Everything Small and Modest
Robert looks happy here.
Eyes lit up like lamps
full of wonder..
He is on one of his long walks
from the asylum,
He has spotted something.
Perhaps it is a wood pigeon
clearing its throat.
Or a song thrush balancing on a twig,
beak open ready to burst into song.
Everything small and modest
is pleasant and beautiful. Robert declared.
He looks dapper here, and in good health
certainly better that he did when he was found
dead in the snow that Xmas day in’ 56,
the photograph that ghouls pore over.
He didn’t write much in those last years
at the asylum , letting himself off the hook,
declaring, I am here to be mad, not to write.
- pic courtesy of pinterest
Bev put on a Golden Oldies disc
when Hippy Hippy Shake
jumped out of the player.
Chad Romero, I said.
Chad Romero, the singer. How good is my memory?
When she went into the shower, I sneaked a look at the CD cover
to make sure I’d got it right.
Huh? Swinging Blue Jeans, it said.
That’s funny, I thought, I’m sure it was Chad Romero.
So I Googled the name.
My heart sank.
‘Chad went home to be with the Lord,’ the Obituary began, ‘on April 23rd, 2017.’
Bullshit, I said. Chad was a hell-raiser. He wouldn’t have gone meekly as that.
There was no mention of his singing career.
So I Googled ‘Hippy Hippy Shake’ and there he was : CHAN ROMERO.Singer, composer, lyricist.
The full package.
And he’s still alive. Still rocking.
Sometimes one little letter can make a HUGE difference.
stick of a plant
I thought needed water
I tended each morning
the constant gardener
till the real gardener came back from leave
and told me it was dead
slicing a stalk to show me
it was hollow as a straw.
All this time I lavished my love on this plant
and had killed it
& I couldn’t help but see
the seeds of a parable here
one that Jesus or Buddha could have touched on.
It just needed cultivating, that’s all.
The cat left no suicide note
unlike the farmer who died
in the same way
head swathed in cling wrap
like a cellophane mummy
he met with foul play.
His wife the killer — Insurance —
eager for a big pay.
But who would asphyxiate a cat
& dump it by the riverside
where dreamy poets wander
& children play?
I’m sorry, he said, shrugging his shoulders. There’s nothing I can do.
But surely …
I’ve never seen it this bad. Not in all my years. They’ve always responded to treatment. I threw everything at it.
But you’re ….
I know. We’re the paramedics of the trade but we can’t perform miracles.
We bowed our heads.
Then I’ll see you to the door. Thanks for trying,
And off he drove in his clean white van, the firm’s logo on the side.
Well, I said, it looks like the end of the line for you. Sorry, old mate. You heard the man. You have to go. Time for an upgrade. A new laptop.
My mate phones me from the other side.
How’s it hanging? He asks.
Oh, you know. A little left of centre.
All our conversations begin this way.
How are things with you? I ask.
A bit up in the air, he chuckles.
We take a while to get around to things.
You still with that woman?
Nuh, I say. We had another stoush. You found anyone up there?
I’m in no hurry, he says. You know that old saying: Once bitten …. Besides, I’ve only been here six months.
Don’t go climbing any wonky ladders, I say.
Don’t worry, he says. There’s no light bulbs here.
So what’s the weather like? I ask. Up there?
Heavenly, he says. Heavenly.
I go to borrow a book but the librarian takes me aside.
You take care, she says. I will, I promise. So when I get home
I remove all sharp objects, have a packet of anti-depressants
at my side and put on the Monty Python song’ Always Look
on the Bright Side of Things.’ I have beside me a poem
‘Hope is the Helium’ though modesty forbids ……. and have
the Lifeline number at the ready. I flick through the grim
chapter headings and brace myself for an ordeal.
At least there are no photographs.
- have you read any books lately that have disturbed you?
- is it permissible to make jokes — black humor — about subjects like the above?
- is there even a point — aside from morbid curiosity — in even reading such books?
It looked like it would stomp any minute
trumpeting in terror from being woken
after all these years.
What had we done?
What if it went berserk?
Trampled on our good intentions?
Pooped all over the room?
[Have you ever seen elephant poo?]
Or, worse, collapsed on one of us like a slab
The cat had just killed a canary.
Bad, bad cat, said the bird lover who was staying at my place for the weekend.
Easy, I said, Remember what happened at the restaurant last night when you ordered barramundi for the first time and complained it was too fishy?
Well, I said, you may as well berate a barramundi for being a fish as to castigate a cat for killing a canary.