The Magic Robot

He knew everything,

That little green figurine

on a metal base

a gold wand in his hand .

We’d stand him on the board

inside his metal slot

[ It was all done with magnets ,

I explained to my grandson ]

and point him to what

we wanted to know —

the capital of Mongolia , for instance ,

or what was the longest river in the world ?

Then we’d lift him off

place him on this little mirror

surrounded by answers

on the other board

and watch him go .

He’d wobble a little bit

at first

as though he was thinking

then slowly turn and point

to an answer .

He always got it right .

Kids would come over and we’d run

quiz shows

with the robot as quiz master .

There were lots of questions

on lots of topics .

He knew them all .

Then one day his powers died.

And he knew nothing.

We put him out in the shed.

I never got to ask him the big ones

like what will I be when

I grow up

or when the world end will end

or where animals go

when they die ?

For a long , long time

there was nothing

like him .

The along came something

just as good ,

the internet of course .

That’s the Magic Robot

for these times .

You can ask it any thing

you want

though it still can’t answer

the big ones

You Really Have to Lift Your Game

You really have to lift your game, I say to my poems:

pull the finger out, push the envelope, think outside the box;

you’ve been resting on your laurels too long.

Other poets are doing amazing things with words,

smashing them together like neutrons in a Hadron Collider.

Get this: ‘these widowed months’, ‘the dents of highway laughs’,

and my favourite: ‘the soul is a runway for anything willing to fly’.

Whew! they say. Is that all you can say? I say.

Will you try a little harder? I say to my poems. Come on, guys.

For the Home Team. They look a little hesitant, abashed.

I don’t know, they say. It’s just not us.

We’ve been through this before. Okay, okay , I say. I’m sorry.

Just be yourselves. Just occasionally, Huh? Would it hurt?

They look at me. Give me the thumbs up.

Then I play them Slowly Slowly’s ‘Jellyfish’ as a stimulant.

They light up, move to the music.There’s hope for them yet.





* quotes from Bob Whiteside’s blog: naïve haircuts

On the Hop

Did someone throw a switch?

One moment we were out of the woods.

The next in.

We’re going in hard, fast, early,

the Premier said.

And that’s how it happened.

Six days hard lockdown,

stricter than Wuhan

or Melbourne.

Pubs, schools, businesses.

Even the police were caught

on the hop.

Who decides these things?

.Hard, fast, early.

Then three days later

we were out again.

A lockdown based

on a pizza worker’s thick crust

of lies.

Even my grandson in Vienna

heard about it.

Did you?

We’re the Easter Bunny State

where decisions are made

on the hop.

What If I Leave the Dog Out?

What if I leave the dog out?

You can’t leave the dog out. It’s hilarious.

How about the two phone calls?

Necessary to the plot.

But it’s got to be less than 100 words. What if I leave out the storm descriptors?

Then, excuse the pun, you destroy the atmosphere.

How about the phrases I worked hard at?

Like ‘freckled sensibility’ ?

Yes.

It’s a frilly phrase..

But ….

Kill your darlings.

So what do I do?

Regroup. You can fit anything into 100 words.

‘War and Peace’?

Yes, even ‘War and Peace’.

In Which the Dog Loses His Cool

I’ve got a bone to pick

with you,

says the dog to Mrs. Hubbard.

How come when I go

to look

there’s no food in the cupboard?





No meat, no cans, no biscuits.

Why there’s not

even a single bone.

And you have the cheek,

the temerity

to call this place a home!





It’s not as though you’re

the old woman

who lives downstreet in the shoe.

Look around. You haven’t

any kids to feed.

There’s just me and you!





Whatever can be the cause

of this

outlandish state of affairs?

Why if I was goosey goosey gander

I’d kick you

right down these stairs!

I Had Left the President Outside

I had left President Trump outside.

I don’t know what got into me

but one moment I was reading about him

in a New Yorker article a week before

his fall, and I remembered I had put the oven on

& forgot all about him. The ex-President

was having a hard enough time without being abandoned

on a plastic chair with a cold southerly sweeping in & being compared

to Nixon a week before his fall. How the mighty have fallen, Shelley

might have intoned so I did the decent thing and brought the magazine in

where conditions were more conducive to the ex-President. Besides,

with the hail beginning to clatter outside, I wanted to finish the article.

The Poem Outside my Window

There’s a beautiful poem outside my window

a shrub two and a half metres tall

with coquettish purple flowers

and a little frost of throats.

There are other colours too

lavender and white

a trinity of colours.

It has a botanical name, of course,

though I much prefer its common name:

Yesterday. Today and Tomorrow.

I’ve written about it before but not like this,

Yesterday was our 215 th day with no community transmissions.

Today we have 20.

Tomorrow?

We watch the News Bulletins, updates from the Chief Medical Officer,

Blooms of anxiety.

Viral blooms.

Torpedoes

I want to make a bee line for the shop —

there is panic buying again —

but my bowels won’t let me,

Please let me go, I say.

But my bowels are recalcitrant.

When they get in this mood there is nothing

you can do.

I threaten them with torpedoes,

my moondrop grapes

but they grip their fists even harder

against the attack.

So rather than sit and wait & twiddle my thumbs

I write this little poem.

My bowels immediately relent.

There are enough bad bowel poems out there

anyway.

Mine does not want to be added to the list.

My bowels heave a sigh of relief.

My Three Favourite Words

Someone once asked me what were my three favourite words? I had to think. There are 171,146 words in the English language so there’s a lot to choose from.

After many days, I came up with three words but they weren’t even English words. They were the names of places. Mogadishu, Timbuktu and Trincomalee. In recent times they have all been war-torn places so it wasn’t the places themselves that I loved but the sound of their names, Not the shape of the words but their sounds as I swilled them in my mouth: like the best cab sav or the best dark chocolate or better the cab sav washing down the dark chocolate. A rich, sensual taste. One that lingers.

Now there is another. A name just as magical. Talloola. It is a mythical place, a country town conjured by Carolyn Cordon, a friend of mine and a fellow blogger. Her cozy murder mysteries which she is writing now are set there. I can’t wait to read a draft

* what are some of your favourite words?

*pic courtesy of Wiki Commons