She wasn’t really a bum.
She had a name.
She had a face too
but she asked me not to
But what really attracted her to me
was she was reading a book.
You don’t really associate street people
And it was a big book.
Like a Russian novel.
Dostoevsky or Tolstoy maybe.
But it was a home grown novelist.
a true story about a girl called Jessica.
She was on page 237 and she was only halfway
We talked briefly.
I put some coins in her cap and left her to it
on the cold sidewalk.
I would like to have known her story
but you can’t be intrusive.
I am going to bed with Mrs. Crasthorpe.
I have been to bed with her before.
It was a most pleasant experience.
Her husband is dead. She is a free woman now.
She is fit and feisty and when she’s breathed in the briny air of Eastbourne, she loosens up and tells me.
She has generously full lips. blonde hair and grey-blue eyes and is the ripe old age of 59.
Nothing unseemly passes between us, however.
Sadly she is an invention of William Trevor.
When I was a kid
we always started with Jumping Jacks
on Guy Fawkes night.
We would light the fuses and run.
They had short attention spans.
We didn’t know where
they’d end up.
They had so much energy.
My kids were like that too.
They took after me.
You have ants in your pants, mum used to say
Jumping jack gene.
My niece, also afflicted,
takes medication and has only just read
her first novel at fifteen.
[ does anyone still read this?]
The dogs have it too.
Even in their sleep they are running.
Perhaps there is an evolutionary advantage
to being jittery
No, I’m not buying new slippers just yet.
And no, I’m not getting my dressing gown out.
Nor my pyjamas.
Boxers will do.
And my cozy murder mysteries can snuggle against each other
on the bookshelf for another month.
So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Sherlock Holmes.
I’m riding Autumn out till Winter arrives.
I am sitting down reading to the drone of bees.
A copy of the TLS lies open on my knees.
We must get a frizzle on, my partner exclaims
Apropos of nothing then goes off again
To attend the roast, while I attend to the Times.
There’s a lost poem by Hardy which clumsily rhymes.
A frizzle or two? Whatever can she mean?
I scratch my head then read once again.
I take another sip of my beloved cab sav
While she takes a pee in the outdoor lav.
As soon as I began reading it, ‘The Ice Cream Palace,’ I began to have dairy dreams.
Don’t you know it is forbidden, I said. I banished you from my diet years ago.
But the dream pulled up to me like a Mr. Whippy van chiming.
What could I do?
I settled back into my vanilla-and–pistachio armchair and read Gianni Rodari’s deliciously delightful tale.
My eyes greedily licked every sentence.
I scooped the words up with pleasure.
They melted in my mouth.
The residue ran down my chin in rainbow rivulets.
I reckon if someone calls a book, ‘Come Closer and Listen’ they ought to have something to say.
Something vital, urgent, new. Provocative.
I leaned real close and listened. I wanted to be shocked out of my stodginess.
Take something away, to share with my mates at the pub Friday night.
But there was nothing.
Admittedly the poems are well crafted, And there are a few good ones
and even one stand-out poem but that’s it in 60 + pages.
But really it’s the same old stuff as in the previous 10 books.
God help us, we;re all in danger of repeating ourselves and if I do I pray someone
calls me out.
But it’s like I said of the Seinfeld book.
You coulda done better, Charles. You coulda done better.
There’s someone walking around
inside my head
padding around in his slippers
what to do with himself:
should he write a poem?
read another chapter of ‘The Freedom Circus’ ?
write a witty comment
on Beth’s ‘Wild Sounds’?
Another episode of ‘Father Brown’?
it wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t flush
the toilet so often
or go to the fridge.
Look, it’s ten o’clock, I say to him,
could you please
so I can get some sleep?
[in honour of National Cookie Day in the U.S]
I used to give my Sydney Morning Heralds
To the Cookie Man
for his customers to read;
they’d devour the weekend papers with their cookies and cappuccinos
of the Harbor City they’d visit one day;
and I’d go away feeling
I had spread some wealth:
the Saturday supplements:
Food, Fashion, Film, Fun —
The Land of Plenty
& the Cookie Man would give me
the thumbs up;
Then one day
He was gone,
The whole edifice had crumbled
Like a cookie.
Now my Sydney Morning Heralds are looking
for a new home
& I miss the cookie man
Not read ‘Alice in Wonderland’?
Not opened ‘Charlotte’s Web’?
And you say you’ve read 1000 books
& claim you are ‘well-read’
Not read ‘Wizard of Oz’?
or ‘Where the Wild Things Are’?
Never read ‘Peter Pan’ or heard
of ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’?
But you’ve read Robert Ludlum,
everything by Wilbur Smith
and you’re into science fiction
& all of its What Ifs?
Go in The Secret Garden
the Grimms wild, weird woods
& get thee to a library & read
the lost books of childhood.
* what children’s classics have you not read? [I’m about to read ‘Charlotte’s Web’ for the first time. I’ve seen the film J ]