Cairo On The Radio

Down the endless garden
to a hand-built shed of wonders
and little me, sitting with my grandad
listening to all the voices
pushing through the static

What magic in those wires!
The narrow band, the wide
The squelch and the gain
The whistle and the whine
sounds I’ll never forget

The spectrum of a planet
Such wisdom in rough fingers
so deft upon the dial
gently they’d spin the roulette wheel
and flip between tunings

I was constantly in awe
at this window on the world
My ear up against the glass
of infinite possibility
and my grandad’s gentle teaching
explaining everything

We’d eavesdrop on conversations
fizzing through the airwaves
speaking so quickly
in strange new cadences
We’d hear calls to prayer
that sounded nothing like
the tuneless church bells of home

‘Where’s the microphone’ I’d say
‘can we speak back?’
he’d remind me
‘the most important thing, sometimes
is just to listen’
O, I was learning…

And when we were done
he’d disconnect the aerial
and gently warn me
how lightning storms
could blow up the receiver
O, how powerful, how dangerous
how exciting!

Charlie, Alpha
India, Romeo

Come back…


Thanks for reading.

Give your eyes a break and listen to some poems

Published by

Tom Alexander

"Art is a lie that tells the truth"

23 thoughts on “Cairo On The Radio”

    1. Thanks Don – I’m really pleased you enjoyed. I wish he was still around and we could talk about the world now that I’ve seen it for myself. 🙂


    1. Thank you so much! So kind of you to say. I wasn’t sure if it would be of interest to anyone other than me, so it’s extra special to hear you say that. 🙏🏼

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you! 🙂 I’m finding as I get older I want to write more about my youth, look again at little moments and experiences and (and like you say) see the world through those innocent eyes again…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah thanks Kim – sometimes I think a poem is just too personal to mean anything to anyone else but I hope it will and I’m so pleased you got something out of it. Sadly, I couldn’t find a photo of me in my grandad’s radio shed but the one above looks a lot like the one I know exists in a drawer somewhere…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I just mean ‘they’ whoever they are… I have a very similar photo but couldn’t find it anywhere so that one is a random from an internet search. I’ll replace it with one of me when I find it… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah okay… actually I did think that photo was of you haha!! well, anyway, if it was unclear, I meant your poem was amazing. Really, that was a short review but it really is. I love memoir-style things, and this feels to have a double meaning also, which I like as well. Beautifully done!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed Delia. 🙂 He was the first great story-teller I ever knew and his technical teachings gave me the skills I’ve used to build a career so it’s rewarding to finally put him into a poem of which I can feel proud.


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