and in the dirt beneath, every slow, 
invertebrate creature glowed its wire. 


Tim Upperton’s poetry and fiction are published or forthcoming inpoetry and fiction are published or forthcoming in AGNI (US), Bravado, Dreamcatcher (UK), Landfall, New Zealand Books, New Zealand Listener, North & South, Reconfigurations (US), Sport, Takahe, Turbine and Best New Zealand Poems 2008. He is a former poetry editor for Bravado, and tutors creative writing, travel writing and New Zealand literature at Massey University. His first poetry collection, A House On Fire, was published by Steele-Roberts in 2009.