Noel King was born and lives in Tralee. His poems, haiku, short stories, reviews and articles have appeared in magazines and journals in thirty-five countries. His debut collection, Prophesying the Past, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2010. His second, The Stern Wave is due in 2013. He has edited more than fifty books.
Three poems by Noel King
The Silent Film Festival
No popcorn here (we’re too serious for that),
our eyes pop with the gun shots we hear in our heads,
the explosions as another gangster gets his comeuppance.
In a loop of the silent shorts from eight countries, count-
less creators, actors and crew; we loop each other, arm in
arm, twin sisters (Siamese twins we’re teased in school).
A pianist is busking a cross-fertilising, genre-hopping
atmosphere on a (to my ear) out-of-tune upright, only
I notice that, I’m the musical one, my twin tone deaf.
Only afterwards are there voices; in the foyer, film buff
men – a few skirts – but most film buffs are men, yippee!
Everyone lets on that they ‘so enjoyed the screenings’.
In the ladies room, my sister adjusts her specs and I redo
my lipstick, we step out for cigarettes, femmes fatales
from the Film Noir era, intent on getting their man.
Stories at Bedtime
Mammy says Daddy
won’t be home because
Daddy’s working late
but I know Daddy
has been to a place called the pub.
When he does get here there’ll be sounds
awful from downstairs and then their room.
Daddy loves me, gives me money,
takes me to suitable films
and Sunday soccer matches;
he says to Mammy in the bedroom
that he’ll leave that woman,
but I’ve seen her – Mammy never has –
and she has a bump in her belly:
Daddy’s bump. I know the bitch
is more glamorous than Mammy is
although she doesn’t talk as nice.
I ring her number I found on
Daddy’s phone. I know it’s bad
but she goes mad when she hears
no one at the other end. I love
my Mammy, will stay with her;
don’t care whatever Daddy does,
he’s welcome to them dirty nappies; I’ll still
take him wherever he wants to take me.
Wheal Prudence, Extinct Copper Mine, Cornwall 1834
When yo’ were fallin’
did yo’ think o’ me,
o’ your family,
the children we’d ’ve ’ad?
O’ the way a simple step can fell
That mornin’ I could’ve
spoken more gentle to yo’,
that last night I needn’t ’ave
stayed out late, would’ve seen yo’
before yo’ slept.
And if I’d fixed the pump
I wouldn’t ’ve been ’elping yo’
to and from the well
and we wouldn’t ’ve fallen,
but then yo’ could
’ve stumbled without me!
I tried to fall faster,
catch ’old o’ yo’,
any part of yo’,
go under yo’,
make your landin’ softer
an’ there was a moment love,
a moment in which yo’ died
before me, an’ as stuff trickled throu’
yer mouth I closed me eyes
and I love you I LOVE YOU.
Our cottage awaited
our warmth that eve’,
it’s a haven for nothin’ now,
our parents couldn’t touch it, neither pair,
where we’d skinnied and blushed
our way thro’ the jeers
and cheers o’ merry guests
on our weddin’ night, to our
loft with the leak you bucketed
and I never guttered.
Its cracks’ll open more
and more in time, and birds,
doves p’haps, will shelter,
and when the door rots
cows’ll enter and graze
on the green pressed thro’ our floor
and when only the stone remains,
the village’ll remember
it was a haven for our love.