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Featured Poem: The Hurt Boy & The Bird by John Agard

Written by Francesca Dolan, 25th October 2021

To mark Black History Month, we want to showcase the work of black authors and poets from throughout history. This week's featured poem comes from our Head of Publishing at The Reader, Frances Macmillan, who introduces us to 'The Hurt Boy & The Birds' copyright © John Agard 2004. We’re grateful to John Agard c/o Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency Ltd for his kind permission to record this poem.

The Hurt Boy and the Birds 

The hurt boy talked to the birds
and fed them the crumbs of his heart.

It was not easy to find the words
for secrets he hid under his skin.
The hurt boy spoke of a bully’s fist
that made his face a bruised moon –

his spectacles stamped to ruin.

It was not easy to find the words
for things that nightly hissed

as if his pillow was a hideaway for creepy – crawlies –
the note sent to the girl he fancied
held high in mockery.

But the hurt boy talked to the birds
and their feathers gave him welcome –

Their wings taught him new ways to become.

John Agard

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