Birmingham Roller

by Liz Berry

Birmingham Roller

“We spent our lives down in the blackness… those birds brought us up to the light.”

(Jim Showell – Tumbling Pigeons and the Black Country)


Wench, yowm the colour of ower town:

concrete, steel, oily rainbow of the cut.


Ower streets am in yer wings,

ower factory chimdeys plumes on yer chest,


yer heart’s the china ower owd girls dust

in their tranklement cabinets. 


Bred to dazzlin in backyards by men

whose onds grew soft as feathers


just to touch you, cradle you from egg

through each jeth-defying tumble.


Little acrobat of the terraces,

we’m winged when we gaze at you


jimmucking the breeze, somersaulting through

the white breathed prayer of January


and rolling back up like a babby’s yo-yo

caught by the open donny of the clouds.



Black Country/Standard

yowm/ you are


tranklement/bits & bobs or ornaments



jimmucking/ shaking

babby/ little child


© Liz Berry