(Listen to the poem here)

Gringos don’t know how to whistle,
the bus driver tells me on the way
to Puebla.
Once in North Carolina,
I whistled at a dog,
the owner told me off. He said
It’s got a name, that dog,
you oughtta call it Chuck”.
But we in Mexico, we have

forty-eight ways, or more,
of whistling.
There’s one to say hello,
one which sounds like a teasing joke,
one which will set a man reaching for his knife,
there’s one to say I’m turning left,
and one to say I’m turning right-
and here he swerves a little,
for he gets excited,
because, he says,
then there’s one whistle which
is mine alone
just for when I get home.
The parrot answers,
the tortoise suddenly wakes up,
the children all come running out
and my wife whispers
“Mi amor”.


                                                                                                    Phillip Hill 2003


(This poem is included in my book The Observation Car which is available from

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