Jonathan Livingston, George Barker, Chekhov,
Fish and chips, snatched sandwiches, a certain
Stink of half-remembered, half-digested fish,
We’ve got ’em bang to rights, the noisy screamers
And harbingers of our oceanic discontent.

Forgetting how huge they are is one thing; worse
Is forgetting how gull they are, how unlike
Anything else in the many wild kingdoms we
Pompously incline to regard as our home despite
The anarchy of mosquito, buzzard, lynx.

A bald head endangered among rocks, scrabbling
Claws spread to meet the gust, there is nothing
Romantic about this unseasoned life, bare feed
And guano, profitless, enduring, cold
As midnight, we think, is cold; but always cold.

In moments we are gull, instances of dream,
Flapping from the black precipice, swooning
In the down-draught, knowing no knowledge
Except the squawking mouths, the endless need
Unburied for a second in cowl of black and grey.

[‘Punter does for gull what Hughes has done for crow, but more concisely’, Cian Murphy]

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