Musical Ear


Then there was the Welsh, male-voice choir

that followed you around. They’d been at it for weeks,

you said, turning up unannounced

like carol singers at inconvenient times.


You hadn’t minded at first. At least, their singing was good —

heavenly, you described it, better than any of the choirs

you remembered from your childhood,

especially the solo tenor — out of this world.


The problem was you couldn’t make them stop.

Instead you tried drowning them out,

la-la-la-ing away at the top of your voice,

you versus all those men.


Or if that didn’t work, you’d resort to the radio,

turning it up loud even at three in the morning —

fortissimo Radio 3, fortississimo Classic FM.

But either they were deaf, or wouldn’t take the hint.


Of course, I couldn’t hear them, but you still insisted I try.

We sat like a couple of kids sharing a set of headphones,

or as we’d been years ago with the wireless warming up

for “Listen with Mother” again.


You wouldn’t accept that the voices were all in your head.

They sang Land of my Fathers in Welsh,

all three verses word perfectly throughout,

so how could it be you? You only knew the first two.



Stephen Claughton’s poems have appeared most recently in London Grip, Poetry Salzburg Review and The Poetry Shed.  London Grip and Poetry Salzburg Review credits are for forthcoming issues (both Spring 2018).