Whistle If You Want To by Grant Tabard

‘Whistle if You Want To’ has a beautiful, heartbreaking sense of antiquity, is a hymn to an almost forgotten time with its ‘Frankie Lane’, ‘cheerio’ and ‘radio waves’. I loved this poem’s neatness and avoidance of sentimentality. It is the more affecting for that. The last three lines are so piquant with emotion. – Jane Burn, guest editor.

Whistle if You Want To
for my Grandfather

If I’m mourning, whistle if you want to,
sing with gusto to fill my blank spaces,
sing Frankie Lane’s ‘Cry of the Wild Goose’
and, as he’s not yet that far away, he
may hear you, a receding pinprick of
light smaller than my fingernail. If I
had a large enough telescope I’d wave
‘cheerio’ as he dwindles between radio waves
and worn folds in the map of lost places,
where home ebbs like a rocket spraining from
the Earth’s luminous pull, a house made up
for Christmas. And he must go where the wild
goose goes, with splitting nouns and soft kisses
between pale lips that whistle as they go.

First published in The Lake


Grant is the former editor of The Screech Owl, co-founder of Resurgant Press, a reviewer and an editorial assistant for Three Drops From A Cauldron. He is the author of the collection ‘As I Was Pulled Under the Earth’ (Lapwing Publications), as well as the chapbook ‘Yellow Wolf’ (Writing Knights Press). His third book, ‘Loneliness is the Machine that Drives the World’ (Platypus Press) was released in May 2016 too good reviews. Last September his latest collection ‘Rosary of Ghosts’ (Indigo Dreams) was published, also to good reviews. His new pamphlet ‘This is the Carousel Mother Warned You About’ (Three Drops Press) as well as a new collection ‘dog’ (Gatehouse Press) will be published this year.


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