We were coming home from the pictures, dad and I —
we had seen one of the great ones: Gary Cooper in ‘High Noon’,
when an announcement came over the bus radio,
that the King had died. Everyone fell silent then as the announcer
proceeded with the details. I never knew the king — I was only a kid —
but later he meant much to me. I wear a silver ring now with his image
on the head for he was a stutterer too. But he overcame it.
Whenever I spoke in public and felt nerves coming on I looked at the face
Of King George VI
Listen to the sea , my granddad said
as we stood on the soft white sand .
And he clamped the shell to my ear
like a mobile phone . Listen , he said ,
listen . And we grew silent . It was
at first like listening to a garbled
conversation or the radio between
stations but then it settled — and I could
hear inside this shell which wound back
inside itself like a spiral staircase
the whoosh and wash of a distant sea —
for this one was silent —- and for a moment
it was as if I were an astronomer
listening in through his radio telescope
to the hum of the universe
Thank you, Lord
to rip into
this egg and bacon muffin
for taste buds
to savour it
& for the senior’s coffee
To wash it down
to fuel me up
for the morning ahead
I had just unzipped at the left urinal when he took the one next to me, even though the one on the right was vacant.
We were shoulder to shoulder. We were that close.
He had bright orange hair like Mick Hucknall from Simply Red.
I hummed a few bars of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ just in case but there was nothing.
Hi, I’m Charlie, he offered.
Umm, I’m John. We don’t have to shake hands do we?
No, of course not, he said. You come here often.
Only to pee, I said. How about you?
Yes, much the same.
Then we both entered the zone, quietly exuding, self satisfied sighs.
We must stop meeting like this, I said wryly.
Then he zipped up and went to the basin and when he had gone I did the same.
This does not happen to me often. In fact, it was the first time which is why I’m writing about it.
Weird, huh ?
- pic courtesy of pinterest
I don’t like the look of them
the way they huddle darkly
in vacant lots amongst
the runtish grass
with their hangdog faces
and surly looks
they’re up to something
but if you edge closer to eavesdrop
they clam up
look at you with bloodshot
what have they been drinking
perhaps they are planning
against their colonial masters