Cows in a Paddock

Someone once told me you can tell what the weather

Will be like by studying cows in a paddock.

If they’re standing, she said, there’d be

a good chance of rain, whereas if they were lying down,

you could count on fine weather. Or it might have been

The other way around. What a load of bull, I thought.





What if half were standing and half were lying down?

Would that mean a 50% chance of fine weather, or to put it another way,

A 50% chance of rain, depending on whether you were

A glass half- full or a glass half -empty sort of person? It seemed a little dodgy.

What if, for instance, in one paddock all the cows were lying down

while in another, they were practising synchronised standing?

Wouldn’t one cancel out the other?





And why cows?

What about prognosticating pigs, soothsaying sows, auguring alpacas?

The list goes on. I decided to go back to the Bureau forecasts.

At least they get it right half the time.

My Sliding Doors Moment

Not ‘the last train to Clarkesville’.

Nor ‘the midnight train to Georgia’

Not even ‘the downtown train’ that Tom Waits

and Rod Stewart rode on vinyl

but that old steam train that took me all the way

from the monastery where I was sequestered

to be a priest, on the verge of making my final vows

to a life in the ‘real world’. where I met the woman who would be my wife.

and the mother of my three kids,

a career as a teacher, a writer, and the grandfather of six more kids,

the apples of my life,

a sliding doors moment:

the most momentous train ride I ever made.

Tricky

Not ‘selfish’, she says. more ‘difficult to get on with’.

Ahhh, I say, that’s code for ‘tricky’.

I know I am. My best mate is too.

Human beans are ‘tricky’ all around.

They don’t grow straight. They grow with all sorts

of genetic quirks; there’s always something askew,

that rubs people up the wrong way, that chafes.

How people live together, I don’t know.

Sometimes I have trouble just living with me.

I’m not a one trick pony, but I am tricky.

pic courtesy of Pinterest

How Could I Not?

I put up a post the other minute that I knew might offend people but I wanted to honour the veracity of the experience. Would it be more acceptable if the man was the one shouting, and he was the bear of the title rather than his female partner? She did unleash a scatological attack upon the poor guy. What he had done was unclear; more likely it was what he hadn’t done. The title of the piece was unavoidable, though might have been more acceptable were it the man hurling abuse.

It was what happened. Security was called. I overheard the remark, ‘woman screaming in the mall’. It was quite an event. It stopped everyone in their tracks. I could bend over backwards to sugar-coat the experience or ignore it but I’m a writer. How could I not respond to it?

No Wonder

No wonder there are so many love songs.

There are so many ways of getting love wrong.

Most celebrate one or more of these.

There’s more mileage in them than in ecstasy,

a much rarer state to which we all aspire,

happy to burn in love’s all cancelling fire ,

shortcomings forgotten, emotions turbo-charged,

our lives in an instant totally enlarged.

These songs are the apex of creativity

even as they approach ineffability.

*what are some of your favourite love songs?

Baths

a boat shaped vessel with room for one

when you clamber into a bath you are captain, crew, passenger

rolled into one

yet baths require no special skills

nor do they stand on ceremony; in this they are like some beaches:

dress is entirely optional

entering a bath you enter a topsy-turvy world where water fills the craft

not surrounds it — though baths will never sink

head back, you settle down but are going nowhere: baths have no destinations nor sails

yet people have been known to drift off in baths emerging rosy-skinned

and luminous as if fresh from a voyage

*pic courtesy of Pinterest

Showers

Showers acupuncture skin , pummel

angry muscles

into submission ;

like coffee they

kick-start us into action ,

the quick fix , the jab for our frenetic times but

they are ill suited

to contemplation or insight —

Archimedes

would have discovered nothing under a shower ;

nor are they

conducive to knowledge ; you cannot

read under showers nor

can you write unless it is wet verse ;

moreover showers only cater

for one side at a time — leaving  the

other blue with cold ;

in this

baths are more inclusive immersing us

like icebergs with only

the head above water ;

showers have

much to learn ;

young upstarts , they lack the noble

ancestry of baths yet

arrogantly tower above them  ; their heads

must constantly be lowered

* which do you prefer: showers or baths?
* if you were asked to write a bath poem what would your opening lines be?