I can’t say I ever appreciated starlings much before I discovered that Mozart kept one as a pet for three years. My impression of starlings was formed by the experience of having multitudes of them descend on Rome in autumn behaving like a million drunken football fans.
Their formation flying is pretty impressive, you can’t deny that. They soar up high in the sky and fill it like an aerobatics team with a thousand jets . They expand, contract, make sharp turns, ascend, descend, branch out, regroup. You can’t predict what they will do. It resembles a frenzied motor-driven kaleidoscope with just one colour: black.
The problem is when they come down and settle on a couple of trees. Settle is the wrong word. The collective noun for starlings is a “murmuration” but whoever invented that was deaf or was in bed, half-drunk, with a cushion on his head and the starlings were five miles away when he heard them. I would suggest “obstreperation”, “altercation”, “stridulation” or “riotation”. They don’t settle on trees, there are always countless numbers swarming around them in a state of great excitement shrieking and shitting on everything. I have always wondered whether they are shitting because they are excited or whether they are excited because they are shitting. Read more…
My craft is not just shining shoes.
Look all around you. See the queues
of people lining up to see
the sky this morning. It was me
gave it a blueshine after dawn—
my signature’s there on the lawn.
I shined the tower, I shined the clock.
I shined the church, I shined the flock.
Now they’ve got haloes round their hair
which pick up broadcasts in the air
and wait behind them when they bow.
The grocer’s wares are finer now
I’ve luminised his fruit and veg.
And see that blackbird on the hedge?
—I gave its beak that brassy tone
and now it sings the saxophone. Read more…
The train for Kandy leaves Colombo Fort
just as the morning heat begins to swell.
Inside the observation car the rusty fans
begin to turn and tilt. We watch the platform
where we stood for one, two quarters
of an hour slide off our moving stage.
And now we’re ready for the world
to come by and perform for us. Read more…