Another very short bird poem to finish this day. This was written at HMP Hollesley Bay which where I spent several months in “Open” conditions prior to being classed as a “flight risk” and taken to Wandsworth, the waste pipe of the western world, to quote from another of my poems. I used to have to get my lunch every morning from the kitchens – a lunch which consisted of a peanut butter sandwich (on brown bread if I was lucky), a bag of crisps and an apple. I’d then get on a prison bus at 0800 to be taken to the charity shop at Bungay where I worked – a journey that could take one hour forty-five minutes at worst. Some days I ended up with 5 hours work for 3.5 hours of travel, but it was so important to be doing something useful. One day, on my way to the kitchens I found a greater spotted woodpecker by the side of the road which had been hit by a car. Hence this poem.


There, by the footpath, he lay

Struck by a vehicle in the early morning

Perhaps as that perfect day was dawning

Beyond the daffodils and snowy drops

Displayed, to the world, his bright red head

On a beautiful body, whole but dead

One less maker of that sweetest sound

One less beater of nature’s drum

Replaced (we hope they will come)

By a younger generation

Who will tap the rhythm of their strange Morse code

At the side of this winding, risingroad

But, days later, none could be found

And sadly, none was even heard

That black and white, crimson-headed bird

Never to be seen here again?

A species, in this place, forever lost

Would be, to us, an unmeasurable cost

So as you drive through these woods, take care

For an innocent woodpecker may linger

Be not an abuser of beautiful birds, nor, of death, the bringer

Drive softly for all our nature’s sakes

Listen, as you pass, to the creatures

That, of this place, are its audible features