You could give it up, you know.
Nah, mate. I couldn’t.
Sure you could.
Think I haven’t tried ? I’ve cut back, mate. Cut back heaps.
I’m in a happy spot. I’m not going to beat myself up.
Everyone needs one vice in their life, mate. It keeps us tethered.
I put up a post the other minute that I knew might offend people but I wanted to honour the veracity of the experience. Would it be more acceptable if the man was the one shouting, and he was the bear of the title rather than his female partner? She did unleash a scatological attack upon the poor guy. What he had done was unclear; more likely it was what he hadn’t done. The title of the piece was unavoidable, though might have been more acceptable were it the man hurling abuse.
It was what happened. Security was called. I overheard the remark, ‘woman screaming in the mall’. It was quite an event. It stopped everyone in their tracks. I could bend over backwards to sugar-coat the experience or ignore it but I’m a writer. How could I not respond to it?
I started to think about biros again, how mine was long and thin like a matchstick but it had no heft.
A biro should have heft if it is to write anything of import.
Mine is fine for writing light verse, things of flippancy and quirk.
But for something darker, more adventurous, a biro with girth is required.
Yes, I decided, for Father’s Day I’m going to request a biro with a stubby stem, a bit like its inventor Lazlo Biro
photo of Lazlo Biro courtesy of Wikipedia
There should be secrets
For us to ponder
to worry about.
Not everything need be known
like how we got here
on this island Earth,
Why God put us here,
the point of suffering,
of brain tumors, cancer?
why some people sail through life
while others ….
What’s it all about, Alfie?
Like the house across the street.
Who lived there? Why did they go?
Why has it been left to ruin?
I could ask the guy raking the leaves
in the house next door
but if I knew, I couldn’t ponder.
There should be secrets.
There should be secrets.
I need cheering up, she says. I work better when happy.
A shared laugh would help, she adds.
So it’s down to me. What am I? A stand-up?
I can’t think of anything funny to say.
It’s a lovely sunny morning in spite of the forecast
so that’s something to be happy about
but happy isn’t funny.
I riffle through my corny joke book but she’s heard them all
even the good ones, like what do you call an Igloo without a toilet?
An Ig !
I thought that was pretty good but all it elicited was a groan.
And anyway, how necessary is it to be happy when you’re working?
Take art. Some of the best paintings were birthed in rage and fear.
Think ‘The Scream’ by Munch, Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ or Bacon’s ‘The Screaming Pope’.
You don’t read ‘In Memoriam’ for a good laugh or listen to ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ for a bit of a lift.
These did not come from a happy place.
Sure, being in a happy place helps, but you’re not going to get the dark matter, the weight if you’re buoyant as a balloon.
pic by John Currin on Pinterest
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.
Reading an article by David Remnick,
editor of ‘The New Yorker’
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,
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
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
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.
I don’t even know where the fuck it is.
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?