Where is Raymond?
Everyone loves Raymond.
But no one is saying.
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
Something is bothering
round and round
a solipsistic fluff
driving us round the bend.
She worries the others.
A few days later
when we let her out she resumes
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
I lift her into the earth.
There isn’t much of her.
The chooks settle after that.
So do we.
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 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
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
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 disturbance of any kind.
No bright lithe form spearing
Through the water.
No one emerging from either end.
Just someone standing on a bridge
Then there wasn’t.
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
thoze impossible melodies
thoze haunted lines
playing through my blood
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?
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.
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.
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.