The great magician
lived behind us in the eighties
walked around in his top hat and cloak
making rabbits disappear.
Once he poked his head
over the fence and asked
had we seen one of his rabbits?
I said I hadn’t.
by the cabbage patch
a hole in the fence,
where a rabbit had scraped under
and bits of fur in the yard.
We had a dog back then.
He was a bit of a magician himself.
He could make a rabbit disappear too.
I like to flex my muscles,
says the tree,
waving its branches
I’m coming at you,
wait and see!
You’re on, I say,
just back from gym,
in an adrenaline
I’m going out
on a limb.
I engage it
in an arm wrestle.
Round one to me,
You hear a noise. It’s past midnight.
So what do you do?
You hop up, turn on a few lights, tramp down the passageway. open and close cupboards, bang doors, make a lot of noise.
Then you stop and listen.
There it is again.
Those bloody mice, you say, though you’ve seen no evidence of any.
It’s nothing, you decide, nothing. House noises.
You head back to the bedroom, turn off the lights.
Someone taps you on the shoulder.
my coffee cup
a dark blotch vast as Asia,
a continent of khaki
shaped like Australia;
there’s a South America too
[but no North]
And around the rim
an aurora borealis of brown
when the sun
lights it up.
Clean it, a visitor declares.
Clean it? I say.
This miracle of incidental art?
This repository of rudimentary remarques?
It’d be tantamount to the Taliban
the Buddhist statues
Me and the Ant go way back, ever since we discovered
our mutual Achilles’ Heel: coffins made of steel: Lifts.
He’s not a big fan of car boots either or small caving tunnels,
so the Thai cave rescue would not have been high
on his agenda. One thing’s for sure: Ant is an SAS commando
& instructor and if he can’t handle lifts, what chance
have marshmallow men like me got? It’s in my Will:
‘to be cremated’; just in case
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