I have just come back from the shopping centre, I wrote, ten years ago
and have discovered the boot empty. Where is all that food I bought?
Back in the trolley where I left it in the car park ready to heft into the boot.
An action I never completed. I dashed back to the shopping centre
but the trolley was gone. I had supplied a needy family, I like to think,
with a week’s supply of free food. In the end, I remembered.
My memory had rebooted. But what if it hadn’t? Would you even know
you had forgotten something if you had no memory of it?
Is this how it happens?
Do I feel like a Venetian?
No, I do not feel like a Venetian.
How about a banana?
No, I do not feel like a banana.
Well you have to have something.
How about some raisin toast? bowl of cereal?
Ummmm, but no.
Have some coffee then. You can always have coffee.
Yes, but what to have with it?
Houston, we have a problem.
I know I want something.
Look, you just can’t flail on the lounge like a fish
on a jetty.
I’ll have fish then, that salmon left over from last night.
We hadn’t seen each other since Covid began and had forgotten each other’s names.
It was at the gym and the pulsating music upstairs during a class made hearing difficult.
Martin, he said.
Martin as in Martin Luther King.
Ah. I’m John.
John as in John the Baptist.
Ahh, he said.
We shook hands and had a brief chat over the music.
Henceforth when we saw each other, especially after a long time, I’d remember him as Martin Luther King and he’d remember me as the preacher who baptised sinners in the river Jordan.
which famous person first comes to mind when you say your first name?
It’s the little things I love
‘Paterson’, the movie
About the bus driver
Who wrote his little epiphanies in his note book
like William Carlos Williams
the doctor who wrote
the red wheelbarrow
And finding out
That’s where Lou Costello grew up,
Paterson, New Jersey
There’s even a park named after him,
Lou Costello the chubby comedian who played alongside Bud Abbot,
The straight guy.
I used to watch those guys in the funhouse
Of the fifties,
Frolicking with Frankenstein and The Wolf man.
But it was Lou Costello
The funny little fat guy
And that’s where he came from,
Paterson, New Jersey.
A few years ago I read a book called Wolf Hall.
Now I’m writing about Wolf Down
what the cat does with food when it’s been stuck
on the roof all day;
what we do now
wolfing down pleasure,
the great outdoors,
going for drives,
doing stuff together,
hoping to outfox the old virus for another day.
I’ve written another poem about a cat.
I promised myself I wouldn’t do that,
But this one leapt upon the page
and as usual took centre stage;
the other poems took off and scurried,
looking set upon and rather harried.
There was one about a lecherous leer —
that would have to wait another year;
and one about my old dog Trigger
who humped his mattress with manly vigour.
So may things about which to write
but this cat poem purrs with delight.
in the morning
not the ones you eat
though they’re pretty good too
but the ones you listen to
the ones from Ireland playing now
over the PA system in the mall
thoze impossible melodies
thoze haunted lines
playing through my blood
such ‘harmonious madness’
hinting at what?
we’ll never know
joy or tragedy?
I go outside.
The day moves slow.
what piece of music moves you?
You hear those gunshots last night, Matt? Boom, boom, boom , one after the other. Six in a row.
Firecrackers, he chuckled. The kids down the road.
What! You killed the romance, Matt. I had a great piece of flash fiction on the go: about an active shooter on the prowl, a gang fight … it was going to be a ripper. I was up half the night writing it. I couldn’t sleep.
You can still do a great piece of flash fiction, John. Just make it comic, not horror. A good writer can do that.
When I come back
I want to come back as a book.
No matter how rambunctious, vitriolic,
passionate the life within,
I can’t get over how composed
each one looks.
if you could come back as a book, which character would you choose to be?