Four Poems

Miki Byrne

False Honey ants on pumpkin - Prenolepis impari
Photo Credit: Ian Marsman

Ants in my Friends’ House

The ants formed a line.
Tiny bodies so tightly packed
That it looked like a solid entity.
Yet it moved. Wriggled and shimmied.
It snaked from the skirting board.
Flowed like a stream till it hit the wooden foot
At the sofa’s corner. The line ascended.
A million minute feet moving in unison.
Over the arm, under the cushion, down again
To the floor. Cut corner-wise across the Navajo rug.
Like a trickle of ink spilt upon the bright weave.
The ants flowed across the fireplace.
Then turned as one along the next skirting board
Before they disappeared into a hole.
The line diminished like a ribbon
Being pulled through closed fingers,
Till the last tiny creature had gone.
Out of the four people in the room
I was the only one to register surprise.


As I Walk Through Birmingham

I pass grey buildings where decisions are made.
Notice how the industrial revolution smeared
dark blusher on their ageing cheeks.
My stride carries me down the alleyway.
From the Art School, between the concrete cliffs
of the coroners building and Lloyds Bank.
The funnelled wind pushes me. My feet throb,
Damp with sleet. In Victoria Square litter flutters.
Crabs across the slabs.
Catches upon the modernist balls of stone
Where students perch in summertime.
My neck shivers under stray rivulets that stalk my spine.
I dare not smile. The wind will whip it away
Before I can blink the water from my eyes.
This city is high and hilly. Like Rome, or Edinburgh.
Cudgelled by wind and rain. I walk head down.
A hammerhead shark. Flowing over pavements.
Slithering through winter-wrapped bodies.
Gormley’s Iron: Man stands stoic in the falling pellets.
Misery oozes from the hunched backs of walkers,
who dodge into shops for ten seconds heat
and a newspaper they don’t really want.
I watch ice water spurt upwards from a fountain.
It gushes with Artesian splendour. Makes a sparkling umbrella.
The new one on my right ripples and slaps in the wind.
Broad as a lake. I dodge the spray and head downhill.
Through a corridor of lighted windows.
Past the praying mantis limbs of mannequins and stacked walls
of white goods. I enter a blue-and-yellow bus.
Full and fuggy with condensation. Traffic crawls and behind me,
the city readies itself for night.


Autumn Equinox by the Beach

The wind was in full throat, ragged and raw.
Birds struggled squawking into the unforgiving sky.
Great waves hunched their glassy backs. Stretched.
Then hammered themselves against great anvils of rock.
Shaggy flecks of spume exploded and drifted back
into the surge and thrash of waves.
Fine threads of lightning blued the curdled clouds.
As they bunched in thick knots. To be torn ragged
by furious gusts. Rain fell from all angles. Came at us
from every side. Landed like a box of needles
thrown into the air, to fall back and pierce the tender skin
of faces and backs of hands. The roar of wind and waves
thundered into our ears. Chased us toward shelter.
Prodded us forward with blades of fierce air.
Rain was buckshot against the roof and the whole house shook.
We hunkered down, resigned to waiting it out.
With a hot toddy on the stove and waterproofs by the door.
Just in case.


Eating Noise

I hear the noise of electricity.
Of plumbing. Of heat.
Traffic growls. Engines roar.
I hear you speak. In the distance,
A baby cries, a dog barks.
The sounds fill me up.
I am force fed. Offered a banquet
from the city’s mouth.
Yet all I want is a simple diet.
Of silence.


Miki is the author of Nice-bits & Hissy-fits and Mackerel Sky. Miki has had work included in over 120 poetry magazines and anthologies. She has won prizes for her poetry and has read on both Radio and TV and judged poetry competitions. She has had ten short stories published to date and contributes articles to magazines. Her new collection Flying Through Houses will be available from Indigo Dreams Press in the autumn. Website. Blog. Email: mikiandharry[at]

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