Cliffs I Have Known

Unstable Cliffs, the sign reads. Stay Clear.

And I think of the unstable Cliffs I have known:

The deputy that has a meltdown whenever I call in sick:

my cousin’s boyfriend who punches holes in the wall

when he is denied,

and the glue-sniffing Cliff I taught in Year 11 who fell asleep

on the tracks coming home from a party and was run over by a train.

They should have come with warnings too. 

The Man in the Box has a Few Things to Say

He had a rough time as a kid, a tough time as a teenager, and did hard time as an adult in maximum-security, an ideal upbringing for a Coffin Confessor, a calling Bill Edgar, the author, pioneered.  

You need balls to be a coffin confessor, a job, if you’ll excuse the pun,  he fell into. A coffin confessor gatecrashes funerals, and reads out what his client, the deceased, discloses to him on their deathbed. He is entrusted to let the mourners know the bitter truth that has been largely hidden from them all this time. There is always at least one of the mourners who receives a right royal drubbing, a public flogging by the lash of truth.

He3re is his spiel: “Excuse me, but I’m going to need you to sit down, shut up or fuck off. The man in the box has a few things to say,”

You gotta read this book. Every chapter is rivetting.

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.

waiting to be Called

Please Wait to be Called,

the sign said

So I did.

I took a ticket and waited

behind the others

till it was my turn

at the head of the queue

outside the draughty pearly gates

holding my flimsy little ticket

& when, growing impatient,

I stepped forward,

St. Peter held up his hand:

“There seems to be some problem,”

He said.

“You’ll have to wait a little longer,”

I stamped my feet a little

when a white light flashed overhead

& a door opened behind

& I was whooshed back

to the operating theatre where the surgeons

had revived me.

One step from paradise.





pic courtesy of Pinterest,com

Wished I Never Knew

I wish I had never known.

Wish I had never found out

Wish I had never made that search





But I did. And that was that.

I should have remembered what

curiosity did to the cat.





But I remembered Sunday mornings

at the pool; we would walk up and down

brushing against each other





you in your lane, me in mine, sharing stories,

laughing, not getting much swimming done, giddy

in each other’s presence. We used to joke





we never saw each other in clothes.

You were always glad to see me

you were striking in your black swim suit





and blonde hair; you had an artist’s laugh

but then I had my sudden operation and when

I got back, a month later, you weren’t there.





I didn’t have your number; I asked discreetly

at the desk but they wouldn’t say. I tried Facebook

but you had a strange surname. I assumed





you moved to a pool closer to home or you

were busy with family. Four years later

unattached and lonely, I tracked you down





and found why you never returned.

You died in Feb, 2016. Peacefully at home.

All that time I thought you were alive.





But you had long gone. Death had closed

the gate. If only I hadn’t waited.

If only I’d tried sooner. But I was much too late.

Elephants

I don’t want to watch the elephants being killed

nor stare at Jason Statham’s bloodied bare knuckles on the side of the passing bus

nor listen to the bickering of the lampposts at night

the snarling of stars as their lights flash on/off like strobes

and my brain’s flickering: I’m woozy as a drink after last drunks

I’ve had it up to here, said the ventriloquist in my pocket

and why did the dish run away with the spoon, anyway?

I’m at a loss for words, says the eviscerated dictionary

and I’m at a loss for what to say next

except after the meltdowns on Mother’s Day

I don’t want to watch the elephants being killed

or see the promo of ‘The Wrath of Man’ with Jason Statham’s bloodied bare knuckles on the side of the bus

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.

The Silver Hammer

What’s that? Under the driver’s seat?

A silver hammer.

Maxwell’s?

Lol, No, mine.

What for? In case of a car jacking?

No. In case I’m caught. In a flood.

Pardon?

You remember the floods in NSW a few weeks back when a car tried to drive through a flooded road and the car sank, the driver died? You know what happened?

Not really.

The electronics failed. The driver couldn’t open a door or window to escape. Suffocated. Now if he had a hammer.

Gives a new meaning to the old song, doesn’t it?

What song?

‘If I Had a Hammer’.

Berating a Barramundi

We were talking about Milly, Bev’s cat

who had just butchered a baby blackbird

when Rob went feral.

I have never liked cats, he said. They should be locked up. Murderers all.

Go easy, I said. You ever eat at a restaurant?

Of course, he said.

Ever ordered a barramundi?

Often.

Ever sent it back because it was too fishy?

No, of course not.

Well, I said, you may as well berate a barramundi

for being a fish

as to castigate a cat

for being feline.