Where’s Raymond?

Where is Raymond?

Everyone loves Raymond.

But no one is saying.

They’re tight-lipped.

Christine is gone too.

But no one is asking after her.

It’s Raymond we love,

Raymond the Joker,

the Energiser Bunny that kept

the whole thing humming,

the convivialist who could talk

to children, animals.

Why, he could talk to a stone

& it’d open up.

Did he blot his copybook?

Perhaps he ran off with Christine,

some wag suggests.

The world just seems smaller

without Raymond.

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.

One Special Place

I thought about what Fiona had said,

the female lead in ‘The Bear Came Over the Mountain’

about her developing interest in Iceland,

how she looked at travel guides,

read accounts of famous writers who had visited,

Auden, William Morris,

but didn’t really plan to travel there herself.

There ought to be one place,

she said,

one special place,

‘you thought about and knew about

and maybe longed for

but never did get to see’

*have you a place like this?

Bridges

Not Katherine Anne Paterson’s Bridge

to Terabithia,

the one that Leslie and Jess cross

to get to their magic kingdom.

Nor that bridge too far.

Not the one Over Troubled Waters.

Nor that terrible one on the River Kwai.

Not even the bridges you burn

so there’s no turning back

but that rope suspension bridge

dangling high over the gully

that me and my faithful mutt, Salem,

can’t bring ourselves to cross

photo by Andre Amaral on Unsplash.com

They’ve Taken Way the Steps


They’ve taken away the steps

the ones leading to the first floor

where JB HiFi is

cordoned off ‘coz of covid

the ones I climbed for practice

in case I made The Great Wall

but there are other steps

to keep in mind

that Stairway To Heaven

for instance

the one we all have to climb

to get to our Heavenly home

but if the climb takes as long

as the eight minutes of the song

we all might be in a spot of bother;

hopefully St. Peter has a rescue brigade

of angels on call

or a St, Bernard or two with a small barrel

of whisky around their necks

for those who didn’t practice often enough

on Earth





 
 
 

End of the Line

I’m sorry, he said, shrugging his shoulders. There’s nothing I can do.

But surely …

I’ve never seen it this bad. Not in all my years. They’ve always responded to treatment. I threw everything at it.

But you’re ….

I know. We’re the paramedics of the trade but we can’t perform miracles.

We bowed our heads.

Then I’ll see you to the door. Thanks for trying,

And off he drove in his clean white van, the firm’s logo on the side.

Well, I said, it looks like the end of the line for you. Sorry, old mate. You heard the man. You have to go. Time for an upgrade. A new laptop.

Inherit the Day

You inherit another day.

So what are you going to do with it?

Melancholize ?

Rhapsodize ?

What?

Sift through it for cigarette butts?

Scrambled messages on billboards?

What you gunna do?

Rehearse it like a song you’re going to record?

Look it straight in the eye?

Shoulder your way through it like an NRL star?

Squeeze the juice right out of it?

Hitch a ride on it?

Or lean against it like a lamp post and watch it amble by?

You inherit another day.

So what you gunna do?

Shooting Star

I was driving back from the gym when I heard it

for the very first time,

that unmistakable voice,

a little gravely now, less freewheeling,

that knocked me  right out of orbit.

It was one of those moments when you have to pull over

to the side of the road, and give yourself

completely to the song;

“Purple Rain’ was like that,

Neil Young’s ‘After the Gold Rush’

and the soaring piano, guitar segue from ‘Layla’.

You receive the stigmata of otherness.

It changes your whole day and lingers for weeks.

 Perhaps never leaves you.

Then there’s the personal accounting,

where you’ve messed up, missed out,

fallen short of the mark, the roads not taken.

It takes a song to shake you like this:

‘Guess it’s too late to say the things to you,

you needed to hear me say,

Seen a shooting star tonight

slip away’.





*what songs have the power to transport you?

The Woods

The rash on my back

has dimmed:

angry red

to demure blush.

I wish I never

had thrush

in my left nostril —

in that cramped cave

hard for the air

to get through

but the meds kept

the wolf at bay,

subdued.

Almost out of the woods

like Red Riding Hood.

And You Laughed

When I drove my daughter to her friend’s new place

in the Adelaide Hills

she turned on her phone’s GPS system

as we took

one branching road, then another,

scores of roads branching up, down, across

that went on for miles

deeper & deeper

into

the dark woods

& you said, we’re getting closer, only a few miles now

& I said,

Christ, how do they ever find their way out of here

each morning

& you laughed

but eventually we found it, we got there.

You be okay finding your way out, dad without the GPS?

& I said, sure, how hard can it be?

then I took off

winding my way back and forth

for miles,

there were so many possibilities,

almost running out of fuel & patience

till I stumbled upon multiple forks any of which looked good

so I took one

& that’s when I learnt the difference between

a labyrinth and maze:

a maze is multicursal [ many branches] while a labyrinth

is unicursal [one branch].

I was in a maze.

A labyrinth is easier.





  • pic courtesy of pinterest