First place

No more crows

I was reclined on the garden chair when the first crow came

The story went: in tragic mourning you get an uninvited crow

It’s a helpful omen

Somehow in spring we summon birds to ourselves,

in every song and each bright morning, I am reminded

The year of the crow

April to April,

one day I fancifully

Look up My Chinese animal sign, Snake.

I did this in May. I was very poor.

Snake eats crow. Dragon eats snake eats crow.

In June I had to sit for Paula Rego

in a prickly crow’s nest

Sometimes In a tutu

I imagined myself a muse

her hidden hand clutching a black chalk

I was high up and drawn in crow proportions come July

i taught myself how to papier-mâché eggs so they wouldn’t break on impact

I considered teaching that as a lesson

Defence mechanisms like alternate worlds

One mind crowds with crows quite suddenly if you allow it

If it got hot i wore black for them and sweated

Got fat in the stomach but not the chest

Thats disappointing to a crow

A terrible crow poem disguised as a t shirt poem blotted my copybook

I had half a mind to stop

I was so egg bound I had to perch over something all the time

I had you over a black crow river

At Christmas

The weight of a bottle pressed between your pocket and thigh like a wet-feathered, not dry black dog,

It was more than a crow

I tried to sit with a sad girl under a canopy of trees

The sun coming back

Where one sign said

Do not feed the birds

Gemma Lovell, Milton Keynes

Gemma LovellGemma Lovell lives and works in Milton Keynes. She has one daughter, one cat, one dog. She works as an art therapist with children as well as being an Arts and Crafts support worker for adults with learning disabilities.

This is the first poetry competition Gemma has entered. For the past 5 years she has been reading and writing poetry regularly. She will soon to be going back to university, for the third time, to study for a poetry MA in London.