And the Bees …..


And the bees. You don’t see the bees amongst the trumpet flowers not even when they’re braying their beauty.

The creatures have abandoned us, Seb said.

And you don’t hear the rats anymore clattering in that small space behind the fridge where you can’t get at them. Nor the mice chittering in the corner.

The world’s gone quiet, Seb said. It’s like that film.

What film?

You know. ‘A Quiet Place’.

The wasps too. And the crows in their black leather jackets ….congregating like thugs at the back door. And making a racket. I kinda miss them.

Me too, said Seb.

And that stray cat with the asymmetric face. Why, even that plaster statue of old Rumpole doesn’t pee on the cobblestones on a full moon any more..

Not even the ghosts, sighed Seb. Not even the ghosts.

That Kid in the Oven


A little kid climbs into an oven.

It is dark and sooty as a cave.

The kid turns on his torch.

The door shuts behind him.

Someone turns up the heat.


His brow perspires, his eyes begin to bulge,

His heart to race.

The kid scrambles to find an opening, bangs on the glass.

The door slowly opens.

The kid staggers out.

There, says a stern, kindly voice. How was it?

Life isn’t plain sailing. Just so you know.

Huh, who was that? The kid asks.

No one answers.


* courtesy of ‘The Drabble’ on which it has just appeared


It’s My Birthday. I Can Say It If I Want To


I hope ‘Drive’ is playing when I get there

And the radio’s tuned to Triple J

And they serve my mocha just the way I like it

That they have the bar open on Fridays

And a barbie every second weekend.

And the New Yorker arrives promptly

On my doorstep each Wednesday

That they have a gym and an ocean you can swim in

When it gets stinking hot

[ or hasn’t climate change hit Heaven?]

If not, I’m not going.



You are a skilled carpenter. You whittle me away with your chisel voice to the shape you want, my failings, and infidelities, my rough edges, lie as so many shavings upon the ground. You pick me up and peer at me. I hope you are pleased. Now I sit upon my tiny chair like a ventriloquist doll waiting for you to jiggle my limbs and speak for me like Aunty did for Uncle Bert after he had his stroke when we were kids and sat with us stiff and vacant for afternoon tea.



What’s the loveliest new word you’ve come across recently? Mine would have to be ‘mulligan’. I came across a cheery article on dying in which the author says: ‘A thing about dying is that you can’t consult anyone who has done it. No rehearsals. No mulligans’. Okay, I had to look it up.

Do you know what it means? It’s a term used in golf where you’re given a second chance, usually when teeing off, if you make a bad stroke. This is only allowed, and informally, once every nine holes. The term has broadened to cover all facets of life.

I like the concept. I use it regularly when I stuff up a blog post. I have a second go. And if no one is watching, a third and fourth go in Edit mode till I get it right. Bless WordPress. How often do you get a post right first time around?







I’m out the back writing, throwing back a cab sav,

The royal purple trumpet flowers bowing before me.

It’s not a big backyard.

But it’s mine.

I can enter my own little world if I want to.

Don’t have to answer stupid questions about my failings.

Fuck that.

There’s a balmy sea breeze blowing

And I’m reading an article by Peter Schjeldahl

Who barfed in the bright green bushes when he came home

From a college party.

The vomit was bright orange, the sky a pastel blue.

He was amazed at the colour. Later he became an art critic.

I wrote a post about barfing in the bushes, the one before this

But hardly anyone read it.

And no, I’m not TRASHING it. It’s good !

I could drink the whole bottle of wine out here

And forget about the bushfires, the bloody bushfires and the threat of war again.

Fuck that too.

It’s good out here. So good.

I’m king in my board shorts and tank top and bare feet

under a crown of blue sky

kicking back the shit

putting it in this poem.

Perhaps I will drink the whole bottle.



Barfing in the Bushes


There’s a cartoon of a couple in a car

tearing down a roller coaster

and the woman says to the man, “With you screaming all the time,

I can’t hear myself scream.”

Men are so much noisier than women, my partner says.

When I began barfing in the bushes at a country fair

She implored

, “Can’t you barf quietly? Everybody is watching.”

Barfing has no volume control,

I wanted to say

but I was too busy being sick.


  • photo by Claire Satera on Unsplash


Apparently They See Ghosts


I was talking to my rarely glimpsed neighbour who was out the front doing the gardening.

We chewed the fat for a while

and then I asked him about Gus, his elderly Jack Russel.

He doesn’t annoy you. does he? He asked.

Not at all, I said. I’m a dog person.

Well, he annoys the hell out of me, he said. The other day he was barking at the dining room wall and wouldn’t stop. There was nothing there.

Apparently, they see ghosts, I said. Even in the dark.

He stopped raking.

Or he has dementia? He offered.

Wow! I said. That would open a can of worms. Think how many documented ghost sightings could be put down to dementia.

People don’t bark at walls, he said.

Not even if they’re barking mad? I said.

We both laughed uneasily.

He went back to his raking.

Inside, the dog barked.


Solitary Confinement


Do you know, he said,  no one’s knocked on my door

for half a year since I moved in?

The other day I said hello to a neighbour

While putting out the bins — he jumped back

As if affronted.

And once I had to speak to Hagrid next door

about his musical tastes

I know ‘metal’ is supposed to be loud, but hey!

Well, I haven’t heard from him since.

There’s a dog that barks from time to time

whenever I hang out the washing

but I never see the owner.

We’re hermits here, he said.

I do see cars come and go and hear bins go out

So I know people are there. You just never see them,

that’s all.

How to Catch a Seagull


My grandmother taught me

how to catch a seagull .

All you had to do, she said,

was to sneak up

behind one and sprinkle salt

on its tail .

How this was supposed to work

or what to do with it

when you caught one —

she never explained

but I tried it a few times .

I went down to the beach

with a salt shaker

and sneaked up behind some gulls

squabbling over chips

but one of them

always saw me coming .

It doesn’t work, I told grandma

but she always stuck to her story

but now I take it with a pinch

of salt .



john malone