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.

Peepholes

There used to be a man, a hobo, who drifted in to our town.

He was selling peepholes from a brown burlap bag.

It was like a lucky dip.

You gave him a few coins and you’d reach in

& pull out a peephole.

You might get lucky, the man said.

You might pick out the one that looks into the universe the moment it was born

or the one that sees who took the Beaumont children

from Glenelg Beach on New Year Day, 1966.

Everyone wanted to know that, especially the parents.

But mostly we got ones that looked at the tree behind it or a flock of black clouds roaming like sheep

in the pasture of the sky.

One day he fell asleep against an old gum in the park

and we looked through his peepholes.

They were all the same,

None peered into a secret place.

They all looked at what was the other side of the peephole.

The man began to wake up.

We shoved the peepholes in his bag and ran off.

We didn’t need a peephole to see through him..

Looking at the Long, Narrow Columns

Looking at the long, narrow columns of ‘Le Coeur Immense’

and trying to read the text with the French I have long forgot

is like that time I rode the train having just purchased my copy  

of Sgt. Peppers that no radio station had yet been allowed

to play and trying to hear the ornate aural castles the Beatles

had constructed from reading the lyrics on the album’s

psychedelic sleeve

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.