Went Down to Nazareth

 

 
Went down to Nazareth, back from Bethlehem
to see my old mate Jesus out among his friends
No one had died
was crucified,
they were all good family men
Jesus performed his miracles
for charity now and then.
 
* with a nod to Robbie Robertson

On Covers

This song comes on the radio.

It’s one I know but they’ve done something to it

it’s softer, whiter, drained of passion and angst, its southern origins.

It’s a cover of Lodi, the Creedence song.

They’re singing the lyrics but they’re not singing the song.

The chunky guitars are gone and it has a clarinet and acoustic guitar backing..

Come on.

There are good covers.

Think Ry Cooder’s cover of Elvis’s ‘Little Sister’,

the Soup Dragons cover of the Stones’ ‘I’m Free’

Amy Winehouse’s cover of the Zutons ‘Valerie’

but this cover’s a travesty.

Look what they’ve done to my song, mama.

Why would anyone bother?

This guy’s stuck in Lodi. He’s desperate but he’s given up.

He’s drained. It’s like the Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’,

Billy Joel’s Piano Man but you wouldn’t know it

hearing this pallid, weasel kneed version.

I know I shouldn’t get worked up. Hey, it’s only a song

but I’ve loved songs all my life; it’s my passion, more than poetry

but Hey! a good song is poetry

so I’m playing Creedence’s ‘Lodi’ to get me out of this funk.





*what are some of your favourite covers?

pic courtesy of Pinterest

On the Shortest Day

On the shortest day

I take the longest run

between one jetty and the next

and back again

rest myself against the rump

of a dune

listen to the sea shanties of the waves

while a mermaid appears, rises above the waves

swinging her wild, wild hair

in the sun-drenched breeze

until spotting me she coyly slips

beneath the water.

The jetty wades a little deeper into the sea

to catch a glimpse.

On the shortest day I tell

the tallest tales.

His Arms Were a Graphic Novel

It wasn’t the person from Porlock; it was my aunt

Who got on the bus, brought my poem to an end.

My notebook slumped on my lap as she told me

The long sad story of a friend.





When she got off I had my chance but this young bloke

Sat next to me, iPod blaring, hair swooped back.

It was the White Stripes live from Splendour.

How could I not listen ? It was Meg and Jack.





But then a cross-eyed biker got on, hair in a rat’s tail,

Skin graffitied with tatts. How could I not look?

His arms a graphic novel. Then a woman got on

Shouting into her mobile, angry as ‘The Angry Book’.





The sad sack on the other end was out for the count.

Luckily Coleridge didn’t board this bus

while he was dreaming ‘Kubla Khan’. He wouldn’t

have written a word. The poem would be dust.





  • picture courtesy of Pinterest by TheTatt

Evie

People walking up and down ,

walking off their sore heads from the night before,

mothers with their daughters, mothers with no one,

people locked on their mobiles,

missing the jaunty waves,

the graffiti of gull talk

and that gorgeous fluffy white spitz from McLaren Vale walking his owner

what’s his name? I ask.

Her, he corrects me. Evie.

Ahh I say after the song.

That’s right, he says. Evie, Parts 1,2 and 3.

And we give each other the thumbs up —

not many people know that —

& could start reminiscing when we saw Little Stevie & the Easybeats

but Evie is keen to get moving

just like Little Stevie who couldn’t keep still;

And above us, because

there’s a strong breeze,

there’s wind surfers flying around

like a dazzle of butterflies,

Are You Lost?

Are you lost? he asks.

I don’t know, I say. I think so.

What’s that bracelet around your ankle?

Oh that, it’s a monitoring device in case I get lost.

So are you?

I guess so. I was wandering like Wordsworth. Only he saw daffodils.

So what do you see?

I was just looking at the windy lake, how the waves arch like dolphins through the water and i thought of that song

What song?

The one that goes: ‘I wish I could swim like dolphins can swim’

You see that?

Yes, don’t you? Excuse me, that’s my phone ringing. I really have to take this. Alright, alright, don’t get your knickers in a twist. I’m coming right now. I have to go, I say.

So you’re okay then?

Yes, Someone’s waiting for me, waiting out the front.

That’s good. Anyone you know?

Yes, someone I know very well. But it’s okay.. He found me. We lose each other from time to time.

Pardon?

Soon as I get home, I’ll lock myself in. for the night. That’s when my mother used to wander too. It’s for my own good.

Calm

I like to read calm sentences, she says.

No ugly exclamation marks that bully and harass.

No question marks that interrogate.

No dots or dashes.

Nothing jittery or jagged

Calm.

Calm sentences.

Placid as a billabong.

Soothing as slumber,

Pachelbel’s  canon.

You Really Have to Lift Your Game

You really have to lift your game, I say to my poems:

pull the finger out, push the envelope, think outside the box;

you’ve been resting on your laurels too long.

Other poets are doing amazing things with words,

smashing them together like neutrons in a Hadron Collider.

Get this: ‘these widowed months’, ‘the dents of highway laughs’,

and my favourite: ‘the soul is a runway for anything willing to fly’.

Whew! they say. Is that all you can say? I say.

Will you try a little harder? I say to my poems. Come on, guys.

For the Home Team. They look a little hesitant, abashed.

I don’t know, they say. It’s just not us.

We’ve been through this before. Okay, okay , I say. I’m sorry.

Just be yourselves. Just occasionally, Huh? Would it hurt?

They look at me. Give me the thumbs up.

Then I play them Slowly Slowly’s ‘Jellyfish’ as a stimulant.

They light up, move to the music.There’s hope for them yet.





* quotes from Bob Whiteside’s blog: naïve haircuts

Parable of the Tea Towel

I was halfway through the dishes when a call of nature distracted me.

When I resumed I could not find the tea towel anywhere. Where’s it gone? I said.

It’s on your shoulder, my partner laughed & there is was, dangling like a limp flag.

Made me think of that line from ‘Hey Jude’ , ‘the movement you need is in your shoulders’

& I thought, that’s it! that’s the answer: not carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders like Atlas

but shouldering your way through difficulties, so they part before you like the Red Sea did for Moses.