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.

Every Poem Should Have ….

Every poem should have a welcome mat.

to let the reader know their little house of words

is warm and inviting; is well kept,

a door bell that chimes rich and melodious,

perhaps a garden gnome suggesting fun, quirkiness

and a bird bath out the front, full to the brim,

where yellow-shouldered honey eaters frolic,

to suggest plenty

The Way

I did not know the way to the waterfall

I was beaten,

hollowed out,

lonely as the last leaf on a tree

tramping, tramping

when suddenly my phone leapt

in my top pocket;

it was my grand-daughters,

their voices

tripping over each other with excitement,

telling me

they were coming to Adelaide,

that I would see them soon,

and suddenly

I was there, refreshed in the waterfall

of their voices,

like a baptism





*pic by Pinterest

A Thing of Beauty

Five skips in a row

is a thing

of beauty

says

Nik

in ‘Wakefield’

referring to skimming a flat rock

across the smooth

surface of a lake;

so too

is that bamboo toothbrush

I used this morning

light as those balsa wood gliders

I flew as a kid

over the paddocks

behind the school;

and those opening chords of ‘Sugar, Sugar’

like being tasered

by God





+pic courtesy of Wikipedia

Parties in my Head

I’ve been having parties

in the top right hand corner of my head

where the music throbs incessantly

and civility is dead





have another drink , one says

I don’t mind if I do

and the hunchback pounds on the old piano

till well past half two





a bulky fist hammers the door

Joe sent for me, he yells

& a smokey eyeball peers out

is this heaven or is this hell?





I wouldn’t mind so much

take less of a dim view

if due courtesies were observed

& I were invited too

You Gotta Be Careful

You gotta be careful what you put up.

It’s like Fish ‘N’ Chips.

One bad batch and people remember.

That bad taste in the mouth.

You gotta serve it up fresh, hot, well salted,

people like salt and it has to have crunch

and zing.

It has to hit those taste buds.

Make the mouth water.

Run with melody.

A good poem is like a bag of fish ‘n’ chips.

Not too fussy.

Just the basics, a little poetry with herbs and spices

and that secret ingredient  people keep talking about.

Something you can savour.

Ponder over for a while.

You develop trust,

Yeh, that little guy behind the counter, he knows how to do it.

And you keep coming back.

That’s how you want it to be.

A good poem is like Fish ‘N’ Chips.

Maybe it was Me

Maybe it was me

maybe it was her

it was some time ago

a bit of a blur





We both grabbed it greedily

we held it for a while

life lowered its fangs

put on a smile





But she had her demons

I had my ways

we were on different pages

in different plays





Maybe it was me

maybe it was her

it was some time ago

al a bit of a blur

The Cookie Man


[in honour of National Cookie Day in the U.S]

I used to give my Sydney Morning Heralds

To the Cookie Man

for his customers to read;

they’d devour the weekend papers with their cookies and cappuccinos

and dream

of the Harbor City they’d visit one day;

and I’d go away feeling

I had spread some wealth:

the Saturday supplements:

Food, Fashion, Film, Fun —

The Land of Plenty

& the Cookie Man would give me

the thumbs up;

Then one day

He was gone,

The whole edifice had crumbled

Like a cookie.

Now my Sydney Morning Heralds are looking

for a new home

& I miss the cookie man

The Magic Robot

He knew everything,

That little green figurine

on a metal base

a gold wand in his hand .

We’d stand him on the board

inside his metal slot

[ It was all done with magnets ,

I explained to my grandson ]

and point him to what

we wanted to know —

the capital of Mongolia , for instance ,

or what was the longest river in the world ?

Then we’d lift him off

place him on this little mirror

surrounded by answers

on the other board

and watch him go .

He’d wobble a little bit

at first

as though he was thinking

then slowly turn and point

to an answer .

He always got it right .

Kids would come over and we’d run

quiz shows

with the robot as quiz master .

There were lots of questions

on lots of topics .

He knew them all .

Then one day his powers died.

And he knew nothing.

We put him out in the shed.

I never got to ask him the big ones

like what will I be when

I grow up

or when the world end will end

or where animals go

when they die ?

For a long , long time

there was nothing

like him .

The along came something

just as good ,

the internet of course .

That’s the Magic Robot

for these times .

You can ask it any thing

you want

though it still can’t answer

the big ones

Max and the Great Big Grin

This is Max.

The birthday boy.

He was 10 years old the other day.

Say happy birthday to Max.

He’s my grand-daughter’s dog.

A lovely, well behaved Labrador.

But recently Max did a Houdini.

Somehow he got out and went for a wander.

When my grand-daughter got home she looked everywhere and began to get anxious. Max has ID on his collar but their house abuts an 80 k zone.

Then a woman phoned.

Your dog is in my backyard, she said. He’s fine.

When she picked Max up he had a great big grin on his face.

What you been up to, Max? she asked.

But Max kept mum.

It must have been good because Max slept very soundly that night and that great big grin was still on his face.