Cacophony

By Kate Maxwell

I still hear words sparking like struck 

flint around your head 

when I come back to your door:

the sharp ones you used 

to wave about like knives

piercing a warm day in hiss

and gasps of deflated trust and cold.

Words, hurled from the quick sting

of memory’s bitter blade 

gouging thick-crudded 

layers of yesterday

or yet another 

failed tomorrow.

You ranted for years, slept with 

sorrow spooned about your back 

until you craved its warm grey

breath upon your neck.

Now, I watch you set your jaw 

to smiling, as you picture-postcard 

us amongst the trees

new family

and white paling fence

but at the edges of that frame

one hand in his, the other 

stabbing nails into your palm.

In the dreary distance, I remember 

your ashen cheeks

sunken dreams

nights of his stinking yellow 

beer, shattered glass

and slamming doors.

Now two lives later

with new husband, painted

house and fresh cut grass

you laugh too loudly. 

It rattles against my ears 

like clatter of tin pans.


Kate Maxwell is yet another teacher with writing aspirations. She’s been published and awarded in Australian and International literary magazines such as Cordite, Hecate, fourW, Meniscus, Blood and Bourbon, and Brilliant Flash Fiction. Kate’s interests include film, wine, and sleeping. Her first poetry anthology will be published with Interactive Publications, Brisbane, in 2021. She can be found online here.

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