I need cheering up, she says. I work better when happy.
A shared laugh would help, she adds.
So it’s down to me. What am I? A stand-up?
I can’t think of anything funny to say.
It’s a lovely sunny morning in spite of the forecast
so that’s something to be happy about
but happy isn’t funny.
I riffle through my corny joke book but she’s heard them all
even the good ones, like what do you call an Igloo without a toilet?
An Ig !
I thought that was pretty good but all it elicited was a groan.
And anyway, how necessary is it to be happy when you’re working?
Take art. Some of the best paintings were birthed in rage and fear.
Think ‘The Scream’ by Munch, Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ or Bacon’s ‘The Screaming Pope’.
You don’t read ‘In Memoriam’ for a good laugh or listen to ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ for a bit of a lift.
These did not come from a happy place.
Sure, being in a happy place helps, but you’re not going to get the dark matter, the weight if you’re buoyant as a balloon.
pic by John Currin on Pinterest
Now it is spent and lying limp
and placid at my feet —
a contentment of inky blue
but the other day if you
could have seen it bucking
with energy , flailing its
wild hair and arching its back
[ sea mountains surfers abseiled
down ] you would not have been
surprised to see it thrust
its loins again and again against
the soft white dunes nor after
to see the body of the foreshore
bruised and torn nor its rump
so foam wracked .
pic by Lachlan-Ross on Pexels
Something is bothering
round and round
a solipsistic fluff
driving us round the bend.
She worries the others.
A few days later
when we let her out she resumes
then huddles beneath
the bird bath
and will not move.
We shift her.
She crawls under a bush
hard to reach.
The cat who often bothers the chooks
leaves her alone.
That night it rains and rains.
In the morning
she is bedraggled
I lift her into the earth.
There isn’t much of her.
The chooks settle after that.
So do we.
He brings me a muffin.
I asked for a blueberry.
I get choc chip.
I asked for a fork.
He brings me a knife.
You’ve got no idea how rude customers can be, he says to a couple at the next table. You don’t know what you’re doing, mate, they sometimes say. Hey! I’ve got backbone. I bite back: Don’t know what I’m doing??? You don’t know what you’re talking about, I say to them. I’ve been in this trade for ten years.
His face is going red. He starts to inflate like a pufferfish. His words bristle.
The couple cower before their coffee.
So how was it, chief? he asks me in passing.
You don’t know what you’re doing, I feel like saying but my mouth is full of muffin.
Instead I give him the thumbs up. It seems the best policy. I’ve made his day.
Those rocks deflect you
from the red-backs
in your mind that crawled off your brush
onto the canvas that morning:
those Ned Kelly heads
staring at me
from the foot of the quarry:
you looking at me, I say.
You looking at me?
I’m the only one here.
Then I come and get you
and those stolid blocks of stone
with eye slits
wallop your imagination.
the ones you’re committing
to canvas so people can stare at them from the walls
of a gallery.
You wanna know what it’s like? He says.
I’ll tell you what it’s like.
It’s like walking around with a ‘Vacant’ sign around your neck.
Like being scooped out by an excavator.
Or being a songbird without a voice.
It’s like walking along a jetty studded with couples clinging to each other like barnacles on pylons.
It’s like being on the esplanade ripping into a pulled pork burger like an animal ‘coz you’re on yr own so it isn’t all bad.
That’s what it’s like.
Did you know the pattern on your nightie matches the pattern of my underpants?
Yes, he says as he pulls down his jeans to show her.
I can see , she says, that your underpants are a little loose in the legs.
I can see more than the pattern of your underpants.
You don’t mean ….
Yes, she says, the crown jewels.
Oooops, he says, as he pulls up his jeans and they collapse in laughter on the beanbag.
I don’t like the way the branches slouch,
my grandfather would have said.
It shows a lack of moral fibre.
Grandfather did not approve of droop
though I think he could have cut the branches
The best people slouch at times.
Oscar Wilde certainly did though he was no slouch.
And Tilda Swinton and Anne Hathaway were spotted
slouching at the Golden Globes.
I like the way Fridays slouch towards the weekend.
Poems should slouch a little too.
They should not appear cinched and pained
as if wearing a tight pair of underpants.
pic courtesy of Wikipedia
They get up, rumpled, a little worse for wear. take a look, hold each other, flinch.
All that clutter.
The humble vessels and instruments of the night before, that wrought such alchemy on a lowly leg of lamb, packaged parsnips, carrots; followed by a serve of dried apricots and flaked almonds, soaked in brandy, all generously washed down with an aged red. Or was it two?
What a night!
But now …. the domestic terror in the sink.
Even alchemists have to clean up their mess.
pic courtesy of Pinterest by John Currin
I had my big guns ready.
The script already rehearsed in my head.
There were some epithets to let fly.
Rebuttals for any diffidence.
I was asking my mercurial mate a favour
one he might bridle at
though I had both barrels loaded
‘after all I’d done for you….’
the rifle was cocked and ready.
I was Chuck Norris, Vin Diesel, Dirty Harry
rolled into one.
When I got him on the phone
and asked, he rolled over like a cat.
I was a little disappointed.