You can’t swat them
with yr hand.
or repel them
with incense coils.
They won’t buy it.
And you can’t
shut them out.
in yr room
Bite. Bite. Bite.
They whinge and they whine.
Those old anxieties, What ifs?
Those mozzies of yr mind.
Today I have the mark of the beast upon me.
It came up overnight,
It cannot be hidden except by a mask
But when I take it off, to eat, to explain a matter,
to simply breather easier, friends,
people recoil at the angry red rash
that runs from the tip of my nose to upper lip,
like birds before a predator.
I cannot shave so look doubly abhorrent.
I am only grateful for covid where a face mask
can be worn without question.
It is my close companion, my Linus blanket.
Iron Man isn’t up to it today.
You can tell by the way he slopes around
in his baggy shorts and tee
dazed like he’s been smoking weed.
He dawdles a lot between reps.
Guzzles the urine coloured liquid to replace the energy he hasn’t used.
Plays with the machines like a cat with a mouse.
Jabbers at Stella how she isn’t doing it right,
to anyone really with a loose ear.
Truly he is more motor-mouth than Iron Man.
The honeysuckle bush out the back can wait.
I mean, how much more fecund
can one plant get
in 24 hours?
But my sister can’t.
She’s in ICU.
But I need to pick up her walker first
in the maze of streets her house is tucked into.
I just hope the German Shepherds are under control this time.
I’m ravenous but that will have to wait.
the toilet call can’t.
And when I get to the hospital I’ve got to find a park
somewhere in the surrounding street and not get lost again.
My equanimity scrambled like eggs.
So many things to accommodate.
That stobie pole like a Good Friday cross.
Then there’s the vertical coffin-shaped box I have to squeeze into
to get to ICU.
One monster at a time.
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
I like your ugg boots, I say to the jetty.
Thank you, it says.
They look sort of … clumpy though, I say.
Well they are heavy duty.
I reckon I wouldn’t mind trying on a pair. For the beach only, of course. Where do you get them?
Well, you have to become a pylon first. You just stand around. They sort of grow on you.
Whoa, I say, don’t reckon I’m ready for that.
Suit yourself , it says.
So off I go to the store on the esplanade to get a pair, off white to match the pylons.
Every time I go to a family gathering and there’s new faces
in the crowd
I’m expected to trot out a few
of my crazy stories
like the time I was struck blind at midday;
but it’s early in the evening
& the crowd
isn’t well oiled
& you have to go in cold.
You feel like calling out, Where’s the Warm-Up Act
to make folks loose & jiggly.
Every comedian needs a warm-up act.
It’s a tough gig working a group that’s cold.
No one should be asked that.
Even the Warm-Up needs a Warm-Up.
As soon as you stand outside someone’s place,
whip out your mobile camera and start taking snaps
of something in the street,
jacaranda flowers, for instance, carpeting the verge,
an ibis making love to a TV aerial,
a drunken, tilting fence,
someone starts singing loudly in a bathroom.
conversations break out in the hallway like a rash.
windows open or close,
to let you know they’re onto you
when all you’re doing is trying to compose a poem.
When did people start growing so suspicious of poets?
Jackson Browne, I say.
Jackson Browne, the singer. You look like him, like he was in the seventies when he was big.
But I can’t sing and I work in a burger bar.
I know, but you’re finishing a degree in International Studies, right? You’ll be a diplomat. And you have his idealism, his energy. One thing though.
Don’t fade. Don’t go sanctimonious on us
I won’t, he says.
And looking at him, his floppy brown hair, chiselled features, slender build, alert eyes, I believe him.