Who Let the Cat Out?

Who let the cat out?

Sleep did.

Sleep lifted the lid.

Let it roam

the alleys and backstreets

of the mind

rummaging through

memory’s bin;

Look what the cat

dragged in —-

half-buried scraps,

dead rats,

old what ifs.

Who let the cat out?

Sleep did.

Bridges

Not Katherine Anne Paterson’s Bridge

to Terabithia,

the one that Leslie and Jess cross

to get to their magic kingdom.

Nor that bridge too far.

Not the one Over Troubled Waters.

Nor that terrible one on the River Kwai.

Not even the bridges you burn

so there’s no turning back

but that rope suspension bridge

dangling high over the gully

that me and my faithful mutt, Salem,

can’t bring ourselves to cross

photo by Andre Amaral on Unsplash.com

the Bunny Holding the Ball

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,

yr responsible.

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?

Cliffs I Have Known

Unstable Cliffs, the sign reads. Stay Clear.

And I think of the unstable Cliffs I have known:

The deputy that has a meltdown whenever I call in sick:

my cousin’s boyfriend who punches holes in the wall

when he is denied,

and the glue-sniffing Cliff I taught in Year 11 who fell asleep

on the tracks coming home from a party and was run over by a train.

They should have come with warnings too. 

Backs to the Sea

People who live here, he said, live with their backs to the sea.

And I said, how could anyone turn their backs to the sea?

And I thought of mum, before she was hauled away, saying,

I want to go back to the sea again,

how she sounded like Miranda the mermaid who had strayed

from her home

but when she got her wish, when we got her into a retirement home

on the esplanade, she grew jaded.

What’s wrong, mum? we asked.

I want to go home, she said. I want to go back where I lived with dad.

But you’ve got a ringside seat, mum, to the Southern Ocean. A view to die for.

It’s not the same, she said, not when you see the same thing day after day.

But we sat with her, watching the red sun sit on the lip of the horizon like a wafer,

the seabirds flying home, and a kind of calm settled on her.

Gate-Crashing

Every now and then

piqued with curiosity

I like to visit blogs I used to visit regularly

to see what they are up to,

how well they’re doing:

it’s like gate-crashing a party:

everyone knows everyone else and it’s the same people

there the last few times you checked;

the mood buoyant,

rowdy, rambunctious,

the repartee rapid,

no awkward silences;

you are well out of the loop;

you’re not dressed right anyway

& you barely speak the same language.

Do you dip your toes in, make a comment?

Perhaps not.

Your own blog is doing well enough,

and may be just as intimidating to others

as these are to you.

Every Poem Should Have ….

Every poem should have a welcome mat.

to let the reader know their little house of words

is warm and inviting; is well kept,

a door bell that chimes rich and melodious,

perhaps a garden gnome suggesting fun, quirkiness

and a bird bath out the front, full to the brim,

where yellow-shouldered honey eaters frolic,

to suggest plenty

Skeleton in the Phone Booth

A skeleton from the closet

Phoned the other day

One we thought had been

Securely locked away.





We tried to entice it

Cajole it back in

But that skeleton was

Determined to be seen.





For it had grown flesh

Learned how to live

And clearly would rattle

All the relatives.





This poem was written twenty years ago when first contact was made. It was more a ghost from the past than a skeleton but gradually over further calls it acquired structure and then one magic day it acquired corporeality. I was not there — my partner and I had split up — but I heard about it through others, including my children. Then just last week over New Year we met. This wonderful, warm person is now a part of my life. Thanks to the Marriage Equality Act She is getting married soon to her partner of eighteen years. She thanked me for keeping the lines of communication open and hope alive.

ps that third line in the second stanza still is not right

*have you ever had a skeleton from the closet visit you?

Secrets

There should be secrets

For us to ponder

to worry about.

Not everything need be known

like how we got here

on this island Earth,

Why God put us here,

the point of suffering,

of brain tumors, cancer?

why some people sail through life

while others ….

What’s it all about, Alfie?

Like the house across the street.

Who lived there? Why did they go?

Why has it been left to ruin?

I could ask the guy raking the leaves

in the house next door

but if I knew, I couldn’t ponder.

There should be secrets.

There should be secrets.

The Last of the Romantics

This time he’s really shitted off.

Had a turd of a day

and now he’s come home to find

dog poo AGAIN

on his freshly mown lawn.

His fury diarrhoeas out

of his mouth, and here we draw the veil of decorum

over the expletives to protect our readers.

A little calmer now he pulls out his pen,

the ballpoint

he uses to write romantic missives to his love

and pens

a warning. on the nearest stobie poll,

a friendly warning

but its double-barrelled exclamation marks cannot hide his intent.

He grabs

a can of beer, and plonks himself near the front window,

watching, watching.