Lunch time at the market 

Christian Ward

The acrid tang of malt vinegar 

hits the back of the throat, 

almost making you dizzy 

like the zoetrope of seagulls 

performing in the chilly 

afternoon air. Fish and chips.

Paella. Greek food. A bazaar 

of grills pretzels the air 

with charcoal smoke. Crowds 

from nearby offices throng 

the stalls, their stomachs 

growling like unfed wolves.

Navigating my way past, 

I spy a budding magnolia tree,

calm despite the activity. 

When its chandelier of flowers 

is on full display, everything 

will fall silent — the march of feet 

slow and heavy with respect.

Notes on the London pigeons 

Christian Ward

Keenly observe the unpopped 

corn kernel of an eye — a hint of smoky 

whisky, permanent September. 

Enough to scan for hawks, 

gulls, and the odd cat fancying its luck. 

Their behaviour seems to be factory-made: 

the pre-programmed repetition of the coo, 

circling framed areas of grass and pavement 

for crumbs and other nuggets 

more worthy than gold. 

In groups, they fend off threats, 

camouflage with the seal-grey buildings. 

Their dances unsettling. 

Some call them sky rats, flick insults 

like cigarette ash. The wind 

knows it's best not to underestimate 

these birds; muttering gods in its quiet susurrations.

The Daffodils in St James’s Park 

Christian Ward

The daffodils lounge like lions 

in the park — a yellow carpet 

sunbathing for the tourists 

cooing at their calendar-bright 

colour. The daffodils enjoy 

every moment they have 

before they wrinkle 

back into the bulb. Temporary 

superstars. A lesson in love.

Longlisted for the 2023 National Poetry Competition, Christian Ward’s poetry has recently appeared in Acumen, Dreich, Dream Catcher, Canary, London Grip, The Shore, The Westchester Review, and elsewhere. He won the first 2024 London Independent Story Prize for poetry and loves vibing with the neighbourhood cats.