What Happiness Is

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You know what happiness is? he said.

Contentment? I suggested.

Not even close, he said through the burnished orange of this late autumn afternoon.

Money? Wealth?

Come on, he said. You know better that that.

Then what? I asked.

Curiosity.

What?

It’s not true what they say about cats, you know. That old proverb about curiosity killed the cat. It’s to stop you changing lanes.

You’re beginning to sound like a zen poet, I said. Like Li Po.

Become like a cat, he said. Go out into the world, cat-curious. You can never NOT be happy if you’re finding out things.

 

do you agree?

where is happiness found for you?

what is the chief impediment for happiness, do you think?

 

 

Irony Side Up

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Would you bring my boxer shorts, mate?

You mean the ones with ‘The Most Perfect Man in the World’ emblazoned on the butt?

Yes, those, he chuckles.

I go into his room.

A half eaten meal, a stubbie with some beer in it, the radio still on.

A damp towel on the bed.

Signs of a quick exit.

A bit like the Marie Celeste.

Ahhh, I say as I fumble through his drawers.

A few minutes later I head off to The Remand Centre

Where TMPM has just been charged

For a cold case murder

18 years ago.

Beside me are the boxer shorts, neatly folded,

Irony side up.

Who Would Do That?

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Who would do that?

Put a dead pigeon in yr rubbish bin?

If it was good enough

To put in my bin

Why wasn’t it good enough

To put in theirs?

O the stink,

The weight of it!

I shovelled it out of the bin

And tossed it,

Neck all crumpled,

Into the far right hand corner of the garden

Where it could decay

In dignity

Among the cluster of leaves.

The only good thing is

It’s given me something rancorous

To write about.

 

have you had any incidents with neighbors or strangers re your rubbish bins?

A Petulance of Poets*

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Not a flock of seagulls

Nor a murder of crows

But a petulance of poets

Gathered in the conference room

Of the public library

Each champing at the bit

For their turn to read

Not really listening

to others

But when their turn comes,

Oh the words, the words,

Such melody, such sweetness, such wit.

Was ever anything ….

Barely noticing that many who had already read

Had gone home or hit the bar

down the street.

They rattle on regardless.

Where’s the stage manager when you need him?

 

 

* ‘They never listened to one another; they were preoccupied with waiting for their turn’ [Jean Stafford: ‘An Influx of Poets’]

Lost

 

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I met him on a winding path beneath the bridge

leading to the zoo. I had lost my girl. He had lost

the plot though I did not know it then.

 

We talked briefly beside the banisters as a blue

Kayak passed us by. Before his accomplishments —

his CV baggy with published poems — I

 

was lost for words. I blubbered something

about his latest book. “Take care,” I remember him

saying. “He’s always had his head in the clouds”,

 

a fellow poet once said of him. Perhaps that’s why

a week later he climbed to the roof of a big city hotel

and stepped off.