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.

Some Poems Start Out as Poems

Some poems start out as poems, homely descriptions

of slippers, for instance or berry bowls, toasters

but then over-reach, chasing chimeras, conundrums,

leading us down a rabbit hole of nonsense.

Others take the easier way, finding their inner teacher,

their gasbagging guru. Some poems start out as poems

but end up as pedagogy. You feel you’re in

the classroom again.

Tethered

andrew-neel-fGvXxVxmTi8-unsplash

A writer disappears into his books.

It is a familiar story.

And a familiar paradox.

If a man does not disappear into his books

They will not be written.

A judicious voice says, a balance must be struck.

But we are talking Creativity.

It is in the same category as Love and War.

If a man is to write a million words

Then he must disappear into his books.

He will not always be available.

Marriages will strain, children be neglected.

A woman can disappear into her books too

But not as readily.

Maybe she is more tethered to the world.

Maybe that’s it.

I Just Can’t Help Myself

istockphoto-507272482-612x612

I try writing a serious poem about a relationship break-up

About how gutted I feel

I even get in a few good metaphors

But then it starts going off the rails

The clown in the closet wants to come out and play.

I try to shut him out

But he plants his foot in the door

And before I know it

He’s taken over

pouring out puns, profanities,

double and triple entendres

A real word-acrobat.

The poem’s a mess but he’s having fun.

and so am I.

What the heck!

We horse around a little then get into it.

I just can’t help myself.

Between the Flags

swim

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.

 

 

The Parable of the Wine

5397144-3x2-940x627

Spent all my life looking for this, he said.

And?

It hasn’t worked out. She goes her way, does her thing. She gives me only four days a week.

Are they good days?

Yes. But I want more. Total commitment.

You like wine, don’t you?

You know I do. What’s wine got to do with it?

What’s the one wine you’ve always wanted?

Grange Hermitage, of course. It’s the best.

You ever tasted it? Bought a bottle?

No.

Ever berated a bottle of red for not being a Grange Hermitage? Ever stopped you drinking other reds?

Of course not.

Then let it go.

Let what go?

Your obsession with S. Or should I say your possession. You will never have the S you want. Enjoy the one you have. Allow yourself to be replete. From what you tell me she is a very, very good red. Stop thinking Grange Hermitage.

 

Which Came First?

ce231db2a87cf9a34d10dccb20322cf0

 

The trouble is I can’t let go.

I go in for a scan and am and told

they will contact me in due course.

Within days I hear nothing and think of phoning back.

How many days does it take to read a scan?

Persistence is a virtue but so too is Patience.

How to balance one against the other?

I phone back anyway.

I’m put on hold.

I’m always put on hold when I practice persistence.

Perhaps it’s a lesson.

Perhaps I should listen..

When does being persistent become pesky?

It’s tricky being human.

What Happiness Is

260px-Libai_touxiang

You know what happiness is? he said.

Contentment? I suggested.

Not even close, he said through the burnished orange of this late autumn afternoon.

Money? Wealth?

Come on, he said. You know better that that.

Then what? I asked.

Curiosity.

What?

It’s not true what they say about cats, you know. That old proverb about curiosity killed the cat. It’s to stop you changing lanes.

You’re beginning to sound like a zen poet, I said. Like Li Po.

Become like a cat, he said. Go out into the world, cat-curious. You can never NOT be happy if you’re finding out things.

 

do you agree?

where is happiness found for you?

what is the chief impediment for happiness, do you think?

 

 

A Way Out

 

iq

 

I was worried about whether the passageway would take too long to dry as visitors were coming later so the cleaner suggested opening the back door to let the breeze in.

– Good idea, I said, as I went back into my study and left him to it.

It was then I could hear him struggling, groaning.

– What’s wrong? I said.

–  Darn door won’t open.

I went to have a look. He was putting his whole weight into it — and he’s a big man — and still not getting a result.

– Here, I said, demonstrating. There’s a trick to it. You pull the handle up not push it down.

– Well, I never, he said. I didn’t know they still made doors like this. It should be in a door museum.

– It’s an IQ test, I smiled. I wouldn’t worry though. It took me two days to work it out and I live here.

We both chuckled. You’ve got to give people a way out.