They look more like gizmos than birds,
cartoonish cut-outs that flock outside
the house that time has marauded,
freaking out the orange tabby next door;
one gives me a mean-dog look
as I snap him with my camera:
you sneery snake perve, it says ;
‘bin chickens’, ‘dumpster divers’,
they look more like street people
scraggling for scraps than Sacred Ibis
Please Don’t Stare.
It’s not as bad as the horns
on Hellboy’s head
even when filed down to stubs
or the protrusions
on Elephant Man’s face
or that raspberry stain the shape of Africa
on the barista’s cheek that day in the mountains
but the volcanic cone,
a miniature Vesuvius,
on my forehead
is an eye popper
and looks like it’s about
to go off.
- pic courtesy of Wikipedia
Is This How it Happens?
He drove down to the Tobacconist to buy her some cigs.
There was someone new there today.
Yes? he was asked.
That’s when it happened.
20, 20 …..It’ll come to me in a minute.
But it didn’t.
He had forgotten the mantra. The words that come one after the other. He had forgotten the first word. If he knew that, the rest would come.
He had to drive back home and ask.
What an idiot, he thought.
It wasn’t as bad as forgetting the groceries in the shopping trolley then driving off without them.
That was ten years ago.
But it wasn’t good.
She told him.
Then he drove back and said it: 20 Classic Gold Signature, thanks, Red.
It felt good like rattling off a formula for the chemistry teacher in Year 12. Or a soliloquy from Hamlet.
He was on top of things again.
I like nothing better at night or on languid afternoons
than to curl up on the couch with Tessa Hadley
reading me one of her tales,
familiar yet fresh, cozy yet curdling at the core
like a Victorian murder mystery
We were reminiscing rainbows at the writers’ workshop when the mentor
snapped: Get out of the picture. You’re spoiling the view. Let the vision
remain. So I did. I got out and wrote this:
A bright rainbow
a gentle crop
Listen to the sea , my granddad said
as we stood on the soft white sand .
And he clamped the shell to my ear
like a mobile phone . Listen , he said ,
listen . And we grew silent . It was
at first like listening to a garbled
conversation or the radio between
stations but then it settled — and I could
hear inside this shell which wound back
inside itself like a spiral staircase
the whoosh and wash of a distant sea —
for this one was silent —- and for a moment
it was as if I were an astronomer
listening in through his radio telescope
to the hum of the universe
His legs, protruding from baggy shorts,
are thick as pylons.
He walks like a jetty would wade
He works long hours in a candy store
hunched over his tiny laptop.
Not many customers come in.
Is candy on the nose?
*pic courtesy of Pinterest
Unstable Cliffs, the sign reads. Stay Clear.
And I think of the unstable Cliffs I have known:
The deputy that has a meltdown whenever I call in sick:
my cousin’s boyfriend who punches holes in the wall
when he is denied,
and the glue-sniffing Cliff I taught in Year 11 who fell asleep
on the tracks coming home from a party and was run over by a train.
They should have come with warnings too.
Pounding the pavements of Portland,
grim, gaunt , hunch-backed,
no singing, cheery, Disney
hunchback of Notre Dame
bandy-legged, bushy eyebrowed,
Quasimodo, orange vis jacket
looks like an angry bee.
I wasn’t going to wear it. ‘A hoodie is not a cardigan’, I said.
‘Anything that does up at the front is a cardigan’, he insisted.
‘A flack jacket does up at the front; is that a cardigan?’ I said.
We were off and running like the cabbie who couldn’t get us
to the venue fast enough. And then he started on my silver hammer,
why I used the word ‘silver’ when the important word was ‘hammer’.
I could have hit him over the head. And then he said I was embellishing
the tale. ‘I’m a writer’ I pronounced from the saddle of my high horse.
‘It’s the writer’s prerogative to embellish,’
‘You call yourself a writer,’ he said. ‘Your poetry doesn’t even rhyme.’
Now I admit calling him a ‘Neanderthal’ didn’t help matters.
But it’s not just writers who are prickly.