Poet of the Quarter – Michelle Davey

November 2021

Poet of the Quarter:

Michelle Davey

“Murdering Turtles at the Foodbank”

Michelle Davey is a poet, radio presenter and primary school teacher from East London. Following her move to the rural English countryside from East London, Michelle began writing a blog she named The Cockney in the Countryside. The blog gained a substantial number of followers and subscribers in a short amount of time leading to regular chats on BBC radio about features she had written. Michelle then went on to present at Cambridge radio where she still presents the Early Breakfast show each Saturday morning. Michelle is a wife and mother to three young children. She is an advocate for autism and additional needs awareness and co-created and hosts the award nominated podcast Let’s Talk Autism and Additional Needs. Poetry is her outlet and after sitting on her poetry journals since her early teens she finally dared submit in October 2020 and has had 25 poems published since in various zines and journals.

Murdering Turtles at the Food Bank

Murdering Turtles at the Food Bank is fundamentally about the food crisis so many families are facing across our country. It is also about the judgements passed on the school gate and in our society. I will always remember being asked at the school gate which brand of tea bag I used and if it was biodegradable after I had queued for the Food Bank that afternoon. This poem is based on those conversations and the hypocrisy they stank of. I will always teach my children that even the smallest of changes matter to our environment and we will endeavour to do as much as we can. They will also always know that kindness and compassion have some of the greatest impacts on our world.  – Michelle Davey

Murdering Turtles at the Food Bank 

Food bank queue,
degree folded in her back pocket
as the four by fours
snake their emissions behind them.
Drivers supping tea stewed from biodegradable tea bags,
cradled in bamboo cups.

She forks mandarin segments into tupperware,
charading superficial freshness
in the children's lunchboxes. 
School running on an empty stomach, 
playground grit scorching the holes in her soles.

Cake Sale Friday.
Wooden sieves to sift unbleached flour,
whisked with butter,
churned from the milk of swollen oats.
Food bank queue,
degree folded in her back pocket 
she scrabbles for life in a bag for life
sagging with uniformed vegetables 
tinkling a slush of additives and salty brine.
Turtles choking on custard cream wrappers.
Five pound stretched ozone thin
Two pound fifty for that funny milk
curdling her coffee.
A penny for thoughts
strangled with conflict and plastic.

Previous Poets of the Quarter
Amanda Crum – The Exchange – August 2021

“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful”

Rita Dove