The Cuckoo Without a Voice

Berkeley Square: a nightingale
sings. The womb door: a crow
coughs out its mission statement.
Bobbing through the snowfields:
the robin with its festive cheer.

These can be tolerated. Such
is the order of things. The owl
with its two-note nocturne.
The sparrow’s common touch,
a labourer whistling his way home.

It’s the maddening tattoo
of the woodpecker that enrages,
the high-powered rat-tat-tat-tat-tat –
tone-deafness blowing a raspberry
at melody, a hammer attempting

the music of the spheres. It’s this
our voice-robbed cuckoo can’t stand –
to hear the vapid incessancy
of tuneless calling, raised to art
in his iteration, as the deathless

pecking of a crack-beaked amateur.

Neil Fulwood has published three collections with Shoestring Press, ‘No Avoiding It’, ‘Can’t Take Me Anywhere’ and ‘Service Cancelled’. A collection of political satires, ‘Mad Parade’ has just been published by Smokestack Books. Neil lives and works in Nottingham. Read other articles by Neil.