I have just come back from the shopping centre, I wrote, ten years ago
and have discovered the boot empty. Where is all that food I bought?
Back in the trolley where I left it in the car park ready to heft into the boot.
An action I never completed. I dashed back to the shopping centre
but the trolley was gone. I had supplied a needy family, I like to think,
with a week’s supply of free food. In the end, I remembered.
My memory had rebooted. But what if it hadn’t? Would you even know
you had forgotten something if you had no memory of it?
Is this how it happens?
While I was sleeping
the nine towers rose
in my head
from the TV news
the night before;
They were nothing like
the Eiffel Tower
or the Burj Khalifa
not even the Tower of Babel
though their residents spoke
in a multitude of tongues,
Instead they were the nine
po-faced Tower Blocks of Melbourne
ringed by police
like a besieging army
in ‘hard lockdown’:
a term we had never heard before.
They looked more like the Grenfell Towers
though the fires consuming them
were a virus and fear
And the bees. You don’t see the bees amongst the trumpet flowers not even when they’re braying their beauty.
The creatures have abandoned us, Seb said.
And you don’t hear the rats anymore clattering in that small space behind the fridge where you can’t get at them. Nor the mice chittering in the corner.
The world’s gone quiet, Seb said. It’s like that film.
You know. ‘A Quiet Place’.
The wasps too. And the crows in their black leather jackets ….congregating like thugs at the back door. And making a racket. I kinda miss them.
Me too, said Seb.
And that stray cat with the asymmetric face. Why, even that plaster statue of old Rumpole doesn’t pee on the cobblestones on a full moon any more..
Not even the ghosts, sighed Seb. Not even the ghosts.
It had been a splendid evening but now, rankled by some recent memory and loosened perhaps by a little too much wine, he leaned across the table and made a cutting remark. She began to bleed almost immediately. His words raked across her wrists like a suicide attempt. She began to deflate in front of him. She had to learn not to take things so literally.
A bird flew in my mouth.
I gulped in horror.
If it were a mozzie,
But a bird
A wattlebird at that.
It panicked in the echo chamber of my mouth.
I wrestled it with both hands
Trying to pry it loose.
Suddenly it plopped out like a fish.
It staggered in the air.
I staggered along the path.
A bird in the mouth is worth two in the bush.
My friend quipped.
So how was it? he asked.
Surreal, I clucked. Surreal
Proceed With Caution, the sign said
But I proceeded anyway
& came upon a cat
On the cold hillside
Damp with dew
Helmeted in cling wrap
& wished the hell I hadn’t
She calls from one of the Northern beaches.
“We were going mad, “ she says. “We had to get out the house, You know what it’s like. You start twiddling your thumbs, staring at the wall…”
“Or even climbing it,” I add.
“Yeh, like a spider,” she says.
“Or even the ceiling.”
“Things look better from up there,” I say.
“You okay, granddad?”
“Yeh, I’m okay. You kids have a good time, Thanks for calling.”
And I crawl a little further along the ceiling. A fat, juicy fly has landed nearby. With one bound ,,,,
“I am getting a half -Van Gogh,” I say over the phone.
“A half -Van Gogh? What is that?”
“You know how Van Gogh lopped off his left ear after a fit of madness, or so it’s claimed?”
“Well, I’m getting half my left ear, the lobe lopped off.”
“Why? Why would you do that?”
“You said you would love me even if I had half my face missing.”
“I know but …”
I am outside late at night
About the poems
I have not written
The ones I’ve turned away from
Because of embarrassment
Or fear of shedding my jovial persona
and find somewhat alarmingly
that the poems I have not written
far outnumber the ones I have.
“No rest for the innocent”, she sighs —
As she looks out the back door.
“Looks like he’s raping her again.
He’s as randy as Harvey Weinstein”.
“For fuck’s sake, they’re blackbirds,” I say.
.”How anthropomorphic can you get?
And anyway, all things being eventual.
The act might well be consensual.”