* picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
* picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
What are you doing? I asked.
Scratching my cerebrals, uncle would answer studying the crossword before him, his right hand deftly scratching his scalp, between loose strands of sandy hair, as though he had nits.
It seemed to work. The more furious he scratched, the better he got, the crossword soon solved.
Then uncle would go out in the garden and within a short space of time, as aunty used to say, he’d be ‘off with the fairies’.
Perhaps the two activities were allied.
Perhaps I caught it from uncle but whenever I work on a poem or a piece of stubborn flash fiction, I scratch my cerebrals too.
My partner caught me at it one morning.
Stop it, you’ll go blind, she says.
We both chuckle.
It’s good to make light of things then go back to scratching your cerebrals should things become difficult.
Come to me, says the garbage truck to his love,
Waiting on the edge of the road for him,
You’re late, she says, looking at her watch.
I’ve been here since early morning.
Never mind, he says. It’ll be worth it
Grabbing her firmly around the waist,
Clutching her with his cold metallic hands,
You could have warmed them first, she says
Never mind the temperature, feel the grip,
he answers. Come into these loving arms,
Now. Doesn’t that feel good?
Wasn’t that worth the wait?
I bet you say that to all the bins, she says
As he gently places her back on the sidewalk.
See you next Thursday, he calls back.
I wish there were a place called Mojos
Where you could go to replenish
Your creative juices, to kick start that poem
Or story that won’t budge, where, in short,
You could go to get your mojo back
Should you lose it, and then I find there is!!!
It’s just around the corner, down the road a piece,
where ‘it’s local and foreign, hard and soft,
obscure and obvious, friendly and furious’
& it’s open ‘seventeen days a week’! I just knew
There had to be a place like that, a place like ‘Cheers’
But where creatives go. I just hope they still run
flights there, and I can get in.
I am learning the pleasures of sleeping in
Not leaping up at the first bounce of whimsy
Things can wait.
The Mad Hatter will still have his ball.
Blades of grass still grow tall
If I sleep in.
There will always be another train pulling in at the station.
Things will not be rationed any more or less
If I rest.
Wendy will still be in Neverland
& I can still hold your hand a little longer
If I lie in.
Dreams will not evaporate.
We can still meet each other at the gate.
Beneficence flow free.
I will still be me,
The lambs still bleat.
If I sleep
* with thanks to Chelsea who saved it & David R who inspired it
I show him my little book of poems.
Hey, it looks good, he says. Can I hold it? Can I have a look?
I can do better than that. I’ll give you a copy.
Sure, you’re a mate. Have a read. Tell me what you think.
You don’t have to read them now.
It’s not a big book. It’s only 24 pages. Why, so short?
It’s a chap book, I tell him.
What’s that when it’s home?
A mini collection on one topic or theme, I say.
So what’s the topic?
Hope, I say. Like the title.
Why are the pages blue?
Remember the blue berets worn by the United Nations peacekeepers?
Well, blue’s the color of Hope. The poems are upbeat, funny, cool like me.
I’ll have a good read at home, he says, and get back to you.
Meg is wandering again
in smaller and smaller circles
driving us round the bend.
What is she thinking?
She worries the others.
A few days later
when we let her out she begins
circling again until
she huddles beneath the bird bath
and will not move.
We shift her.
She crawls under a bush
where she’s hard to reach.
The cat who often bothers the chooks
leaves her alone.
That night it rains and rains.
In the morning she’s bedraggled.
I lift her into the earth.
There isn’t much of her.
The chooks settle after that.
So do we.
But when I go to pay the fine
surprise, surprise, there’s no waiting game.
Someone picks up straight away.
The voice is chirpy like a canary.
It’s like a change swept through the place
I tell the lady.
I tell Maria.
She even has a name.
People always quick to take your money, I say.
She even chuckles.
I don’t know if it’s put on or genuine
You take what you can get.
The lines to the other sections I say, the ones
asking for extensions, leniency,
were always clogged with callers
And when you finally got through
a graveyard voice answered. like Lurch from ‘The Adams Family’.
She chuckles again.
She brings out my inner stand-up.
But your line, I say, lit up like a Xmas tree.
She glows, gives me the receipt number.
She’s still chirpy, wishing me a good weekend.
I feel light as a glider. The fine is off my chest.
They gave me a number to phone
And when I phoned that number —
When I eventually got through —
They gave me two more numbers
With even longer waiting times,
But they all said the same thing,
tone deaf to reason and compassion,
the Shylocks of bureaucracy.
Whichever way you turned
You got the same answer.
They had it all sewn up.
You were already in prison
Behind bars intransigent as iron.
I always call it ‘my first daft’ because I let the ideas roll recklessly out of my mind onto the page. No censoring, no editing. That comes later. That comes at the draft stage. For the moment what you have before you, were you to read it, is ‘daffy’, it makes little or no sense. It is amorphous writing. This little piece began amorphously, no punctuation, grammar awry, phrases all jumbled like a Rubik’s Cube before it is solved. If you’re in a hurry, if the ideas are rushing past, then daft writing is the way to go.