The Bum on the Sidewalk

She wasn’t really a bum.

She had a name.

Lauren.

She had a face too

but she asked me not to

photograph it.

But what really attracted her to me

was she was reading a book.

You don’t really associate street people

with reading.

And it was a big book.

Like a Russian novel.

Dostoevsky or Tolstoy maybe.

But it was a home grown novelist.

Bryce Courtenay

a true story about a girl called Jessica.

She was on page 237 and she was only halfway

into it.

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.

Me & Mrs, Crasthorpe

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.

Jumping Jacks

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

It’s the

Jumping jack gene.

I’d answer.

My niece, also afflicted,

takes medication and has only just read

her first novel at fifteen.

‘Adam Bede’

[ 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

1 Minute Dash

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.

Bee Music

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.

Dairy Dreams

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.

Come Closer and Listen

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.

Something revelatory.

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.

That Person in my Head

There’s someone walking around

inside my head

padding around in his slippers

wondering

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’?

What?

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

settle down

so I can get some sleep?

The Cookie Man


[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

and dream

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

Lost Books of Childhood

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 ]