Poem of the Month

It is the Sound – by Frank McMahon


of a child abandoned on a hillside

of a man’s tears falling across a rock

of a seabird caught in a trough of oil

of a whale lost amongst the throb of engines

of a mother pleading for the life of her child



It is a sound

drawn from wet, wind-hammered fells

drawn from the curlew’s piping

and the lapwings winter cry

drawn from the farmer robbed of his fields

drawn from the tribes driven into exile

drawn from a saw cutting bone


It is a sound distilled

from the edge of extinction

from war’s obliteration

from the driving out of mercy.


It is sound that grinds against the skin

that lacerates the heart

but is not heard by all and so it must be amplified

a threnody for the loss of hope

played by the last surviving piper.


This poem first appeared in the online literary magazine ‘I am not a silent poet’ in June 2019.