Open Competition 2021 Third Prize

Psittacula Krameri

As these stories go, theirs is a good one.
Bogart and his waspish Katharine
re-creating the war-torn river Nile
in humdrum Middlesex in 1951.
The parakeets brought in to set the scene,
escaping into urban London smog.
Surviving Northern climes in royal parks,
exotic incomers who dared to thrive and breed.

But I prefer to think of Jimi,
cosily coupled-up in modish Mayfair
among his bongs, LPs and Afghan rugs,
dressed in his Portobello finery,
all paisley shirts, silk scarves and epaulettes.

After another night of shredding air
and sensing his time on Earth would be too brief,
the Voodoo Child releasing his companions onto Carnaby
to fly free all along the watch-towers,
buzzing the queuing taxi-cabs of Soho,
screeching his name into the freezing wind,
soaring high above the crosstown traffic,
watching the lights change, one-by-one, to green.

Justine Knowles