There Must be Some Nice Things I Can Say about You

Let me see.

There must be some nice things

I can say about you.

I get to hang out with my inner hermit again.

Where you been? he asks sullenly.

Busy, I say, busy. But hey! It’s good to see you.

Can we, you know, have a beer together? Bring in a Pizza? Watch ‘The Farmer Wants a Wife?’

Sure, I say, sure.

We hug each other. It’s like old times. There’s a tear in his rheumy eyes.

I got time now.

I go to the old bookshelf. It’s pretty dusty. Don’t get much reading done when you’re out and about.

And I grab one, that big Collected Graham Greene

and we settle into ‘The Quiet American’.

There are some stories you can’t read enough.

You could do with a shower, I say. So could you, says hermit.

We give each other a playful punch. It’s like old times.

I watch his hands, his fingers twitching. He pulls back the curtain, peers outside.

Do you reckon we could ,,,,?.

Why not? I say. It’s the season for it.

We stoke up the fire, sit side by side, writing our shivery little three liners, haiku on wind, frost, ice, hailstones.

Winter, you’re not all bad.

A Move towards Empathy

“You’re like Lee Chandler,” she said.

“Who?”

“Lee Chandler, the guy Casey Affleck plays in ‘Manchester by the Sea.”

Jackson liked that film but he did not like Lee Chandler, the way he closed himself off from people.

“That saddens me.”

“That you’re like Lee Chandler or that I mentioned it?”

“Both.”

“The reason I brought it up is that I asked you if you’d like to see Anne perform in the ballet from ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and you said you’d give it a miss though I made it clear I’d like you to go.”

“I know. I’ve thought it over and would like to go see her perform.”

“Because you want to or because you’re afraid of being compared to Lee Chandler?”

“Both.”

It was a little late, Jackson admitted. It would have been better if he’d said so straight off but at least it was a move towards empathy. She would have to give him that.

How Many of These Have You Read?

I was chatting with Worms the other day about Proust,

about his masterpiece, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’

and how neither of us had read it; Worms even found

the name ‘Proust’ intimidating; and I thought how many

of the world’s best known works I have never read,

like Longfellow’s ‘Hiawatha’, Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’,

even Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus’ and even though

everyone has heard of it, who’s read Dickens’ ‘Little Dorrit’?

There’s even a short story by David Gilbert devoted to

the George Elliot book that no one I know has ever read,

and few have heard of: ‘Adam Bede’. There must be others.





*can you think of any?

* have you read any of these books?

* what has put you off reading them?

pic of Proust courtesy of Wikipedia

She Needs Cheering Up

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

Spent

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

Meg

Something is bothering

this silkie





She wanders

round and round

the yard

in

a solipsistic fluff

driving us round the bend.

She worries the others.





A few days later

when we let her out she resumes

her circling

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

and dead.

I lift her into the earth.

There isn’t much of her.

The chooks settle after that.

So do we.

How Was It, Chief?

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.

You Looking at Me ?

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.

What it’s Like

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.


			

The Big Reveal

Did you know the pattern on your nightie matches the pattern of my underpants?

Really?

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.

Meaning?

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.