Why I Left


They didn’t sing the songs I liked.

The good old Gospel songs.

That’s why I left.

Songs like, ‘Down to the River to Pray’.

‘Keep on the Sunny Side’,

‘Leaning on the Everlasting Arms’,

songs with grit and passion,

big songs with big voices,

like Mahalia.

Instead they sang ‘white’ songs, marshmallow songs,

watered down, hollowed out, tuneless drones.

I wanted melodies that swung low and lifted me

like that Sweet Chariot.

That’s why I left

Rusty

When I was a kid in High School we learnt things ‘off by heart’:

poems by Keats and Coleridge, extracts from ‘The Ancient Mariner’,

soliloquies from ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Macbeth’, whole passages from Dickens;

chronologies of The Persian Wars, War of the Roses,

biographies of the Tudors; not neglecting the sciences, we memorized

physics and maths formulas,chemical equations, and slabs from The New Testament —

we were walking Wikipedias; now I’m a big kid, into my senior years,

I’ve grown rusty, which is why I’m in the backyard walking up and down —-

the bees must think I’m mad —- learning by heart my NEW mobile number

which everyone but me knows





  • what things did you learn ‘off by heart’?
  • do you still remember them ?

Waiting for the Apocalypse

Bril_Jesus_walking_on_the_Sea_of_Galilee

I am lying in bed waiting for the Apocalypse.

It is due fifteen minutes after midday.

We have been told these things before.

What do they know?

It is sunny outside though clouds are building.

There’s a piffle of a breeze rustling the bush outside my window though I notice it is picking up.

Could there be something in it?

Damn. There’s someone on the phone.

It’s Emily from my insurance company calling from interstate about a failed payment.

I question some details.

Just bear with me a moment, she says, as she scurries off to her superiors.

Don’t be long, I say. The Apocalypse is near.

Pardon?

The Apocalypse’

I’ll put you on hold, she says.

Dogs whine, doors clatter, the sky darkens.

Just then ADT Security phones.

What is wrong with you people? Don’t you know the Apocalypse is nigh?

Silence.

I go out to the verge, bring in the bins, look around. The winds have dropped.

All quiet on the western front.

Gus, the Jack Russel next door, barks at my presence.

It’s okay, buddy. It’s only me. And anyway it’s been postponed.

What has? it barks.

The Apocalypse.

Again?

Yes, again.

What the %$%&#.

Calm your farm, buddy.  We get to live another day.

I go inside, wait for the next alert.

 

Le Coq

6982996-cock-chanticleer-rooster-cartoon-illustration

 

It wasn’t Miro’s colourful coq

Nor Chaucer’s Chanticleer

Nor the one that crowed three times when Peter

Denied Jesus.

 

It was just a garden variety rooster

That waddled onto the page

When my back was turned

& scrabbled between the lines

 

Before I sent him on his way

feathers all ruffled

Into a sunset red

as a coxcomb.