WILD NATURE POETRY AWARD competition now open.



138 x 216mm


32 pages


£6.00 + P&P UK


ISBN 978-1-912876-45-7


PUB: 11/01/2021










With Love from the Curator


Oak Ayling










To the Shark on the corner of always and never.







Oak Ayling is a Pushcart Prize nominated Cornish poet and closet librarian.  


Oak's other works can be found in various literary magazines and in print anthologies 'For the Silent' from Indigo Dreams Publishing & 'Light Through the Mist' from author Helen Cox.

Reservations at the London Natural History Museum


Marble that looks like a ruined city

You stare hard & bite your tongue

But I think it too

We were that city once.

The frozen animals watch

Us like oncoming cars

You hold my hand tighter

The darkened halls forget to breathe

Shuddering with desire to go deeper

No place was more haunting than this.

A creature I once thought peaceful

Brandishes its jagged thumb

Rearing up to make a mockery of your giant frame

You lead me through the back doors

& shadows

To rooms beyond the second floor

Drawers & drawers of papers

The wings of magpies

Sharks’ teeth & palm sized pups

Still born

You look at me

& mouth the word


I rub tears against your cheek

Chase them down

To where the geodes make their stars behind glass

You sit there & hold me

Between your knees & arms

Whisper softly about every creature’s history but our own.



The Humours, the Lancet & the Leeches


The Tudor surgeon courts me in the hallway

His instruments sharp & twisting

It is the knees that go first when I feel it

The leeches moving down my thigh

Fingers scratch across the section label

‘Spring was considered the time for bloodletting’

My own pale face in the glass tells me

You know this dance, this wicked practice

The imbalanced humours & the Doppler-handed Doctor

Shaking his head

We pull out of the office car park

& wait for the lights at the hospital

Your thumbs tap the steering wheel

Blood runs redder when you don’t want it to

We hold our breath & count backwards from 10.




Digital Art Museum


Then just like that

In one innocent motion

Light bleaches

Against the black

Mori becomes a forest

A rippling forest of lamps

Peach & pearl

Blossom & brunnera

Our bodies pulse




Two loops


Yours & mine



A light


From the other side

Of the room


That someone has joined us.

9781912876457 NeonPhotoEditor_AMEND

Natural History


Mr Finch is down the hall making his dead birds

I study the architecture blindly

Unseen, a small child mounts the back of a rhino


My coat is green as finches

I twirl so as to make the feathers dance

Mr Finch is down the hall making his dead birds


You reach out & recede in hesitance

Stammer over words which wanted to be an apology

I study the architecture blindly


We do this dance in silence down the aisles

Grafting ourselves eternally to our favourite exhibits

Unseen, a small child mounts the back of a rhino.




Museum of Flat-pack Furniture


Here are the 48 allen keys you swore you lost

Between the boxes & cracks of the floorboards

The pencil you put behind your ear to look more ‘carpenterly’

You didn’t use it once

Nothing trains a man to be a father like the flat-pack

It struggles & wails at you from the floor

You put everything on backwards

The pictures in the manual pulling at your patience

Here is the mug which spilt its steaming contents over them

& the three tea towels used to mop

Your brow, Doctor, inserting screw 123775 (1 of 4)

Into nut 100514 (1 of 3) with surgical precision

As though building it perfectly might protect it this time

As though it might do a better job than I have

Here are the photos I said I deleted

Propped against the second mug of coffee & the coaster

I yelled at you to use on the changing table

Last time you didn’t build it, you put it off & we fought

You think that was bad luck

So this time the room is custard & the linen is cream

& when it’s finished we lay on the rug stroking each other’s faces

Like two kids painting a picket fence.




After Hours


Whale bones hang


Dressed in particles of dust

Ancient undisturbed

I climb to face it

In the gallery

& look it in the eye


In the parchment hollow arch

Of its long bald socket

I lean close enough

To run fingers across the baleen

& like a harp

Hear its song

Ripple over ribs

So softly

I whisper

“Take me with you.”




Two Cats from Onomichi


Akin to running up a hill

& sliding down again

Two wily cats to this day still

Launch bravely their campaign


To breach the gates, to enter in

To dodge the standing guard

To taste the arts which lay within

From which they have been barred


In this Museum hand in hand

Or rather paw in paw

Perhaps the pair might understand

Just what nine lives are for?


Day after day, week chasing week

For years & never tire

With never more than just a peek

At what they do desire


There is a moral to this tale

Two cats from Onomichi

Enduring in the place we fail

Oh how I wish they’d teach me




'With Love From The Curator' is a squalling babe, pink and unknown, beating all the odds against its own existence. This collection of 23 new poems journeys through landscapes of love, death, infertility and museums, both real and imagined across the world, telling the quiet story of a couple fighting their own battle against the odds.