If Wishes Were Horses (Shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize)

Whatever you bloody well say

I will have a jackdaw for a pet,

blackest black right through to its heart.

I will circle its neck with a shining collar

barbed with sharpened spikes

and call it Odin or Beowulf.

With its evil white eye and ice-pick beak,

imaginary thumbs flexing imaginary braces,

it will perch on my shoulder

pleating creaky origami wings

under my chin.

How shall I capture this wild thing

and make it my own?

Shall I catch it stealthily

by dropping a net from a tree?

Shall I tempt it with exotic food and pretty words?

Shall I make it promises I cannot keep

or hypnotise it with my eyes?

And when he’s finally mine

and he stays out all night

with his flighty mates who lead him astray

with their raucous laughter, smutty jokes

and brazen infidelities,

shall I sulk then and throw dishes

at his smoky grey head

and wish he were just dull and faithful

with an anorak and a steady job?