This is the first of a number of poems I wrote while working in restaurant kitchens in Cornwall, and hallucinating from sleep deprivation. They were scribbled down in a plastic-coated notebook filled with recipes and cooking notes.
Head chefs always told me to never write down recipes unless I’d cooked them myself and knew they worked. I suppose the same should be said for poems, here it is anyway...
See the jackdaws by the castle,
Like ancient chess knights in black,
Peering across the stones they have guarded,
Since the time of Camelot way back.
And if you are searching for King Arthur,
And think Excalibur’s just well hid,
Then have a look in the village gift shop,
Because there’s a plastic one for each kid.
And if it’s Avalon you’re really after,
And your quest is to find the Grail,
Then read all about it in the village gift shop,
But only the jackdaws know the tale.
Because they were here when the walls were scarlet,
With the blood of a thousand knights,
And gouged and gorged as the dead lay dying,
Scattered over the rocks after every fight.
So if you are searching for King Arthur,
And climb through ruins to Merlin’s Cave,
Then look a bit further from the ley lines,
And behold those birds as bold as day.
Because they no longer feast on the flesh of fighters,
Their carrion call is no death knell,
It’s the crumbs of the pasties they’re after,
Which is why they will never tell.