Rumpole

This is Rumpole.

Rumpole is a plaster of Paris statue of a real dog that wandered away nine years ago and never came back.

We tell tales of where he might have gone, what mischief he got up to and the puppies he might have sired.

We still think one day he will find his way back home which is why we leave the side gate open.

Meanwhile the statue is comforting. We know he’s not really there

But every Halloween he cocks his leg and pisses on the pavers to remind us he still is

Mystery on a Bridge

There was someone on the bridge

Curving high over the dark water

About half way along

Then there wasn’t.

Someone with a mop of ginger hair

an orange top and grey track pants

Standing against the railing

Looking wistfully out.

I looked away when a siren sounded

On the headland then looked back.

No splash.

No disturbance of any kind.

No bright lithe form spearing

Through the water.

No one emerging from either end.

Nothing.

Just someone standing on a bridge

Then there wasn’t.

Thoze Cranberries

Thoze Cranberries

in the morning

not the ones you eat

though they’re pretty good too

but the ones you listen to

the ones from Ireland playing now

over the PA system in the mall

‘Dreams’

thoze impossible melodies

thoze haunted lines

playing through my blood

my brain,

such beauty,

such ‘harmonious madness’

hinting at what?

we’ll never know

joy or tragedy?

I go outside.

The day moves slow.

* what piece of music moves you?

A Good Writer Can Do That

You hear those gunshots last night, Matt? Boom, boom, boom , one after the other. Six in a row.

Firecrackers, he chuckled. The kids down the road.

What! You killed the romance, Matt. I had a great piece of flash fiction on the go: about an active shooter on the prowl, a gang fight … it was going to be a ripper. I was up half the night writing it. I couldn’t sleep.

You can still do a great piece of flash fiction, John. Just make it comic, not horror. A good writer can do that.

Tight-Lipped

If you see Millie, let me know, she says as she retires for the night.

I will, I promise.

So I watch the program I want to see

then watch the program I do not want to see

going outside to check during the ad breaks

rattling the tin of biscuits, calling out her name

but there is no sign; and the stars have come out

and the moon glows knowingly but remains tight-lipped

so I go inside to watch another show I do not want to see

going outside at intervals, rattling the old biscuit tin

looking for the cat that does not want to be found.

What’s Coming Down the Pike

You don’t know what’s coming down the pike.

No one does.

Covid-19 showed that.

Now there are rumours of something else.

It doesn’t have a face or name

but the word ‘China’ is often invoked.

But no one knows.

But something is coming.

You can see its shadow.

Hear its footsteps.

Feel it breathing down yr neck.

And I feel like the poet Mark Strand

who always saw something coming down the pike

which is why he always slept, he says,

with one eye open.

Meg

Silky_bantam

Meg is wandering again

in smaller and smaller circles

driving us round the bend.

What is she thinking?

She worries the others.

 

A few days later

when we let her out she begins

circling again until

she huddles beneath the bird bath

and will not move.

 

We shift her.

She crawls under a bush

where she’s hard to reach.

The cat who often bothers the chooks

leaves her alone.

 

That night it rains and rains.

In the morning she’s bedraggled.

Dead.

I lift her into the earth.

There isn’t much of her.

The chooks settle after that.

So do we.

No!

haunted-path

Still they come, she said, the bibles, prayer shawls, letters.

People are very supportive, he said.

But the attic is full of them.

Their grief and incomprehension are still strong. Who can explain such a thing?

And the candy?  Those bags of caramels. It wouldn’t hurt ….

What are you doing? He said, reaching out.

Surely it wouldn’t hurt to have a few? After all, they were meant for us.

No, said Peter Lanza, the father of the Sandy Hook killer, knocking them from her hand. They may be poisoned.

 

 

Forgive Me

torn-wild-west-missing-poster-260nw-291545711

 

Forgive me. I am not myself today.

I wasn’t myself yesterday either.

To tell you the truth, I’m really uncertain whether I will be myself tomorrow.

Or the next day. Or the next.

Where I’ve gone to, I just don’t know.

I have informed the police, the Missing Person’s Bureau.

They have put out an all points alert.

I take time off work.

I go looking for myself in bars, parks, in shopping malls.

I take photographs of myself to show them what I looked like.

Ugly bastard, someone quips.

Go easy, I say. He’s not a bad bloke once you get to know him.

The rest shake their heads sadly.

I go home, hang my hat on the rack and sit down morosely on the old lounge.

Ahh, there you are, I say, almost sitting on top of me.

I was here all along, he says. Where have YOU been?