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.

Where Celebrities Grew Up

Reading an article by David Remnick,

editor of ‘The New Yorker’

since 1998

I discovered

he was born in Paterson, New Jersey

the same place as Philip Roth,

the novelist whose biography Remnick was profiling,

as was Ginsberg,

the man who wrote “Howl’

that poem that still echoes down the decades.

the same place too

as William Carlos Williams,

the man who wrote ‘the red wheelbarrow’

and wait for it,

Lou Costello,

the comedic partner of Bud Abbot

whose films split our sides

in the fun house of the fifties;

what do they have in the water of Paterson, New Jersey,

that so many famous people

grew up there;

it must be quite a place

The Happy Caddie

It’s okay being a caddie

tagging along with the team

light as a butterfly

nothing to prove

floating along the lazy rhythms

of the afternoon,

the dappled sunlight,

the bodyguard gums,

the cheeky creek bed waiting

to gobble up golf balls;

you’re nimble on yr feet,

jovial as a parrot

keeping the banter going

handing out irons

as a waiter would drinks,

planting the flag after putting is done

like Neil and Buzz on the moon





*pic courtesy of Wikipedia

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.

My Furry Friends

You are furry like a dog

sit at my feet like a dog

follow me around like a dog

always under my feet

but you don’t woof.





You are my slippers,

a handsome, friendly pair.

My ex never liked you.

She said I’d be wearing

a dressing gown next,

smoking a pipe,

reading cozy murder mysteries

in front of a log fire

but now it’s just you & me.





You often hear the phrase

‘let me slip into something

more comfortable’

as a prelude to sex

in steamy novels

but comfortable to me

means something else.

You can’t get into much trouble

wearing yr furry friends.

  • pic courtesy of Pinterest

			

Ambrosia Lite

The sun peeps behind a cloud

I hope it is not too loud

The swallows doze in the trees

I’m in dreams up to my shiny knees

tweedledum and tweedledee

the honey-eater swings on the trapeze

of the scrawny twig

& I have another swig

of ambrosia lite

and this poem is shining much too bright

unmoored again I chase links

but my cottontail heart shrinks





  • image courtesy of Wikipedia

The Thing in the Cage

It always come down to this: Did he see it or did he not?

Warren goes to the Children’s Hospital to see his daughter who’s been run over by a car only he gets lost in the maze of corridors. He panics, opens doors at random, many without signs. That’s when he sees it, the thing in the cage. It’s humanoid, hairy,stands upright and rattles the iron bars. It looks him in the eye. A stricken, get-me-out-of-here look. Warren is horrified. What is it doing in this big white room? In a Children’s Hospital? Warren backs off, fumbles for the door handle, and races out, down the corridor, any corridor that leads to the light. What had he seen? Was it an experiment?  Was it top secret? Had he seen something forbidden? He retches for air.

When he steadies himself, he goes back to Reception, makes sure of directions this time and finds his daughter. He does not say anything about what he has seen. He knows he has seen something he should not have seen. Or maybe he had seen nothing at all. Frenzied phantasmagoria.  He keeps quiet. He talks to his daughter about home, about how she is, about when she is coming home. They talk and talk and talk and he holds her closely. .

True Colours: the Story behind No Sympathy …

When people ask me, did you have any inkling in all that time you knew him, I say, not really, then I think of the incident in the restaurant,the one that slipped beneath my notice in what was meant to be a piece of devilish fluff in ‘No Sympathy ….’

It began in the third line: Hey! Is that a glass of water you threw over me? That’s when autobiography took over and followed us out onto the sidewalk where I was shoved to the ground when my back was turned and my mate who had turned rogue did a runner.

So did I know? Did I suspect? I sure did: in those moments he unleashed diminutive, haiku-sized bursts of anger, I could feel the embers of a conflagration 18 years before that the forensic squad, armed with new evidence and methods of detection, were sifting through and building a case.

His mate, Dale , who let him stay on his property at Second Valley in a caravan while he got his life together, fell victim to Adrian’s wrath.

All that time Adrian proclaimed his innocence, He was the only suspect. He lived at my place for a while, He rode a bike, did the gardening, spoke to the kids, Everyone loved him. A top bloke, they said. Then the night ….

Once my friend was charged with the cold case and sentenced, he finally admitted to us: Just think, he said, 15 years for five seconds of madness.

That little haiku of a revelation warned me that of all the affairs we have to manage in life, our temper comes first.

Balzakian

Not cinched

cloistered

coffined

poems

but big

blubbery

Balzakian

bursting with life

Rubenesque

with rotundity

doorstoppers

of poems

life spilling out

of them

like clothes from a suitcase

clowns out

of a jalopy

That Little Guy in my Head

Every time I go to post a poem

About my partner or family, or another poet

That little guy inside my head says,

Hey You Can’t Say That! And when I ask,

Why not? He says. Are You Serious?

You Re3ally Don’t Know? But, of course, I do

But you can’t fictionalize everything.

You take away the bite of authenticity.

So I slam the door shut on that censorious little freak

but he shouts out anyway: DELETE! DELETE!