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Ticklishness.

By Anthony Howell.

The bird she cannot bear
Walks with tiny strides
Attacking here a grain.
Her belly shrinks before
Suggested promenades
Of its feathery idea.

But such a tease as this
No ocean dare resist
Or lunatic ignore.
Imagine either fate:
An overbalanced wave,
Asphyxiating mirth.

Surrender is a fort.
The cornered ball uncurls,
Enticing beak to nest.
This confuses predator
With timid prey impaled
Upon a broken sword.

(1972)


Anthony Howell’s articles on visual art, dance, performance and poetry have appeared in many publications including Art Monthly, The London Magazine, Harpers & Queen and The Times Literary Supplement. His first collection of poems, Inside the Castle, was published in 1969. His Selected Poems were published by Anvil. His review of Dominic Sandbrook’s State of Emergency: The Way We Were: Britain, 1970-1974 is here.

© 1972 Anthony Howell. This poem was first published in The Little Magazine (London) in April 1972 and is republished here with permission. This work is one of a series of excerpts from literary and art journals not otherwise available online. Selected works are being republished at irregular intervals in The Fortnightly Review’s New Series.

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