Selection from

The Wilding Eye

After Copernicus


After such a hellish catastrophe,

what happens to the angels?

Do they tumble down thrones

and dominions like bankers

from tall windows?

      Or, wings torn,

limp along uncertain pathways

as this new-wrangled globe weaves

and roils its anarchist path

around the heavens?


arms and legs akimbo

to smashed-up choirs, deny

change like sleepy country squires –

insist sheer grit and backbone

will slow, or even stop

the world’s new feckless,

wayward spin.

 Or, in time, reconcile,

become commoners like

us, roam wild gardens among

dandelions and feverfew –

       send texts

in the vernacular; flash

brief flame and gossamer

under faded jeans and sneakers.

             Assay once more

with trembling hands

those homely old halos.


Olivia Byard


Published by The New Statesman

Homo Erectus  

(1 million year-old fireplace found)


I see you crowd around, mouths full,

upright rumps near leaping flame –

and wonder who is jostled first

out towards the cave mouth,

  where freezing draughts roar in

  to sting and ancient predators


                  Perhaps a sense

a certain smell, precedes

the shuffle we still all fear –

   when a lonely shoulder cools

   down fast as rigid backs

   close ranks back to the fire.


                           A tired elder

will be left alone next day,

or one of those less fleet –

   a female without the telling smell

   of lunar blood, the freckled, those

   with squints, the dim –                  

                                     or one

who slowed this morning almost

to a dawdle – watched a bird

an early linnet, say, weave and dive

through pitching branches –

                       and is marked,

irredeemably entranced

by breath and song.


Olivia Byard


With thanks to Quadrant Magazine

DSC_1471ps berry removed final crop (2)



When you reach the trees

the apple's rotted

on the golden bough,

–canker grown, fly-blown –


depths are still depths

but the way swirls in shallows,

the rough hint of path runs

up only to bramble.


But this last look, wake-up

pinch, hollow laugh, sorrow –

might be a fork's touch,

a fresh furrow.


Olivia Byard


Published on Oxford Brookes University Poetry Page