Backs to the Sea

People who live here, he said, live with their backs to the sea.

And I said, how could anyone turn their backs to the sea?

And I thought of mum, before she was hauled away, saying,

I want to go back to the sea again,

how she sounded like Miranda the mermaid who had strayed

from her home

but when she got her wish, when we got her into a retirement home

on the esplanade, she grew jaded.

What’s wrong, mum? we asked.

I want to go home, she said. I want to go back where I lived with dad.

But you’ve got a ringside seat, mum, to the Southern Ocean. A view to die for.

It’s not the same, she said, not when you see the same thing day after day.

But we sat with her, watching the red sun sit on the lip of the horizon like a wafer,

the seabirds flying home, and a kind of calm settled on her.

Secrets

There should be secrets

For us to ponder

to worry about.

Not everything need be known

like how we got here

on this island Earth,

Why God put us here,

the point of suffering,

of brain tumors, cancer?

why some people sail through life

while others ….

What’s it all about, Alfie?

Like the house across the street.

Who lived there? Why did they go?

Why has it been left to ruin?

I could ask the guy raking the leaves

in the house next door

but if I knew, I couldn’t ponder.

There should be secrets.

There should be secrets.

The Last of the Romantics

This time he’s really shitted off.

Had a turd of a day

and now he’s come home to find

dog poo AGAIN

on his freshly mown lawn.

His fury diarrhoeas out

of his mouth, and here we draw the veil of decorum

over the expletives to protect our readers.

A little calmer now he pulls out his pen,

the ballpoint

he uses to write romantic missives to his love

and pens

a warning. on the nearest stobie poll,

a friendly warning

but its double-barrelled exclamation marks cannot hide his intent.

He grabs

a can of beer, and plonks himself near the front window,

watching, watching.

A Move towards Empathy

“You’re like Lee Chandler,” she said.

“Who?”

“Lee Chandler, the guy Casey Affleck plays in ‘Manchester by the Sea.”

Jackson liked that film but he did not like Lee Chandler, the way he closed himself off from people.

“That saddens me.”

“That you’re like Lee Chandler or that I mentioned it?”

“Both.”

“The reason I brought it up is that I asked you if you’d like to see Anne perform in the ballet from ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and you said you’d give it a miss though I made it clear I’d like you to go.”

“I know. I’ve thought it over and would like to go see her perform.”

“Because you want to or because you’re afraid of being compared to Lee Chandler?”

“Both.”

It was a little late, Jackson admitted. It would have been better if he’d said so straight off but at least it was a move towards empathy. She would have to give him that.

The Big Reveal

Did you know the pattern on your nightie matches the pattern of my underpants?

Really?

Yes, he says as he pulls down his jeans to show her.

I can see , she says, that your underpants are a little loose in the legs.

Meaning?

I can see more than the pattern of your underpants.

You don’t mean ….

Yes, she says, the crown jewels.

Oooops, he says, as he pulls up his jeans and they collapse in laughter on the beanbag.

Flinch

They get up, rumpled, a little worse for wear. take a look, hold each other, flinch.

All that clutter.

The humble vessels and instruments of the night before, that wrought such alchemy on a lowly leg of lamb, packaged parsnips, carrots; followed by a serve of dried apricots and flaked almonds, soaked in brandy, all generously washed down with an aged red. Or was it two?

What a night!

But now …. the domestic terror in the sink.

Even alchemists have to clean up their mess.

pic courtesy of Pinterest  by John Currin

Macabre Memory: Warning

The cat left no suicide note





unlike the farmer who died

in the same way

head swathed in cling wrap

like a cellophane mummy

note fabricated:

he met with foul play.

His wife the killer — Insurance —

eager for a big pay.





But who would asphyxiate a cat

& dump it by the riverside

where dreamy poets wander

& children play?

.

The Cutting Caption

M is in her cups.

Any moment now, the kookaburra cackle

the cutting off, like a hoon driver on the highway.

But for the time being I’m holding the table, telling the tale of the silver hammer beneath the front passenger seat of my car, what happens when my girlfriend spots it.

The little group leans forward, intent.

But it reminds M of something and she’s hyper now, jumps in, raucous.

This time I’m ready for her.

I took a photo today I’d like to show you. It’s for you, I say.

You did? Really?

Yes, I say, bringing it up on the screen, passing it across to her.

It’s what you do when you cut people off, how you make them feel. It’s kind of a metaphor.

She has a close look. Ouch,, she says. Lopped?

Yes, lopped.

Peepholes

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..

No Special Hurry

The crow

in the crossbars of

the power pole

is saying, Hey John.

You don’t have to worry, man.

You are not one of those who bring so much courage

to the world that it has to kill you

So don’t ruffle your feathers.

Pardon? I say.

I can read you like a book, he says, speaking of which

‘But it will break you.

It breaks everyone.

But you are one of those strong in the broken places’,

as Hemingway would say.

You read Hemingway?

Of course, who do you think I’m quoting?

You are a most learned crow, I say.

But it will kill you, he says,

‘It kills everyone

the very brave and very gentle

but if you are neither of these it will still kill you

but there will be no special hurry’.

That is sort of comforting, I say. Thank you.

‘Farewell to Arms’, he adds. Due attribution.

You should read it sometime.

I think I have, but not with the diligence you accorded it.

And with a flick of his suave black wings, he flies away.