No Special Hurry

The crow

in the crossbars of

the power pole

is saying, Hey John.

You don’t have to worry, man.

You are not one of those who bring so much courage

to the world that it has to kill you

So don’t ruffle your feathers.

Pardon? I say.

I can read you like a book, he says, speaking of which

‘But it will break you.

It breaks everyone.

But you are one of those strong in the broken places’,

as Hemingway would say.

You read Hemingway?

Of course, who do you think I’m quoting?

You are a most learned crow, I say.

But it will kill you, he says,

‘It kills everyone

the very brave and very gentle

but if you are neither of these it will still kill you

but there will be no special hurry’.

That is sort of comforting, I say. Thank you.

‘Farewell to Arms’, he adds. Due attribution.

You should read it sometime.

I think I have, but not with the diligence you accorded it.

And with a flick of his suave black wings, he flies away.

The Three Most Important Things

The man who looks like an aging, portly Dick Van Dyke

wheels his walker towards me

in the Aged Care Centre’s library.

Are you a new resident? he asks.

No, I laugh, just having a quiet read while my partner visits

a resident.

Who are you?

I’m the Welcome Ambassador, he says,

brandishing his badge.

I welcome new residents.

I cheer them up. Show films in the hall.

‘Life of Brian’, ‘Carry on ‘ films, that sort of thing.

Get them to concentrate on the important things of life

when they’re down.

How do you do that? I ask.

I tell them a story about the time I almost died.

That sounds cheery, I say.

Would you like to hear it?

If I said no, would that stop you? I say.

He chuckles and gets on with it.





 Well, I had a heart attack ten years ago.

They thumped my heart with a ,,, what do you call it?

A defibrillator?

Yes, that’s it. I was between life and death. It could have gone either way. Do you know what they asked me?

No.

They asked me what the three most important things in my life were

and that I should think about them.”

What did you say? I ask.

Doritos, Tim Tams and cappuccinos.

[Had I heard right?]

What about your wife? I ask.

Yes, her too, of course.

But they were the first three things I thought of.

And are they still?

Yes. They keep me going.

What about your wife?

Yes. Her too.

So, he says, bending forward, eyes querying me.

So what are the three most important things

in your life?

Not Tim Tams, I say. Not Doritos. I like dark chocolate. Red wine.

My kids, I add. Them too.

That’s what you concentrate on whenever you feel like … you know.

Yes, I do,

I thank the Welcome Ambassador as he shuffles off back to his office.

He could do with losing some weight.

Dairy Dreams

As soon as I began reading it, ‘The Ice Cream Palace,’ I began to have dairy dreams.

Don’t you know it is forbidden, I said. I banished you from my diet years ago.

But the dream  pulled up to me like a Mr. Whippy van chiming.

What could I do?

I settled back into my vanilla-and–pistachio armchair and read Gianni Rodari’s deliciously delightful tale.

My eyes greedily licked every sentence.

I scooped the words up with pleasure.

They melted in my mouth.

The residue ran down my chin in rainbow rivulets.

What I Saw on the Way

Beth put up a post yesterday about the joys of walking, not just the health benefits but what you come across on the way.

Here are some of the things I came across:

water tumbling over stones

a brindled dog all skin and bones

frogs jamming in baritone

the bumblebees’ gingery drone

horses cantering on their own

one jet black, the others roan,

sad girl sitting all alone

hunched over her mobile phone

I Liked You Had an Electric Blanket

I liked you had an electric blanket, he said.

I really warmed to that. I liked too

you had a back yard big as a beach





and that waves of love flowed through you.

back then; I liked how we took barefoot walks

along the sand on summer night, the stars





fiery with desire, the hot kisses, but memory

tends to polish things up. to add a gleam

that wasn’t always there;





the cat never took to me and in the end you

didn’t take to me either; our little edifice of love

smashed like a sandcastle by the waves

Devil of a Night

They were in a little cottage out the back with nothing to write about on a dark and stormy night. Delia, a tall, strapping, Scandinavian woman, with long greyish blond hair down to her waist, had just given them, a small group of seniors, fifteen minutes silent writing during the class on short story writing. You should be able to come up with something, she said,almost despairing of her hopelessly floundering flock. This was the second session and still not a word had been written. The thunder boomed and lightning flashed helpfully as if to provide prompts. Delia paced up and down out the front working herself into a froth.  

Just then, as if on cue, the door flew open, and a drug-addled man with straggly blond hair and  black tank top stormed in, neck and arms swathed in devil tatts,  shouting obscenities in a strange guttural language, throwing chairs around the room thankfully with no one in them, and then with his anger quenched, stormed out again. Where’s Security when you need them, fumed D who immediately phoned the police. Suddenly everyone started furiously writing. Delia could  not stop them.

pic by pretty sleepy on pixabay

Is it Character then?

Is it the characters, then?

No, it is not.

Scenery. dialogue,

intrigue,

the machinations of plot?

No, it is not.

Really? None of the above?

Then, pray tell, what?

Far more important

than any of those,

he says,

is vivacity,

the vivacity of the prose.





* what is it you most treasure in a short story?

pic courtesy of Pixabay

Wish I Had a Name

I wish I had a name

something exotic like Sterling Holy White Mountain,

the name of the author whose story I’m reading now.

Not my name.

My name is bland as white bread, white as the face cream

my mother used to apply,

and shorn of all mantric significance,

It’s cute and cuddly like ‘Iggy’.

I want something mildly mischievous like ‘Flea’ or ‘Slash’.

‘Slash’ is good but I’d settle for something less edgy

as long as it was colourful. ‘Vance Blossom’, for instance,

named after a deep-pink velvet used on a sofa for the Cobble Hill line.

It is apt as I like to lounge around.  

Chandler, Chandler Manning, I like — I made that one up,

the sort of guy

who doesn’t run away from fights or who is scared of lifts,

a bit like me in my more mythic moments.

The Mermaid Question

Seven year olds will always ask, at some stage when you are least ready for it, the mermaid question.

Granddad, Tina asks me, how do mermaids go to the toilet?

While you are grappling with this one, they ask another, THE BIG KAHUNA of questions, usually in the car while you are driving them to or from some event:

Grandad, where would I be if you and grandma never got married?

It’s the sort of question you need to pull over the side of the road for, but I kept on driving, hoping an apt answer would ‘pop’ into my head. Where’s the Muse when you need her? Surely she’d good for things other than poetry.

I don’t know what you would have done? I mean, how do you answer a question like that? There’s an obvious answer but that might depress the hell out of her, Who wants to be confronted at that age with self obliteration? And there’s the ontological answer but she wouldn’t get it.

I thought I’d go with the mermaid answer. That’d be the easier of the two …. maybe.

The Sitting Duck

Every time I sit out the back on my three chairs a bloody poem

comes into my head. The Muse is not silly. She sees me sitting there, happily

drifting off like a Labrador in the winter sun





and says, ‘Aha: there’s a sitting duck’. I don’t know if sitting on fewer

chairs or more would make a difference. I suppose I could experiment.

I could bluff my way into intensity by having a book of heft





say ‘Sabbath’s Theatre’ open in front of me and my glasses resting

professorially on the bridge of my nose, my chin resting on my hand

in faux concentration. Maybe that would work





but She’s not buying it; She nudges up to me, the swish of Her gown

over the carpet of bluebells, the murmur of bees, Gus, the Jack Russel

yelping at ghosts next door, and says, I’ve got one for you





and She whispers a line in my ear, and she sure has, and I leap out

of my three chairs and dash into my study, onto my laptop where I’m

pounding down this poem, the one you’re reading,  right now