Beautiful Creatures, Poem, Poetry

Siobhán Mc Laughlin

Ornate Ornithology

Imagine a flamboyance of flamingos,
their coral feathered tutus a sensation 
ambling by the local river
like Spanish dancers, all frills and thrills, 
pink as tropical cocktails.

Or a siege of herons as they descend 
on the sea’s edge like stealthy aircraft.
Armoured stillness as they stalk a meal
and long-legged patience virtuous, 
heads helmeted against the elements.

Picture a pride of peacocks marching
to the shimmy of their own vanity,
all sapphires and emerald eyes, 
a pageant of ostentatious beauty. 
Bejewelled show-offs that put lions to shame.

Or the thrum and hum of a murmuration 
of starlings as they swoop, swoon and soar
across the dusk, spectacle of synchronised 
sweep and dive, scatter and re-group;
whispers, being told to sky.

Or the prattle of parrots – now that 
would be fun: clatter of chatter and natter
and whistle barrage of ‘Who’s a pretty boy?’ 
over and over (and much more besides – 
especially a word that rhymes with ‘duck’.)

Though give me just a blush of robins, 
flush of colour in a winter-wearied garden, 
little heart-bleeding cheeky beggars
as they hop for crumbs, scald snow
with their flame red tums. 

And stay clear of a tidings of magpies:
one for sorrow, never another for joy. 
A conspiracy of one, shiny woeful plumage.
As for an unkindness of ravens – well –
I’ll leave them to Poe.

But best of all – watch a gulp of swallows 
as they abseil an April sky, home at last.
Blue and white trapeze flashes, freefall sassy dazzles –
as if the whole sky is their playground,
the whole day a gift they reel from.

Siobhan is a poet from the north-west of Ireland. She has a BA in English Literature and a MA in the Creative Arts. Her poems have been publishedin The Honest Ulsterman, The Ekphrastic Review, Poetry24, Quince, and forthcoming in other publications. She also loves blogging. Find her on her blog at
Twitter: @siobhan347 

2 thoughts on “Siobhán Mc Laughlin”

  1. Lovely poem from which I’ve learned some fun collective nouns for birds: a ‘blush’ of robins and a ‘gulp’ of swallows. Thank you!


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