The Man in the Box has a Few Things to Say

He had a rough time as a kid, a tough time as a teenager, and did hard time as an adult in maximum-security, an ideal upbringing for a Coffin Confessor, a calling Bill Edgar, the author, pioneered.  

You need balls to be a coffin confessor, a job, if you’ll excuse the pun,  he fell into. A coffin confessor gatecrashes funerals, and reads out what his client, the deceased, discloses to him on their deathbed. He is entrusted to let the mourners know the bitter truth that has been largely hidden from them all this time. There is always at least one of the mourners who receives a right royal drubbing, a public flogging by the lash of truth.

He3re is his spiel: “Excuse me, but I’m going to need you to sit down, shut up or fuck off. The man in the box has a few things to say,”

You gotta read this book. Every chapter is rivetting.

The Sad Podiatrist

Lauren Williams wrote a poem about the sad anthropologist

spurring me on to write one about my mate, Arthur,

the sad podiatrist I see three times a year. We’re like mates.

When someone’s been intimate with your feet for such a stretch of time

what else can you call the relationship?

Usually he’s perky, upbeat but today he’d downcast even though I praise

him for finishing my feet in record time.

Just think, I say, you earn more in three minutes than most people earn in an hour but he protests that it’s not about the money.

When I ask him what it is about, he blurts out the old abstracts: Recognition, Glory, Adulation.

Wow, I thought, where’s this coming from?

And he says: “When did you last read a best seller about a podiatrist? Watch a Reality Show called, ‘The Good Foot

Doctor’. See a film with Tom Hanks, Chris Hemsworth, De Niro playing a podiatrist?”

He has a point. I sympathise with him, then he shakes my foot — he always shakes the right one — and I head out the

door, hoping he pulls his socks up before the next patient comes in.

pic courtesy of Wikipedia




Rusty

When I was a kid in High School we learnt things ‘off by heart’:

poems by Keats and Coleridge, extracts from ‘The Ancient Mariner’,

soliloquies from ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Macbeth’, whole passages from Dickens;

chronologies of The Persian Wars, War of the Roses,

biographies of the Tudors; not neglecting the sciences, we memorized

physics and maths formulas,chemical equations, and slabs from The New Testament —

we were walking Wikipedias; now I’m a big kid, into my senior years,

I’ve grown rusty, which is why I’m in the backyard walking up and down —-

the bees must think I’m mad —- learning by heart my NEW mobile number

which everyone but me knows





  • what things did you learn ‘off by heart’?
  • do you still remember them ?

They’ve Taken Way the Steps


They’ve taken away the steps

the ones leading to the first floor

where JB HiFi is

cordoned off ‘coz of covid

the ones I climbed for practice

in case I made The Great Wall

but there are other steps

to keep in mind

that Stairway To Heaven

for instance

the one we all have to climb

to get to our Heavenly home

but if the climb takes as long

as the eight minutes of the song

we all might be in a spot of bother;

hopefully St. Peter has a rescue brigade

of angels on call

or a St, Bernard or two with a small barrel

of whisky around their necks

for those who didn’t practice often enough

on Earth





 
 
 

Spent

Now it is spent and lying limp

and placid at my feet —

a contentment of inky blue

but the other day if you

could have seen it bucking

with energy , flailing its

wild hair and arching its back

[ sea mountains surfers abseiled

down ] you would not have been

surprised to see it thrust

its loins again and again against

the soft white dunes nor after

to see the body of the foreshore

bruised and torn nor its rump

so foam wracked .

pic by Lachlan-Ross on Pexels

Abducted

Give in.

That’s all you can do.

It’s like being bundled

in the boot

of a car,

taken by an alien

spacecraft.

You’re abducted, baby.

Whisked away

in the arms

of creativity.

Go with it.

Don’t freak out.

Forget appointments,

routines,

even food.

Work, paint, sing.

Whatever’s yr thing.

You’re abducted.

pic courtesy of The New Yorker

You Used to Call Out

You used to call out when we had sex, he said.

You would raise the roof and ululate.

Street lights would flare, power lines fizz

with excitement, fruit bats rise from their roosts in alarm.

Whole shrouds of them.

Why, even the bed shook as if it were coming.

The very veins in my wrists wanted to pop.

It’s awfully florid, the editor said.

It’s meant to be a romance novel, not a porno.

Can you tone it down a little?

His Arms Were a Graphic Novel

It wasn’t the person from Porlock; it was my aunt

Who got on the bus, brought my poem to an end.

My notebook slumped on my lap as she told me

The long sad story of a friend.





When she got off I had my chance but this young bloke

Sat next to me, iPod blaring, hair swooped back.

It was the White Stripes live from Splendour.

How could I not listen ? It was Meg and Jack.





But then a cross-eyed biker got on, hair in a rat’s tail,

Skin graffitied with tatts. How could I not look?

His arms a graphic novel. Then a woman got on

Shouting into her mobile, angry as ‘The Angry Book’.





The sad sack on the other end was out for the count.

Luckily Coleridge didn’t board this bus

while he was dreaming ‘Kubla Khan’. He wouldn’t

have written a word. The poem would be dust.





  • picture courtesy of Pinterest by TheTatt

The Lop-Sided Moon

                                             

The bus shelter at the end of our street

grinds its teeth at night.

Sometimes I sit with it, hold its hand, listen to its tale

of drunks and suicides,

of lycanthropes baying at the full moon,

of lost Lotharios weeping in their fists

I talk to it too about my problems

Of the jig-saw days when pieces don’t fit

Of the times when your heart races

Like a wildebeest on the veldt

But latches onto nothing.

After a while we both settle

and I head off home

beneath a lopsided moon.

sketch courtesy of Yofukuro on Pinterest: Yofukuro is a Japanese artistic duo, the brothers Selichi and Daisel Terazono

Exorcism

The exorcism was short, brutal

after five days of possession , the toxins

had weakened my body, drained my senses





but on the sixth, a little miracle happened;

my body did not convulse or levitate

nor my head spin round like Linda Blair





but all the toxins pored out of me in a holy sauna,

soaking my underclothes, shirt, track pants,

the sheet I was lying on, all soggy and cold





but I was clean, strong, rejuvenated,

the only sign, the stigmata of possession,

two scars on my upper lip, healing, healing

movie poster courtesy of Pinterest