I found my calling in backgrounds,
and replicating the noises
only noticed when they’re absent.
My sleight of hand is often found
behind creaks of creeps on old stairs;
that’s me pulling nails from fresh planks.
The sound of rain falling in films
is bacon being fried up close.
I made lunch today, it poured down
and I couldn’t tell the difference.
The mundane gives drama root notes:
a guillotined neck gets its voice
from a cleaver through a cabbage.
Hams hang on a hook to be punchbags
and put their heft behind fistfights.
A lion’s roar enhances car chases
and flapped gloves make the swooping sounds
from birds of prey about to kill,
but birdsong’s only ever birds
being themselves. I’ll drive for days
to record the correct species.
What noises can empty rooms make
when no one’s there to record them?
This keeps me awake every night.
Just last night I thwacked a dead cow
in the ribs with a cricket bat,
and I know my motives were sound.
Harold sits in his high-backed chair,
tips shells into his lap,
sprinkles the dayroom carpet with sand.
He lifts the tiger cowrie to his ear,
turns down his hearing aid to recall
the taptaptap of Dad’s pipe on the table,
Mom’s pastry-pin roll and thrap,
the budgie’s serenade to a swinging mirror.
He listens to the wentletrap,
makes out a Wurlitzer, the lift and fall
of Dora’s heels on sprung herringbone.
Smiles as she belts out Billie
over the thump of the twin tub,
the button tin rattle saving
his Sunday shirt from a ragbag fate.
Thumbing the ridges of an upturned oyster,
Harold tries to scoop out sounds
of hand-smoothed sheets,
the bedside monitor chirrup,
a last breeze of breath.
He scrapes the shells
back into their box,
clicks the catch
turns up his hearing aid.
Lets the tide rush in.
Sallyanne Rock is an emerging poet living in Worcestershire, UK. She has been published in various places online and in print, and can often be found tweeting @sallrockspoetry
Summer solstice in the asylum garden –
the wide blue bringing
your soul to feather
until I lose you
in an oratory of light.
round petunias and lobelias
I mention your job –
with The Belfast Corporation;
family having made it clear
you had the same one
for forty years, never once flying a plane.
Smiling you speak of your first solo flight
a yellow Piper Vagabond
leaving land behind
your azimuth shimmering
in a sapphire south.
Working on the real
I ask your age
your son’s and your daughter’s name
but a plane
headed for Belfast International
catches your eye
and you are gone –
lone aerial ace turning half-loops and rolls
above drifting mare tail clouds.
Planning a landing in the here and now
I pose questions on person, place and time.
Forced back down
you stumble on the here
fall flat on the day, the month, the year.
Confused, your gaze goes back
to that lithe translucence
telling me up there
nothing else like it.
A past gone but language still
crystal and flowing
in your dark forest
of Alzheimer firs.
Dayshift draws to a close
still no cognitive breakthrough
until I ask you the name of the best plane
Clare McCotter’s haiku, tanka and haibun have been widely published. She won The British Haiku Award 2017, and in 2013 The British Tanka Award. Her poetry and short fiction has appeared in The Cannon’s Mouth, Crannóg, Envoi, The Honest Ulsterman, The Interpreter’s House, Iota, and The Stinging Fly, among others. Black Horse Running, a collection of haiku, tanka and haibun, was published in 2012. Revenant, her first collection of ‘longer’ poems will be published in April 2019 by Salmon Poetry. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.
I try to balance
on the ferry’s bow deck
as we crest waves. Birds
surface —Razor bills,
dark wings accented
with markings like
parings of day moon.
They plunge into troughs,
drag their shadows under.
Cormorants arrow past.
The pier lies down
at my feet like an old dog,
then slinks away
as I climb the hill.
So many walls stacked
boundary the island.
On the headland path,
on stone barriers
like headlights in the fog.
Blackberries bramble old
boundaries: tiny pink blooms
tangled among dark fruit,
tart on my tongue.
Rain, more cloud than downpour,
washes off my make up.
Wind scrubs my cheeks
until they sting,
the way my Irish Nana did
when I was small. Eileen Brennan,
who lost her daughter
at a four way stop, her foot
on the brake too late.
I couldn’t check the sex
of the child my womb pushed out
fifteen years ago.
A country with so many
headstones. Inish More
has seven churches
not one roof among them,
slate dark as a squall
Here’s a fresh infant grave.
A wall-eyed teddy bear,
soaked dark brown as an old sponge,
leans its head on the stone.
Older markers are blank,
Kate Rogers’ poem “Ode to my period” was shortlisted for the 2017 Montreal International Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Elsewhere: a Journal of Place, Voice and Verse, Twin Cities Cinema, Juniper and The Guardian, among other journals. She is based in Hong Kong. Her latest poetry collection is “Out of Place” (Quattro-Aeolus House, Toronto. 2017.)