I’m delighted that this poem, out of GAIA. Being. Alive, was Highly Commended by David Herd, Professor of Poetry at the University of Kent, for the Kent and Sussex Poetry Society Folio Collection 2023.

Highly Commended: The Buzzard and the Raven – Steve Walter

I very much like the way this poem is constructed through a series of discrete images. Each scene is meticulously presented and across the sequence as a whole we are given a sure sense of the force of nature in a human life. The phrasing is impressive at every turn and in each scene the poetic line is handled with confidence and precision. The overall effect is of images pressed in memory. This is skilful and affecting writing.

The Buzzard and the Raven

She wrote of oracular fields, he of crow, bead-black.

Even beyond the grave I shall remember

one soaring on splayed wings,

the other gliding like the flicker of a hieroglyph

between hills, both flying over water over stone

caught in the same frame, sharing the same sky

guides of souls to the palaces of the dead.


We count kestrels hovering

by the roadside, as we travel north

in the summer of seventy-six

to where the land begins to fold,

ruptures to bare limestone pavements

wild feather born from broken rock.


Years later, my poster on the back of the ward door –

an eagle, superimposed

on the face of a native American shaman.


Today, amid the cloud-sculpted sky,

the buzzard flies alone

over country lane, over meadow

fierce angel, bring her to my hand,

tamed to this falconer’s gauntlet

while the shadow watches from far away.

Join me for Poetry and Environment at Southborough Civic Centre Hub on Friday 2nd June from 12:30pm.

As listed on the Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival website where you can buy tickets for only £5.

The Buzzard and the Raven