Recent Sighting

Pounding the pavements of Portland,

grim, gaunt , hunch-backed,

Matthew,

no singing, cheery, Disney

hunchback of Notre Dame

but a

bandy-legged, bushy eyebrowed,

Quasimodo, orange vis jacket

looks like an angry bee.

The Mermaid Question

Seven year olds will always ask, at some stage when you are least ready for it, the mermaid question.

Granddad, Tina asks me, how do mermaids go to the toilet?

While you are grappling with this one, they ask another, THE BIG KAHUNA of questions, usually in the car while you are driving them to or from some event:

Grandad, where would I be if you and grandma never got married?

It’s the sort of question you need to pull over the side of the road for, but I kept on driving, hoping an apt answer would ‘pop’ into my head. Where’s the Muse when you need her? Surely she’d good for things other than poetry.

I don’t know what you would have done? I mean, how do you answer a question like that? There’s an obvious answer but that might depress the hell out of her, Who wants to be confronted at that age with self obliteration? And there’s the ontological answer but she wouldn’t get it.

I thought I’d go with the mermaid answer. That’d be the easier of the two …. maybe.

Phone Call at 3a.m.

I get a phone call at 3a.m.

Who calls at 3a.m?

You think the worst.

I glance across at the screen.

The call’s from Algeria.

I don’t pick up.

I don’t know anyone from Algeria.

I used to get phone calls from ‘my mate’

in Mogadishu asking me how my bank account’s going

but since I told him I’m a pisspot he’s stopped calling.

But Algeria?

I don’t even know where the fuck it is.

Africa somewhere?

But here’s the funny thing.
It rings three times then silence.

What’s the point of that?

Is it a scam?

How can you scam someone unless you speak to them first?

Perhaps he’s inordinately shy.

Perhaps he’s a mute.

Perhaps he only speaks Martian.

I knew a young man once, Simon whose father was the Lord Mayor of Mars but that’s another story.

I look up Algeria on the map.

No clues there.

But he’s there. Somewhere.

On his cell phone.

Now who shall I phone tonight? he wonders.

Whose puffy slumbers can I puncture?

Bizarre.

Stalks

Tyson was a book worm. He burrowed into books, into their worlds where, if he was allowed, he would wander for hours in their dreamy, eerie landscapes. But he would forget things. He would forget where he left his slippers, his school bag, the present he received from Aunty May [ which wasn’t a book] for his birthday. Honestly, his exasperated mother would say, you’d forget your head if it wasn’t screwed on. How silly, thought Tyson but the next morning when he went to clean his teeth, he looked up. A pair of eyes on stalks starred back at him from the mirror.

The Next Big Thing

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I saw the sign out the front, I say. I was intrigued. So who are you?

I’m The Next Big Thing, he says.

Can I get your autograph then?

That’ll be five dollars thank you.

Five bucks?!

John Travolta charges 200 for his.

But he’s someone.

Did you read the sign?

Yes.

Well, I’m The Next Big Thing. You’re getting it cheap. When I hit the big time ….

Okay, I say, I see your point, handing over my five bucks.

The Broom Closet

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The phone rings.

Me: [chirpy] Oh Hi Lynne. Good to hear from you.

L: Oooops. Sorry, John. Didn’t mean to phone you. I pressed the wrong button.

Me: [shoulders slump] Don’t feel bad, Lynne. Most people who phone me don’t mean to.

L: Oh.

Me: It’s alright. I’ll have a little weep in the broom closet and get over it. Until the next time, that is. But just don’t ask me ….

L: [sounding worried]. What?

Me: RUOK?

L: Well are you?

I hang up.

 

 

The Cat inside Me

angry cat

The Cat inside me cannot settle.

“Do you want to go in or out?” I say.

She does not know.

She winds her way around my feet then nips my ankle.

“Okay, okay, I get it. You want food.

You always want food,”

I bend down, give her some leftovers

from breakfast.

“You were only fed a few hours ago,” I say.

“No. Not croissants”, she says.

“And certainly not a banana. I’m not a fucking monkey.

I want Stone Baked Ciabatta Loaf with honey.”

She is anything if not specific.

But, of course, we haven’t any.

I drive down to the supermarket, my inner cat

Turning with anticipation.

I get home. Give her some.

She’s satisfied. And so am I.

We both flop on the mattress and have

an afternoon nap.

The cat inside me purrs.

 

An Off Day

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He was having an off day.

No reports came in.

The odds were heavily against it,

Astronomical, in fact,

But there you were,

Blue moons, black swans, a win

In a billion dollar lottery.

They happen.

But it didn’t help his mood.

Perhaps he should stop wearing black.

Lighten up a little.

Wear something trendier.

T-shirt, chinos, loafers perhaps?

He had become something of a cliché.

What would his boss say?

Would he be let go? Demoted to Accounts?

He was not a pen pusher

But a man of action.

His shoulders slumped.

His scythe dropped.

He let out a sigh.

No one had died on his watch

That day.

Forgive Me

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Forgive me. I am not myself today.

I wasn’t myself yesterday either.

To tell you the truth, I’m really uncertain whether I will be myself tomorrow.

Or the next day. Or the next.

Where I’ve gone to, I just don’t know.

I have informed the police, the Missing Person’s Bureau.

They have put out an all points alert.

I take time off work.

I go looking for myself in bars, parks, in shopping malls.

I take photographs of myself to show them what I looked like.

Ugly bastard, someone quips.

Go easy, I say. He’s not a bad bloke once you get to know him.

The rest shake their heads sadly.

I go home, hang my hat on the rack and sit down morosely on the old lounge.

Ahh, there you are, I say, almost sitting on top of me.

I was here all along, he says. Where have YOU been?