Mystery Ships

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When he gets up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night, she’d be there or on the way back to his room after pausing in the kitchen for a glass of milk, she’d be in the hallway.

Passing ships in the night.

He’d look at her, and she at him, then both look away.

After eight years, off and on, they were still a mystery to each other.

Her cat. Not his. They’d never bonded.

the Laughing Kookaburra

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Why aren’t you laughing? I ask the laughing kookaburra.

What’s there to laugh about? he says.

Well, I begin, there’s the …. and the ….

Exactly, he says. Nothing. Zero, Zippo. Zilch. Where will I begin? Lockdown? Coronavirus? visitors with hang-dog faces? zoo keepers worried about their jobs? and the Bad News Bears blathering on TV in the office next door.

Well, you’re supposed to be ‘the laughing kookaburra’.

Maybe, he snaps, but I’m no ninny. I’m allowed to be morose if I want to.

Okay, Okay, I get it, I say as I shuffle on, shoulders slumped, head on my chest, rummaging in my pocket for the Lifeline number.

 

 

Talking to Strangers at Bus Stops

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I know my mother wouldn’t have approved

but my bus was late

I was idle

and this bloke on a bike

pulled in

“to give his bum a rest”,

a privilege he did not extend

to his mouth.

I learnt about his five year bouts

with ‘the Mike Tyson of cancers’,

Prostate

& this pugnacity encompassed drug pushers,

wife beaters, power utility scammers.

He wore black like Johnny Cash,

had two brassy skeleton rings

& he strutted around like a rooster.

Still he kept me amused till the bus

came along and took me away.

I waved as he sparred with the bus shelter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Page is Not the Pampas

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“I’m not happy with you”, I say to my poems.

They look at me warily.

“What have we done wrong?” they say.

“You’re too well behaved. Too orderly, genteel. Way too English”

“Too English?”, they say.  “From the country that brought you Joe Cocker, the Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols”

“Okay. Okay. Scrub ‘too English’.”

“So what else are we doing wrong?”

“You mince your way upon the page”

“Mince?”

“Yes. Like dainty school girls. Can’t you, like, stampede upon the page?”

“Stampede? We’re not fucking gauchos! The page is not the pampas.” they say.

“Can’t you buck, twist and beat a bit, Get a rhythm going? Get a bit of dirt on your hands?”

“You’ll have to let us out more,” they say. “You can’t keep us locked in with you at nights”.

“Hey! Where are you going?”

“Out,” they say , as they head out the door, ” to paint the the town red.”

‘Paint the town red?’ Does anyone still say that? These poems really do need to get out more.

“Okay, but make sure you’re home by twelve. Drive carefully.”

the Great, Big, Uproarious Laugh

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It’s still dark outside but my brain’s awake so I drift down to the study.

I hop onto the computer.

That’s when I read it, Shelley’s comment on my post about that sign in the gym: ‘

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Shelley said: ‘Noooooo. Not the sacred apostrophe being misused!’

That’s when I burst out laughing.

“Can you tone it down, please? You sound a bit manic.”

It’s the voice of common sense coming from the bedroom.

“I’m sorry,” I say. ”It’s so hilarious”.

“It’s not even 5 o’clock, “she says. “You’ll wake the neighbours.”

“Would it be better if I hold back till seven?” I ask. “Would that work?”

“Yes,” says the voice of reason.

So that’s what I do. I go back to bed, set the alarm and let it rip at seven, a great big uproarious laugh. It feels cathartic like a colonic cleanse.

I wish Shelly could have heard it..

She’s right though, the voice of reason.

It’s all a matter of timing.

 

  • when’s the last time you had a really good laugh — or a colonic cleanse?

 

Scratching His Cerebrals

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What are you doing? I asked.

Scratching my cerebrals, uncle would answer studying the crossword before him, his right hand deftly scratching his scalp, between loose strands of sandy hair, as though he had nits.

It seemed to work. The more furious he scratched, the better he got, the crossword soon solved.

Then uncle would go out in the garden and within a short space of time, as aunty used to say, he’d be ‘off with the fairies’.

Perhaps the two activities were allied.

Perhaps I caught it from uncle but whenever I work on a poem or a piece of stubborn flash fiction, I scratch my cerebrals too.

My partner caught me at it one morning.

Stop it, you’ll go blind, she says.

We both chuckle.

It’s good to make light of things then go back to scratching your cerebrals should things become difficult.

 

  • picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Maria

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But when I go to pay the fine

surprise, surprise, there’s no waiting game.

Someone picks up straight away.

The voice is chirpy like a canary.

It’s like a change swept through the place

I tell the lady.

I tell Maria.

She even has a name.

People always quick to take your money, I say.

She even chuckles.

I don’t know if it’s put on or genuine

You take what you can get.

The lines to the other sections I say, the ones

asking for extensions, leniency,

were always clogged with callers

And when you finally got through

a graveyard voice answered. like Lurch from ‘The Adams Family’.

She chuckles again.

She brings out my inner stand-up.

But your line, I say,  lit up like a Xmas tree.

She glows,  gives me the receipt number.

She’s still chirpy, wishing me a good weekend.

I feel light as a glider. The fine is off my chest.