Issue 27: Barnaby Smith


‘Visual cues suggest an extreme sonic environment’

— Lawrence English on latent sound, 2016

‘I like to think of latent sound as a kind of spectral haunting’

— Lawrence English, 2020

the attendant is

reading the Qu’ran best

leave him to his

tone poem

his mood piece


gentle octaves

understand as you do


of the old town

& dark hills behind

as you do


absorbed from artefacts—

artefacts go

on eating each other

then reset as cold

in proud white rooms

that buzz & cough




the act of attending:

noble if to nothing

latent sound is nothing




from studied

woman by the door

& aching feet exodus

[dilating tones]

quarrel          cuddle          squirm           peep           ignite

sigh               stretch         perform         notate         imbibe  

grit                house          locate            imagine           



conversations with

the walls & let loudness


& inhabit

deep, invisible time—

frequencies staying lost

as realities come & go—


& remote as breath

the semantic problems of child-rearing (i-iii)

the dog died

my mother cocked her head

on an afternoon

& a year or so later

the 1990s felt like

vague heat

tangled up / it is imagined

told or guessed


last thing at night

dull lingering impressions in the country

& inescapable frequent sadness

for children, clumsy & limited

with beasts on the doorstep

haunting is the word—

the muffled squeak inside

defeated by a wandering neighbour

they’re gone & that’s all

not drowned

not drowned. but in the absence of answers

psychology grows & grows

                 evidence is usually better:

                 a wet body isn’t speculated

no questions for the empty day

indoors is well-meaning

overflowing usually

           towards one reality

           damaged & blurred—

           the supposed

                       years as myth

Barnaby Smith is a poet, critic, journalist and musician living on Darug and Gundungurra land near Sydney, Australia. Recent work has appeared in journals such as Erbacce (UK), Orbis (UK), Marble (UK) and Blaze Vox (US), as well as Cordite, Southerly, Australian Poetry Journal, Australian Poetry Anthology, Best Australian Poems, and more. He is an award-winning art and music critic, and records music under the name Brigadoon, having released the album, Itch Factor, in 2020.

Copyright © 2022 by Barnaby Smith, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.