But is it poetry, John?

But is it poetry, John?

You mean, is it like Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’

you know the one, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’

or ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’?

Probably not.

Well, How about Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost?

Come on, we’re talking 2020 here.

Then what?

A little bit of Billy Collins, I say, and Billy Connelly,

a sort of mad mix, the demotic and demonic.

We let our dirty laundry hang out. moon the pious,

but always in an Aussie accent. Your country first.

Does it have to rhyme? you ask. Probably not.

It’s not like Aussie Rules. There are no rules.

Though it’s a game anyone can play.

Just let it rattle off the tongue, roll off the mind,

Ignore the referees.

Have fun.

I Like Graphic Novels

I like graphic novels.

I always have.

I like the illustrations.

It’s the little kid in me.

I always wanted to be an illustrator

but I never got past

little stick men, sorry, people.

I like that they can tell a novel-size story

in 64 pages or less

when some writers – I am thinking Pasolini here —

can push it up to 900 pages.

Come on!! as Lleyton Hewitt would say.

I have my little list of favourites:

‘Wilson’ by Daniel Clowes and ‘A Taste of Chlorine’

by that French author

and ‘Maus’, of course, the classic by Art Spiegel.

I remember the excitement when I purchased

‘The Dark Knight Returns’ by Frank Miller when it first came out.

It was like when I bought the just released “Revolver’ by the Beatles

and ran down the ramp of the Adelaide Railway Station to catch

the train home so I could play it on the turntable

only to come a cropper at the end.

It was that kind of excitement.

When in doubt, choose a graphic novel, I say.

66 Days

It took 66 days for Bobby Sands to starve himself to death.

It took me many years to starve my mind of the fear of public speaking

& though I have come a long way & people praise my confidence

it is still a work-in-progress

  • what fears have you overcome either partially or fully?
  • mural in Belfast courtesy of Wiki Commons

This is For You, she said

Maybe because I was slipping away into the comfortable, undemanding

arms of magazines, she gave me a brand new bookmark from ifaw.

Now all you have to do is find a book to put it in, she said.

It’s like someone buys you a pair of slippers for your birthday,

you’ve got to get a dressing gown to go with them, and then a box of cigars

and a bottle of tawny port like an English gentleman to get you through

the evening and a cozy murder mystery to curl up with before the fire

& suddenly I knew what type of novel I wanted.

  • what book have you got .lined up to read?
  • do you smoke cigars, drink tawny port and curl up before the fire of a winter evening?

Wolf Down

A few years ago I read a book called Wolf Hall.

Now I’m writing about Wolf Down

what the cat does with food when it’s been stuck

on the roof all day;

what we do now

wolfing down pleasure,

sunshine,

the great outdoors,

going for drives,

doing stuff together,

hoping to outfox the old virus for another day.

When I Come Back

When I come back

I want to come back as a book.

No matter how rambunctious, vitriolic,

passionate the life within,

I can’t get over how composed

each one looks.

  • if you could come back as a book, which character would you choose to be?

Collections of Jokes Do Not Win Pulitzer Prizes

A short story though it may be funny is not a joke.

The last line of a joke is the punchline.

The last name of a story has no name.

You remember a punchline.

You do not remember the last line of a story.

You may remember the first —- I still remember the opening lines of David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities — but I do not remember the last.

No one does.

You tell people jokes.

You do not tell short stories.

Short stories have an author.

Jokes do not.

No one knows who the first person was to tell a joke that does the rounds.

Jokes are short.

Short stories, except those of Lydia Davis, are comparatively long.

Collections of jokes do not win Pulitzer prizes.

Collections of short stories do.

I like them both.

There is one way short stories and jokes are alike: the good ones you like to hear or read over and over again..

Seized

You went after that photo like it was prey, she said. You were a fox, a panther, ferocious, determined.

You make it sound heroic.

It was also stupid, she snapped. There was no place to stop. You could have been hit by a car, that blue sedan in the photo, for instance, that beeped you to get off the road,

There was no other way, I said.

You could have let it go.

Never, When you are seized, you have no choice. You go after it like Amy Winehouse goes after the chorus of ‘Valerie’ or Eric Clapton the elation chords of ‘Layla’. There is total surrender to the feeling.The pursuit is everything.

The photo isn’t even that good, she said.

I got what I wanted. The sign. I would have climbed a precipice to get it

Sometimes I don’t understand you, she said.

Come on, I said, grabbing her hand, as we hopped back in the car and continued our journey, that sign disappearing in the rear-view

Fridays circa 5p.m.

There’s nothing I like better doing

than sitting here in a quiet corner

of the pub

with my Mongolian beanie on

waiting for my mates to rock up

while I have a quiet read.

I know it smacks of vanity

when I pull out my iPhone

and scroll through my posts,

reading what I said, what others said,

how many likes I got.

I like what I wrote and how I say it:

the long, slouching sentences,

the laconic phrases

[Hey! I’m an Ausssie]

the odd syntax here and there

[ like the first line of this post ].

One should be as comfortable in one’s voice

as in the clothes one’s wearing.

I like the merry banter of patrons in the bar too,

the warm embrace of companionship

as I like to gather my poems around me

like boon companions

until my real friends, my flesh and blood friends,

turn up