Mustafa and the Makeover
Mustafa who knew me well was a refugee too: he from Syria, me from the realm of common sense.
How would you like it cut? he asked.
Like yours, I said.
He didn’t chuckle. He didn’t comment on the outrageousness of my request.
Apart from the difference in hair color, there was also the disparity in volume though he admitted, even at 27, he was losing his hair.
He cut, he swooped, he shaved, he teased and cajoled but when finished he wrought a little miracle.
How did it look? Shaved at the sides , but on top what hair I had was swept to the other side of my head and held down by gel. It looked amazing.
Askew, I said, It looks amazingly askew.
Like your writing, he said.
Yes, like my writing.
I Am Not Chernobyl
I am not Chernobyl.
Not Three Mile Island.
I am not about to have a meltdown.
That steam coming out of my ears? That?
Just me letting some of the pressure out.
Don’t worry. It’s worse than its bite.
That string of expletives I’m about to utter?
Just my inner Tourette’s airing its dirty laundry.
. A meltdowm? Nah. Now what is it you’ve been trying to tell me?
*pic courtesy of Pinterest
Out of Time
Sometimes I wake up in a room
& don’t know where I am.
Sometimes I walk into a room that isn’t
carrying two cups of coffee,
one for me, one for her
and a Sunday Mail under my arm
but that was yesterday.
I’m in the 4th dimension now.
Somewhere in the distance a crow caws, a cat hisses, an old CD
is playing, ‘You’re out of time, my baby’.
I scratch my head, my balls.
How do I get back Where’s the exit door?
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.
On the Shortest Day
On the shortest day
I take the longest run
between one jetty and the next
and back again
rest myself against the rump
of a dune
listen to the sea shanties of the waves
while a mermaid appears, rises above the waves
swinging her wild, wild hair
in the sun-drenched breeze
until spotting me she coyly slips
beneath the water.
The jetty wades a little deeper into the sea
to catch a glimpse.
On the shortest day I tell
the tallest tales.
That Little Imp
When my writing ‘seizes up’ like my laptop
when it gets too stiff, formal, clunky
I call in my little imp
that firecracker of mischief
to get in amongst the words
like a dog
amongst the sheep
to shake them out of their torpor,
their locked in state,
nip a few ankles if necessary
give them the run-around
so everything’s loosened, wide awake,
I can call him off
& when the dust settles the poem settles too
into something like
relaxed, loose, easy.
The Sedate Life
I lead a fairly sedate life
but every now and then
I do something wild
just to feel really alive
like the other day I’m on this long stretch of road
through the Adelaide Hills
& I don’t know it at the time but my daughter is a few cars
behind in her little blue Subaru
and there’s this sudden roller coaster stretch
where the road steeply descends for a kilometre
then shoots up, the long climb to level
& my daughter thinks, God, how is dad going to keep up
with those cars once they get going?
but I just let out a whoop, push the pedal down
and go for it,
eat my dust, I say to the other sad saps as I shoot ahead
& my little charcoal Cruiser is the the Batmobile,
and I’m tearing up the bitumen on an assignment in Gotham
a dragon in my blood
& I keep going, going wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
but as the road levels out, I slow,
letting the other donkeys catch up,
then sit on the speed limit the rest of the way home,
little old sedate me.
Supermoon in a New Light
And I know there’s a supermoon out tonight
& all i have to do is go out and look
above the treetops
and exclaim, Wow! Wow
& the stone dog will be pissing on the pavers again
& Mad Meg reeling ’round the birdbath freaking out
the other chooks
& the thoughts in my blood skedaddle like a cat
over the page
& I can barely keep up
& I know I’m going to be crucified for what I say
but hey! it’s Easter, the season to be crucified
but a rebirth is coming, a renewal.
I just don’t know what it’s going to look like
on the other side
Inside the Panels
Reading when one person dies the whole world is over, a bleak and beautiful scratchy black-and-white graphic novel. It rains a lot inside the panels. Even for Melbourne. Even when it isn’t raining, the sky is dark and broooding. After a while the pages become soggy; the panels leak into each other; water begins dripping on the floor. I go to get a bucket but it rains and rains. The bucket overflows. In the end I have to close the book and take it back to the library before the house gets flooded.