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?

Macabre Memory: Warning

The cat left no suicide note





unlike the farmer who died

in the same way

head swathed in cling wrap

like a cellophane mummy

note fabricated:

he met with foul play.

His wife the killer — Insurance —

eager for a big pay.





But who would asphyxiate a cat

& dump it by the riverside

where dreamy poets wander

& children play?

.

Aisle #9

I’m walking down aisle #8 but it could be aisle #9, depending how they classify it.

But it’s not down either.

I’m afraid to ask.

I know what sort of response I’m going to get but I’m desperate.

I ask one of the assistants,

So where do you keep it? I ask. Where do you keep the canned laughter?

Pardon? she says.

You’ve got canned fruit and canned veggies but I can’t find the canned laughter.

Is this some kind of joke? she asks.

Sort of, I say, But I do need a can or two.

She looks around for help. You know the look. This guy might be dangerous, I better humour him.

I’ll go and ask the manager, she says.

Don’t worry, I say sadly, no one stocks it any more. She heads off anyway and I slump out the store in my clown shoes and frizzy ginger hair. I beep my red nose for good measure.

No one laughs at my jokes these days. I’ve lost my edge. Looks like I’m going to have to go back to Comedy School.

waiting to be Called

Please Wait to be Called,

the sign said

So I did.

I took a ticket and waited

behind the others

till it was my turn

at the head of the queue

outside the draughty pearly gates

holding my flimsy little ticket

& when, growing impatient,

I stepped forward,

St. Peter held up his hand:

“There seems to be some problem,”

He said.

“You’ll have to wait a little longer,”

I stamped my feet a little

when a white light flashed overhead

& a door opened behind

& I was whooshed back

to the operating theatre where the surgeons

had revived me.

One step from paradise.





pic courtesy of Pinterest,com

Another Altercation with Auto Correct

Parth serves me.

He deals with my query,

sets me up for Unlimited Data.

The next day

is Mother’s Day.

If you want anything to happen,

changes to your laptop,

forget it.

Mothers Day: the Holy of Holies.

but the next day

is all good

BUT

when I message Parth to thank him

auto correct  does not like ‘Parth’

but changes it to

‘Parthenon’ !

What the %#$%^&

He’s not a Greek temple, he’s a person, I say.

And besides he’s Indian NOT Greek

and when I correct it, auto correct

over-rides me.

We come to blows.

I change it back

end with a

‘Have a good one, Parth’ and quickly press ‘send’

but the next day

I get a message

‘Hey John! What is it with ‘Parthenon?

The Three Most Important Things

The man who looks like an aging, portly Dick Van Dyke

wheels his walker towards me

in the Aged Care Centre’s library.

Are you a new resident? he asks.

No, I laugh, just having a quiet read while my partner visits

a resident.

Who are you?

I’m the Welcome Ambassador, he says,

brandishing his badge.

I welcome new residents.

I cheer them up. Show films in the hall.

‘Life of Brian’, ‘Carry on ‘ films, that sort of thing.

Get them to concentrate on the important things of life

when they’re down.

How do you do that? I ask.

I tell them a story about the time I almost died.

That sounds cheery, I say.

Would you like to hear it?

If I said no, would that stop you? I say.

He chuckles and gets on with it.





 Well, I had a heart attack ten years ago.

They thumped my heart with a ,,, what do you call it?

A defibrillator?

Yes, that’s it. I was between life and death. It could have gone either way. Do you know what they asked me?

No.

They asked me what the three most important things in my life were

and that I should think about them.”

What did you say? I ask.

Doritos, Tim Tams and cappuccinos.

[Had I heard right?]

What about your wife? I ask.

Yes, her too, of course.

But they were the first three things I thought of.

And are they still?

Yes. They keep me going.

What about your wife?

Yes. Her too.

So, he says, bending forward, eyes querying me.

So what are the three most important things

in your life?

Not Tim Tams, I say. Not Doritos. I like dark chocolate. Red wine.

My kids, I add. Them too.

That’s what you concentrate on whenever you feel like … you know.

Yes, I do,

I thank the Welcome Ambassador as he shuffles off back to his office.

He could do with losing some weight.

When the Wind Changes

I walked past that place today.

Which one?

You know, the one we walked past last month with the nude couple canoodling in the front yard …

And …

Well, they’re still at it.

Must have happened when the wind changed.

Pardon?

You know that old saying: if you screw your face up when the wind changes it will stay like that, Well, it could extend to the position you were in when …

What if you were ….Or even ….?

Don’t even think about it.

Could be a blessing or a curse then? Let’s look at that photograph again. I can’t think of a better position to be in when the wind changes.

Nor can I.

A Half-Van Gogh

He’s just heard the news. He slumps, decides to act breezily.

“I am getting a half -Van Gogh,” he says over the phone.

“A half -Van Gogh? What is that?”

“You know how Van Gogh lopped off his left ear after a fit of madness, or so it’s claimed?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I’m getting half my left ear, the lobe lopped off.”

Silence.

“Why? Why would you do that?”

“It’s cancerous.”

“Oh dear.”

“You said you would love me even if I had half my face missing.”

“I know but …”

“Hello. Hello…”

Dial tone.





*photo by Jean Carlo Emer from Pinterest

True Colours: the Story behind No Sympathy …

When people ask me, did you have any inkling in all that time you knew him, I say, not really, then I think of the incident in the restaurant,the one that slipped beneath my notice in what was meant to be a piece of devilish fluff in ‘No Sympathy ….’

It began in the third line: Hey! Is that a glass of water you threw over me? That’s when autobiography took over and followed us out onto the sidewalk where I was shoved to the ground when my back was turned and my mate who had turned rogue did a runner.

So did I know? Did I suspect? I sure did: in those moments he unleashed diminutive, haiku-sized bursts of anger, I could feel the embers of a conflagration 18 years before that the forensic squad, armed with new evidence and methods of detection, were sifting through and building a case.

His mate, Dale , who let him stay on his property at Second Valley in a caravan while he got his life together, fell victim to Adrian’s wrath.

All that time Adrian proclaimed his innocence, He was the only suspect. He lived at my place for a while, He rode a bike, did the gardening, spoke to the kids, Everyone loved him. A top bloke, they said. Then the night ….

Once my friend was charged with the cold case and sentenced, he finally admitted to us: Just think, he said, 15 years for five seconds of madness.

That little haiku of a revelation warned me that of all the affairs we have to manage in life, our temper comes first.

And You Laughed

When I drove my daughter to her friend’s new place

in the Adelaide Hills

she turned on her phone’s GPS system

as we took

one branching road, then another,

scores of roads branching up, down, across

that went on for miles

deeper & deeper

into

the dark woods

& you said, we’re getting closer, only a few miles now

& I said,

Christ, how do they ever find their way out of here

each morning

& you laughed

but eventually we found it, we got there.

You be okay finding your way out, dad without the GPS?

& I said, sure, how hard can it be?

then I took off

winding my way back and forth

for miles,

there were so many possibilities,

almost running out of fuel & patience

till I stumbled upon multiple forks any of which looked good

so I took one

& that’s when I learnt the difference between

a labyrinth and maze:

a maze is multicursal [ many branches] while a labyrinth

is unicursal [one branch].

I was in a maze.

A labyrinth is easier.





  • pic courtesy of pinterest