Bad things happen in basements
the Id beneath the floorboards
so Lester’s wife should have thought twice
about mocking his masculinity
in their basement
by the clothes dryer that doesn’t work well;
now Linda doesn’t work well either.
Badasses and Babadooks bide in basements
& the offspring of Horror Writers’
So the next time someone offers to take you
down the basement
or hop into a car boot
if they’re North American
that basement of motor vehicles
between 1.45 and 3.00 pm on Sunday
when I ducked in to get a pint of milk
but I only have to get tested if symptoms appear.
Now every cough
run of the nose
is freighted with significance
You hear a noise. It’s past midnight.
So what do you do?
You hop up, turn on a few lights, tramp down the passageway. open and close cupboards, bang doors, make a lot of noise.
Then you stop and listen.
There it is again.
Those bloody mice, you say, though you’ve seen no evidence of any.
It’s nothing, you decide, nothing. House noises.
You head back to the bedroom, turn off the lights.
Someone taps you on the shoulder.
A little kid climbs into an oven.
It is dark and sooty as a cave.
The kid turns on his torch.
The door shuts behind him.
Someone turns up the heat.
His brow perspires, his eyes begin to bulge,
His heart to race.
The kid scrambles to find an opening, bangs on the glass.
The door slowly opens.
The kid staggers out.
There, says a stern, kindly voice. How was it?
Life isn’t plain sailing. Just so you know.
Huh, who was that? The kid asks.
No one answers.
* courtesy of ‘The Drabble’ on which it has just appeared
The future is coming at us
At a furious pace
We put up these sandbags
All over the place
To keep the present in
And keep the future out
It is much too horrible
To think much about
Still waters run deep, his mum said
What did she know?. He took the plunge anyway
Swept up in its flow.
Emerged twenty years later,
Three kids, a mortgage, wife in tow.
Was it worth it?
Hell, yeh. Wished he could have let her know.
* photo from pexels.com by Gabor Coyamo
Two more drownings down at the Bay.
‘Swim between the flags’, lifesavers say.
Live between the flags, and you play it safe
But against such restrictions, the spirit chafes.
‘Don’t Drink Too Much’, ‘Gamble Responsibly’
‘Wear seat belts, bike helmets, drive responsibly.’
‘Don’t Smoke, Do Drugs’, the flags hem us in
& we’re scared little children, there seems to be no end.
‘Doctors won’t prescribe benzo- diazapines
Or other drugs of dependence’, and please no codeine.
‘Don’t Talk To strangers’, Be careful Online.
Swim between the flags and you’ll be just fine.
Proceed With Caution, the sign said
But I proceeded anyway
& came upon a cat
On the cold hillside
Damp with dew
Helmeted in cling wrap
& wished the hell I hadn’t
So far I’ve dodged the bullet
The Damoclean sword
But I know it’s coming for me.
I have its word.
It’s waiting in the rafters.
It’s waiting in the pews.
It has interminable patience
& that is not good news.
It knows my area of weakness
My Achilles heel.
It’s waiting for me to slip up.
It knows I will.
It will not be beaten.
It will not be assuaged.
I open the door tentatively.
It maybe in the yard.
Unstable Cliffs, the sign read. Extreme Danger. Stay Clear.
And I thought of the unstable Cliffs I had known:
The deputy that barked at me when I called in sick,
My cousin’s boyfriend who punched holes in the wall
Whenever he was denied,
And the glue-sniffing Cliff I taught in Year 11 who fell asleep
On the tracks and was run over by a train.
They should have come with warnings too.