This Week’s Poetry to Inspire: Pteronophobia (fear of feathers)

Today’s poem, Pteronophobia, was inspired by a trip to Matthew’s Yard in Croydon, where my daughter lives. This creative hub is home to the first fully crowd-funded theatre in the UK, a successful art gallery, showcasing the work of emerging local artists and multifunction space which hosts a diverse range of arts and community events.

And a great vegan cafe, where I was struck by this wall collage, American Dream, made by Alec from ColourBlind, from American currency and packaging.

Even the skin is made from recycled McDonald’s bags.

Here is the poem it inspired.



(fear of feathers)


Outside the cafe I bow before 

a wall-artist’s work:

a noble head of the race 

we used to call Indian, 

now native American.

A young brave, male 

or female left unsure

full lipped and arched 

of brow, head dressed

in feathers branded 

with labels: McDonald's,

Coca Cola, Marlboro.


An image it has taken 

seven generations

of dreamcatchers 

to capture.


The collage speaks

to me of my lost liberation

from dancing circles 

broken, arrows felled, 

argent moons 

on open empty plains,

babies in papooses crying,

women milking dry wounds

warrior hearts brought low.


I let the single drumnote

of its silent plea 

reverberate in me.


This is a poem from Keepers: Selected Inspirational Poetry.

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Orna Ross


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