Spinal Tap

by Kathy Miles

He’s a motley, a bag of pick-and-mix.
Black and white bullseyes, caramel,
a splash of raspberry ruffle under his tail.

He’s drumming tree trunks and feeders,
the ground below him fletched with feathers.
And the day stretches out, tethering me

to this silent house while his knocking
shakes the neighbourhood.
He drills my head like a neurosurgeon,

opens up the wormholes in my brain
exposing synapses and neurons;
searches it for grubs or tiny larvae.

He draws the fluid from my spinal cord,
pecks at the edge of the cortex.
Soon he will reach the heartwood.

I feed him ants and grasshoppers,
line his nest with tangled thoughts,
the gristle of my dreams.


Kathy Miles is a poet and short story writer living in West Wales. She has published three collections of poetry: The Rocking Stone (Poetry Wales Press), The Shadow House, and Gardening With Deer (Cinnamon Press). She has been placed in several major competitions, winning the Welsh Poetry Competition in 2014, the Bridport Poetry Prize in 2015, and the PENfro Poetry Competition in 2016. She has just completed an MA in Creative Writing, and is a co-editor of The Lampeter Review.