Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2010

The accidental gifts of birds

by John Keenan

Autumn went out like a bedroom light
When you upped sticks and left the nest.
The accidental gifts of birds were gone,
Feathers on paths, books on the toilet floor.
The little Chinese characters printed each day
By wagtails’ hopping feet in the muddy margin
Of our path faded away leaving
A blank absence like an empty bed.
The jigs and reels of summer that had hung
Bright in branches like laughter from upstairs
Or dirty washing tossed on banisters
Must now be packed away in laundry bags
Which, we pray, will be brought back
Again and again, sweet sweat scented springs.

Added: 29.04.2010

Judges' comments on this poem


I loved this bleak poem that captured so poignantly how harsh life seems to us when a loved one departs from it, for whatever reason.


This was my favourite. Would read better though with a different word for one of the 'paths'.


Liked the sustained metaphor and interweaving of imagery.