the Insoluble Problem of Motivation

It had been on the vacant lot next to the church

For over half a year and no one in all that time

Could rustle up enough motivation to mow the lawn

Or clear it of rubbish. I thought of calling

The number on the back a few times but just couldn’t

Get motivated enough to ring or attend one

Of their weekly meetings





& I thought about something

A friend had said about running a Special Olympics

For the Motivationally Challenged but the problem

With that, I said, was that nobody would bother

To turn up. I thought then of the historically highly

Motivated: Hitler, Stalin, the rapacious bankers, Isis

And concluded that a low motivated populace isn’t

Necessarily a bad thing.

The Martian Inside Me

Comes out every now and then

When I lose the thread of an argument and desperately try to sew it up

When I chat with Tiff in her tank at night when there’s nothing on TV

When I slapstick my way across the mall just for the hell of it

In the bath on Sundays when I sing ‘Deep Water’ backwards, inside out and upside down to give my vocal chords a workout

At the hairdressers when I talk to Simon with the harelip about his dad’s imminent retirement as Lord Mayor of Mars

And lastly when we all stand together in Alex’s Salon and sing the Mars National Anthem on International Mars Day





  • when do you speak Martian?

Cows in a Paddock

Someone once told me you can tell what the weather

Will be like by studying cows in a paddock.

If they’re standing, she said, there’d be

a good chance of rain, whereas if they were lying down,

you could count on fine weather. Or it might have been

The other way around. What a load of bull, I thought.





What if half were standing and half were lying down?

Would that mean a 50% chance of fine weather, or to put it another way,

A 50% chance of rain, depending on whether you were

A glass half- full or a glass half -empty sort of person? It seemed a little dodgy.

What if, for instance, in one paddock all the cows were lying down

while in another, they were practising synchronised standing?

Wouldn’t one cancel out the other?





And why cows?

What about prognosticating pigs, soothsaying sows, auguring alpacas?

The list goes on. I decided to go back to the Bureau forecasts.

At least they get it right half the time.

My Sliding Doors Moment

Not ‘the last train to Clarkesville’.

Nor ‘the midnight train to Georgia’

Not even ‘the downtown train’ that Tom Waits

and Rod Stewart rode on vinyl

but that old steam train that took me all the way

from the monastery where I was sequestered

to be a priest, on the verge of making my final vows

to a life in the ‘real world’. where I met the woman who would be my wife.

and the mother of my three kids,

a career as a teacher, a writer, and the grandfather of six more kids,

the apples of my life,

a sliding doors moment:

the most momentous train ride I ever made.

Tricky

Not ‘selfish’, she says. more ‘difficult to get on with’.

Ahhh, I say, that’s code for ‘tricky’.

I know I am. My best mate is too.

Human beans are ‘tricky’ all around.

They don’t grow straight. They grow with all sorts

of genetic quirks; there’s always something askew,

that rubs people up the wrong way, that chafes.

How people live together, I don’t know.

Sometimes I have trouble just living with me.

I’m not a one trick pony, but I am tricky.

pic courtesy of Pinterest

How Could I Not?

I put up a post the other minute that I knew might offend people but I wanted to honour the veracity of the experience. Would it be more acceptable if the man was the one shouting, and he was the bear of the title rather than his female partner? She did unleash a scatological attack upon the poor guy. What he had done was unclear; more likely it was what he hadn’t done. The title of the piece was unavoidable, though might have been more acceptable were it the man hurling abuse.

It was what happened. Security was called. I overheard the remark, ‘woman screaming in the mall’. It was quite an event. It stopped everyone in their tracks. I could bend over backwards to sugar-coat the experience or ignore it but I’m a writer. How could I not respond to it?

No Wonder

No wonder there are so many love songs.

There are so many ways of getting love wrong.

Most celebrate one or more of these.

There’s more mileage in them than in ecstasy,

a much rarer state to which we all aspire,

happy to burn in love’s all cancelling fire ,

shortcomings forgotten, emotions turbo-charged,

our lives in an instant totally enlarged.

These songs are the apex of creativity

even as they approach ineffability.

*what are some of your favourite love songs?