Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

‘Fairey’: a poem by John Greening

The poem below is from John Greening’s The Interpretation of Owls: Poems 1977-2022, edited by Kevin Gardner (Baylor University Press, 2023). The volume’s UK launch will take place at Hatchards, Piccadilly, on the evening of Thursday 9th November. Tickets include a discount on the book and are available here.


The first public conjuring show I gave
in the wake of my small ad –
Fairey Aviation. I can’t believe

I barnstormed (what was I then, thirteen?)
the swell of a hundred faces,
unveiling chrome surprises
to a tongue roll, pulling out of spin

and sleight and patter, wand-tip
abracadabras, and a trail
of paper-flower applause. Unreal
as an adolescent dream you wake from, grown up

and disbelieving. Can that really have been me
piloting that vintage Fairey
whose one prestigious aerial
manoeuvre was to turn and dive for the sea?