A Magnificent Lockdown

I almost tread on this fuzzy little chap on the sidewalk, out for a stroll, soaking up the mid-winter sun.

How’s it hanging? he asks.

Oh , you know; not bad.

He looks up. You out of lockdown yet?

Almost, I say, one day to go but we’re allowed to walk. How about you?

I’m about to enter the biggest lockdown of all, he says in a tone half way between excitement and trepidation.

Wow! I say. Really?

Yes, he says, metamorphosis. You heard of it?

Why, yes. It sounds magical.

Up to 14 days, he says. No food. No visitations. Reckon you could handle it?

If I could turn into something light, winged and beautiful, like a butterfly, I’d give it a go.

You humans can’t have everything, you know.

I nod my head sagely.

True, I say, true. Well, anyway, have a good …. metamorphosis, and off he trundles on his way, giving me the thumbs up, a tricky thing for a caterpillar. Such a clever chap.

On the Shortest Day

On the shortest day

I take the longest run

between one jetty and the next

and back again

rest myself against the rump

of a dune

listen to the sea shanties of the waves

while a mermaid appears, rises above the waves

swinging her wild, wild hair

in the sun-drenched breeze

until spotting me she coyly slips

beneath the water.

The jetty wades a little deeper into the sea

to catch a glimpse.

On the shortest day I tell

the tallest tales.

Ambrosia Lite

The sun peeps behind a cloud

I hope it is not too loud

The swallows doze in the trees

I’m in dreams up to my shiny knees

tweedledum and tweedledee

the honey-eater swings on the trapeze

of the scrawny twig

& I have another swig

of ambrosia lite

and this poem is shining much too bright

unmoored again I chase links

but my cottontail heart shrinks





  • image courtesy of Wikipedia

Do I Have to Call the Police?

I’m on the phone to my insurance company about a torn car seat,

We don’t cover wear and tear, Sasha explains. Unless there is a third party involved.

There is! I say. My comb.

There’s an embarrassing silence.

Your comb? Your comb is the third party? I don’t think combs can be considered culpable.

Hear me out, I say. It was in my back pocket, the place where I sit down and a few of the teeth — I hate to use a melodramatic term here — a few of the teeth clawed the stitching.

I need to speak to my supervisor, she says.

Music plays in the background.

Sash comes back.

You’ll need to get a report, she explains.

No problem.

And you’ll need to pay the excess.

How much is that?

450, she says.

I almost hit the roof. But the repair only costs 340, I say. It costs me more to go through insurance than if I paid it myself. Bloody comb!

Now, now … Sash says.

I’m going to thrash that comb to within an inch of its life, I roar, channeling Fawlty when he flays his car with a leafy tree branch.

Oh dear. we don’t need to call the police, do we? Sash chuckles.

I won’t use a closed fist, I promise.

Well, that’s alright then, she says.

And we both double up with laughter.

You Really Have to Lift Your Game

You really have to lift your game, I say to my poems:

pull the finger out, push the envelope, think outside the box;

you’ve been resting on your laurels too long.

Other poets are doing amazing things with words,

smashing them together like neutrons in a Hadron Collider.

Get this: ‘these widowed months’, ‘the dents of highway laughs’,

and my favourite: ‘the soul is a runway for anything willing to fly’.

Whew! they say. Is that all you can say? I say.

Will you try a little harder? I say to my poems. Come on, guys.

For the Home Team. They look a little hesitant, abashed.

I don’t know, they say. It’s just not us.

We’ve been through this before. Okay, okay , I say. I’m sorry.

Just be yourselves. Just occasionally, Huh? Would it hurt?

They look at me. Give me the thumbs up.

Then I play them Slowly Slowly’s ‘Jellyfish’ as a stimulant.

They light up, move to the music.There’s hope for them yet.





* quotes from Bob Whiteside’s blog: naïve haircuts

Some Poems Start Out as Poems

Some poems start out as poems, homely descriptions

of slippers, for instance or berry bowls, toasters

but then over-reach, chasing chimeras, conundrums,

leading us down a rabbit hole of nonsense.

Others take the easier way, finding their inner teacher,

their gasbagging guru. Some poems start out as poems

but end up as pedagogy. You feel you’re in

the classroom again.

Stalks

Tyson was a book worm. He burrowed into books, into their worlds where, if he was allowed, he would wander for hours in their dreamy, eerie landscapes. But he would forget things. He would forget where he left his slippers, his school bag, the present he received from Aunty May [ which wasn’t a book] for his birthday. Honestly, his exasperated mother would say, you’d forget your head if it wasn’t screwed on. How silly, thought Tyson but the next morning when he went to clean his teeth, he looked up. A pair of eyes on stalks starred back at him from the mirror.

The Scarlet Pimpernel of Cats

She was the scarlet pimpernel of cats. A thunderstorm was looming and the sun had already set and she had not made her way inside though it was her dinnertime and she was a stickler about that. Hail was forecast. Go outside and rattle the tin, I was ordered. I’m having an early night. Fair enough. A cold will do that to you.

On and off for the next four hours I did as I was instructed, rattling the biscuit tin, calling her name. Only the hail answered. If she was on the roof again, she’d be a soggy, sorry cat. Occasionally between downpours I’d check the road with the torch on my iPhone for something flat, gingery and blood-stained. Fortunately there was nothing. The Scarlet Pimpernel of cats was indeed elusive.

Around eleven I packed it in and slumped asleep.

Did you find her? came a text message next door. I’m scared.

No, I messaged. ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

In the morning preparing two bowls of cereal I opened the pantry door and out popped a cat! She headed straight for her bowl, wofing down the food from last night. I checked the pantry for tell-tale signs of toilet distress but there were none. How did you go for so long without doing a wee? I asked.

I crossed my legs, she said.  

Transcendental Soap

I wash myself with transcendental soap,

it makes me shine, lathers my hope,

rinses away all my petty needs,

you know the ones: the urge to pee,

to have three square meals, to sleep

it lifts me high, takes me deep

whenever I feel that I’m on the ropes

I wash myself with transcendental soap

Will This Do?

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“Will this do?” you say to your stomach at three in the morning. “Can I go to bed now?”

“Just a minute,” your stomach says. “Have I had enough?”

I know what it’s thinking: too little, it’ll come back for more; too much it will churn out nightmares.

“Perhaps a little more?” says the stomach, looking up at me pleadingly like a cat.

“No,” you decide, “You can have more in the morning like normal stomachs do. Come on.”

“Where are we going?”

“Where do you think?”

And it follows you back to bed, shoulders a little slumped.