Lullaby of a Naturalist || Jay Rafferty

by Jay Rafferty

In the spring we couldn’t tell

cicada screech from frog call.


Our flat perched over

a sewer stream, a literal

shit creek, the only water

from there to the sea. We

saw a coyote stalking there

once, for what is anyone’s 

guess. Raccoons too. Could

have been rabid. We never tried

to check.


These cicadas though

had been around from the start,

in the trees outside our bedroom

window. By spring I’d almost learnt

all their folk songs by heart but the frogs

were freshly popped from spawn, nestled

in the bulrushes at the bottom

of the banks, their tune

                                out of sync

                by a second

or two.


Unless you paid attention

(I never bothered)

you mixed up

amphibian and insect.

It hardly mattered for 

when I’d leave that window

ajar, when I’d rest in the embrace

of chirps and croaks from 

a thousand points of life,

that sweet song, that

natural anthem of

Shit Creek – San Diego

always made me think


Heaney hadn’t a clue.



JAY RAFFERTY is a redhead, an uncle and an eejit. He is the Poetry Editor for Sage Cigarettes Magazine and a guest lecturer on Irish Literature and contemporary poetry. His debut poetry chapbook, Holy Things, was released in March 2022. You can read his work in several journals including Capsule Stories, Lights on the Horizon and the Alcala Review. When not losing games of pool he, sometimes, writes stuff.
Follow him on Twitter @Atlas_Snow & Instagram: @SimplyRedInTheHead

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