Noel King – Five Poems

Noel KingNoel King was born and lives in Tralee. His poems, haiku, short stories, reviews and articles have appeared in magazines and journals in thirty-seven countries. His poetry collections are published by Salmon Poetry: Prophesying the Past, (2010), The Stern Wave (2013) and Sons (forthcoming in 2015). He has edited more than fifty books of work by others.
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in the kitchen

here its not cook
eat
clean up
it’s clean up
cook, eat
clean up
clean up
cook, eat
clean up
clean up after you
cook, eat
clean up after me
clean up ‘cause you’re not arsed to
cook and eat
clean up after you (or me)
I do all the clean up
‘cause your mother spoilt you rotten
‘born in a field’
so you can’t cook, eat
clean up after you
but I have to
clean up after you
cook, eat
clean up after me
the way it goes with sloppy housemates.

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Hartfield, Jack

sits in the black,
re-living hunt balls
and Austin cars.
Fat volumes on his shelves
gather dust, he fingers
their spines sometimes,
knowing exactly which is which.
His soft, ancestral furnishings
hold pictures:
______a lost lover from the 1950’s,
______his last Labrador on the lawn,
______his parents (in sepia).

His winter fires are miserable,
summer sun he hates as he hoses
the memory of his garden
from position at the back door.

On Tuesdays his sister phones,
Sunday mornings, a niece,
Mondays and Fridays
a neighbour woman brings groceries
he forces himself to eat.
A priest comes now and then
but Jack has no time for religion.

At night he turns on lights
to ward off intruders
and continues to wait to see
again, thinking happy things
from his spring, summer and autumn.

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Sewing

I have a need to cover a great oak tree with one
big white sheet, dream of threading together
a house-full pulled from under a family
who stare at me, consider me mad; brutal even.

At eight I fell from its branches, don’t know what
happened then, just remember being bedridden.
At ten I crouched in lightning, not knowing a tree
was the last place to shelter.

An oak swish in winter soothed me at earlier times
of life. Now its tongues tease me, coming as it has before
baby, child, teenager, husband, widower. Naked
in a nightmare, I am barely balanced on my garden wall,

wave my arms to keep balance and the sheet in my hands
from flapping, despair on how to get my sheet over the tree.
I no longer object to house plans for its field, won’t mind
the sound of a chain-saw; will a dream to sit on

its wide stump as branches lie dying in the grass and I
won’t count the circles, knowing it has lived long enough.

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Galilee

The Man rocks me to sleep;
a huge arm vice-grips comfort,
chanting, chastising for taking
the boat out with the visitor
I wanted to impress.

I’d learned fishing with Him;
but my arms oddly lost the skills
at the start of the storm.

He spotted the boat and me missing,
roused some neighbour fishers too,
and walked across the water. Rescue.

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Shark Meat

The waitress did her best to describe the taste,
said the proprietor had caught it himself
last Sunday. We ordered. We ate. Enjoyed
a glass of wine with it. Tasty enough.
It was. And then she told me
she wasn’t after a relationship with me,
or other men, that only another woman could
tickle her belly.
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