It had been on the vacant lot next to the church
For over half a year and no one in all that time
Could rustle up enough motivation to mow the lawn
Or clear it of rubbish. I thought of calling
The number on the back a few times but just couldn’t
Get motivated enough to ring or attend one
Of their weekly meetings
& I thought about something
A friend had said about running a Special Olympics
For the Motivationally Challenged but the problem
With that, I said, was that nobody would bother
To turn up. I thought then of the historically highly
Motivated: Hitler, Stalin, the rapacious bankers, Isis
And concluded that a low motivated populace isn’t
Necessarily a bad thing.
Comes out every now and then
When I lose the thread of an argument and desperately try to sew it up
When I chat with Tiff in her tank at night when there’s nothing on TV
When I slapstick my way across the mall just for the hell of it
In the bath on Sundays when I sing ‘Deep Water’ backwards, inside out and upside down to give my vocal chords a workout
At the hairdressers when I talk to Simon with the harelip about his dad’s imminent retirement as Lord Mayor of Mars
And lastly when we all stand together in Alex’s Salon and sing the Mars National Anthem on International Mars Day
when do you speak Martian?
when someone says, the ball’s in yr court
you know you have to do some heavy lifting.
It’s up to you.
If the shit hits the fan,
The ball’s in yr court, remember?
I used to play tennis a lot, so the metaphor’s
sort of apt, but I remember tennis as a lot
of to and fro, you and someone else at the other end
but somehow it ended up just me:
the bunny holding the ball.
I can’t even remember asking for it.
How does that work?
toil and twaddle
the cat’s in its cradle
the boy’s in the bubble
The king’s in the counting house
counting out his money
the red back’s on the toilet seat
in the outdoor dunny
Old Mother Hubbard’s
in lockdown at home
the poor little dog
still hasn’t a bone
but the cow’s over the moon
the sun’s in the stubble
and Basho’s feisty frog
plops in the puddle
I’m hunting for my birth certificate
to prove that I exist.
They seem to need convincing.
Isn’t it obvious? I ask
but obviously it isn’t.
They need that slip of paper.
In fact they insist upon it.
Doubting Thomases! I think
almost inviting them to touch me.
But I hold back
almost afraid to touch myself.
What if ….?
Perhaps I’ve gone around kidding myself
all these years.
Yes, I think, that slip of paper would help.
I hunt for it furiously.
If only to convince myself.
Caravaggio's 'The Incredulity of St, Thomas' courtesy of Wikipedia
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
He brings me a muffin.
I asked for a blueberry.
I get choc chip.
I asked for a fork.
He brings me a knife.
You’ve got no idea how rude customers can be, he says to a couple at the next table. You don’t know what you’re doing, mate, they sometimes say. Hey! I’ve got backbone. I bite back: Don’t know what I’m doing??? You don’t know what you’re talking about, I say to them. I’ve been in this trade for ten years.
His face is going red. He starts to inflate like a pufferfish. His words bristle.
The couple cower before their coffee.
So how was it, chief? he asks me in passing.
You don’t know what you’re doing, I feel like saying but my mouth is full of muffin.
Instead I give him the thumbs up. It seems the best policy. I’ve made his day.
Did you know the pattern on your nightie matches the pattern of my underpants?
Yes, he says as he pulls down his jeans to show her.
I can see , she says, that your underpants are a little loose in the legs.
I can see more than the pattern of your underpants.
You don’t mean ….
Yes, she says, the crown jewels.
Oooops, he says, as he pulls up his jeans and they collapse in laughter on the beanbag.
I had my big guns ready.
The script already rehearsed in my head.
There were some epithets to let fly.
Rebuttals for any diffidence.
I was asking my mercurial mate a favour
one he might bridle at
though I had both barrels loaded
‘after all I’d done for you….’
the rifle was cocked and ready.
I was Chuck Norris, Vin Diesel, Dirty Harry
rolled into one.
When I got him on the phone
and asked, he rolled over like a cat.
I was a little disappointed.
She hands me the change.
The two coins bounce off the rubbery counter.
I catch them mid-flight.
You should be in a circus, she says.
I am, I say.
I mingle with clowns every day,
juggle my bills,
keep the customers satisfied,
drive around in an old jalopy,
put on my happy face
as buffoons bluster their way
through a pandemic,
get up in the morning
and start all over again.
What a performance!
She smiles at me nervously.
Anyhow, have a good day! I say.
You too, she says, as I walk away,
beeping my rubbery red nose.