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Matthew James Friday


Matthew James Friday has had over 60 poems published in many UK and worldwide magazines and journals, including, recently: The Brasilia Review (Brazil), New Contrast (South Africa), and Poetry Salzburg (Austria).  Website:

Singing Birds in the Czech Republic, China

Wake up early in Karlovy Vary
to a surprise:  the Dawn Chorus,
a daily voice from my childhood
of climbing trees, wandering woods,
holiday sun stretching into inky infinity,
unheard for several deaf years. Why?

Last two springs spent in Guangzhou,
living twenty stories high in a concrete tree.
The only birds were scraping sparrows
scavenging off balconies, splattered pavements,
little arguing tweets barely audible over
honking cars, screeching bars, pecking vendors.

In the haze-hugged parks the birdsong
piped in through recordings hidden
in shrubbery, warbling spies whispering
musical pretence. The Thought Crime
to question Nature’s digitalization –
traditional music added as anaesthetic.

Sometimes songbirds found in sealed cages
down side streets, sing-song in prison,
not enough room to open their wings,
banging bones across the rusting bars,
the percussion of the pent-up, from street
to the high rise Pent Houses, all imprisoned.

Now free of the bars I listen, drift to sleep,
wash back up to wakefulness and shudder
with sadness, a released inmate wondering,
thoughts from Czech Republic to China
back to boyhood sitting in oak trees,
singing birds.

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