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Dave Garbutt

© Brigitta Hänggi



the poet

Dave Garbutt is retired, lives in Switzerland and has been a keen birder since he was 12. He was born in North London, less than a mile from Keats’ House, and began his writing career while still at school. Recent publications to include Dave's poems range from Deronda Review and The Brown Envelope Book to BOLD! (an anthology on masculinity) and Sound and Vision. His poem Thirteen White Birds was shown at Leigh Spinners Mill in April 2023 as part of the Paper Birds exhibition. Dave's poem ripped was long-listed in The Rialto's Nature and Place 2021 competition.

the poems

Walk, Stand and Sit
by the Hornbeam

00:00 / 01:30

                        Come with me

                                                into the moment 

                        the world relaxes

                        We talk, chatting, gesticulating, not drowning.

                        Here, the hornbeam catkins are out— 

                        wait. Stand. Sit.




                        —Count six hundred heartbeats— 

                        A Great Tit calls, moves past, twig to twig 

                        it stops to sing—

                        a bit early, but sunshine makes it right.

                        Now more birds move, quiz twigs, 

                        parse branches, a Tree-creeper sings,

                        a Dunnock from the hedge

                        releases its ‘short unassuming warble’ 

                        my first for this woody place.

                        Four Magpies swoop past.

                        A Nuthatch hammers a hazelnut 

                        A Hawfinch sits and watches 

                        drops to the ground ...

                        here is the world when humans are still— 

                        this world, without us, is the one we live in 


Water Vole

00:00 / 00:54

                        The first time I saw a water vole 

                        it didn’t see me,

                        and I watched it for half an hour. 

                        I had time. I was running away 

                        from the last quarrel of

                        my marriage, 

                        from the last quarrel of my life, 

                        into my last sunset. 

                        And this tiny whisker-twitcher, tiny 

                        grass chopper, reed wrecker,

                        ate, looked, sniffed,

                        groomed itself, sniffed, rested 

                        watched for sky-scares, 

                        watched for water-shrieks 

                        and for a few seconds


                        Then it slipped off its rest place, and swam, 

                        leaving me with a life

                        still to come,

                        and a future yet to happen.

00:00 / 01:20

                        Although I am but one cell budding into a line

                                                          I am just as much a petal 

                        although I am spread, to wind & sun

                                                          I am just as much a petal 

                        although I am creased, folded back by frost

                                                          I am just as much a petal 

                        although there are bruises marking my satin white

                                                          I am just as much a petal 

                        although I rest now, released, on the ground

                                                          I am just as much a petal 

                        although a footprint crosses my silvery tongue

                                                          I am just as much a petal 

                        although time pushes the bruises to cover me

                                                          I am just as much a petal 

                        although I am dissolving to moss and leaf

                                                          I am just as much a petal 

                        and tell me human with eyes and ears and hands and pen 

                                           how about you? are you a petal now? 

                                           or still a human? Since when

                                           are you both?

Publishing credits

All poems: exclusive first publication by iamb


S h a r e

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