Storm petrel

A pocket. A fistful
of sky in a small
lined with
water lustrated of salt.
gathering storms
under windslip wings,
a slice of
clean water, parting
miles out to sea where
oil-spills are tumbled with
algae and plastic:
gyres vast & unequivocal in their
stranglehold over tides and land –
circular, massive,
holding us fast
but you
hold steady,
pelagic (storm-driven,
waif and tendril, fluff
and beak).
Were we wise,
we might learn from you,
learn to make love at midnight,
brief and fast in the shadows
 cast by stones


the trill of a warning
sharp as the sting of a lighthouse beam

a whip
of light before the sinking:

andwe walked on water as we dreamed
beyond a horizon your shadow eclipses, and eclipses.

You scavenge for rotting flesh,
swoop and dive to tenderise the chum for your
one, fluffed chick

who knows gale-swept European islands,
and the kiss of Tunisian sands
but no language.     You know no language,

only storm.

by Aki Schilz

Happy National Poetry Day! We hope you enjoy celebrating with this poem by Aki Schilz, and if you’d like to read some more poetry today, why not check out previous Weekly Poems, which are all available from 2007 to the present? Just visit our website. And if you haven’t yet heard about our exciting new venture, ignitionpress, please visit this page to learn about our plans to publish poetry pamphlets, and the three poets Lily Blacksell, Mary Jean Chan, and Patrick James Errington in particular.

The programme for the Woodstock Poetry Festival (10-12 November) has been announced, and features readings by a host of celebrated writers, such as Douglas Dunn, Anne Stevenson, George Szirtes, and David Harsent. For more information and to book your tickets, visit the Woodstock Bookshop website.

‘Storm petrel’ is copyright © Aki Schilz, 2016. It is reprinted from Birdbook IV: Saltwater and Shore (Sidekick Books, 2016) by permission of Sidekick Books.

Notes from Sidekick Books:

Aki Schilz is a writer and editor based in London. She is co-founder of the #LossLit Twitter writing project alongside Kit Caless, and co-editor of LossLit Magazine. Her poetry, flash fiction, short stories and creative non-fiction have been published online (And Other Poems, Mnemoscape, tNY.Press, The Bohemyth, CHEAP POP, Annexe) and in print (An Unreliable Guide to LondonPopshotThe Colour of SayingKakania,Best Small Fictions 2015), and she is the winner of the inaugural Visual Verse Prize (2013) and the Bare Fiction Prize for Flash Fiction (2014). Aki works at The Literary Consultancy, where she is the Editorial Services Manager. She tweets micropoetry at @AkiSchilz , and you can read more about her work on her blog.

With this poem we continue our selection of poems from Sidekick Books’ four volumes of Birdbooks. In 2009, with two micro-compendiums under their belt, Kirsten Irving and Jon Stone, the editors at Sidekick, discussed the idea of a book of bird poetry – but one in which less well known species were on equal terms with the popular ones. There are dozens of poems about herons, eagles, ravens and nightingales, not so many about the whimbrel, the ruff, the widgeon or the hobby. Paper-cut artist Lois Cordelia was recruited to give the series its distinctive covers, and over 150 artists and illustrators were commissioned over six years to complete the series. The first volume is now in its second printing. Find out more about the Birdbook series on the Sidekick website.

Sidekick Books is a cross-disciplinary, collaborative poetry press run by Kirsten Irving and Jon Stone. Started in 2009 by the ex-communicated alchemist Dr Fulminare, the press has produced themed anthologies and team-ups on birds, video games, Japanese monsters and everything in between. Sidekick Books titles are intended as charms, codestones and sentry jammers, to be dipped into in times of unease. You can follow Sidekick’s work on the press’s website and via Twitter.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.