The Man in the Box has a Few Things to Say

He had a rough time as a kid, a tough time as a teenager, and did hard time as an adult in maximum-security, an ideal upbringing for a Coffin Confessor, a calling Bill Edgar, the author, pioneered.  

You need balls to be a coffin confessor, a job, if you’ll excuse the pun,  he fell into. A coffin confessor gatecrashes funerals, and reads out what his client, the deceased, discloses to him on their deathbed. He is entrusted to let the mourners know the bitter truth that has been largely hidden from them all this time. There is always at least one of the mourners who receives a right royal drubbing, a public flogging by the lash of truth.

He3re is his spiel: “Excuse me, but I’m going to need you to sit down, shut up or fuck off. The man in the box has a few things to say,”

You gotta read this book. Every chapter is rivetting.

The Last of the Romantics

This time he’s really shitted off.

Had a turd of a day

and now he’s come home to find

dog poo AGAIN

on his freshly mown lawn.

His fury diarrhoeas out

of his mouth, and here we draw the veil of decorum

over the expletives to protect our readers.

A little calmer now he pulls out his pen,

the ballpoint

he uses to write romantic missives to his love

and pens

a warning. on the nearest stobie poll,

a friendly warning

but its double-barrelled exclamation marks cannot hide his intent.

He grabs

a can of beer, and plonks himself near the front window,

watching, watching.

Moments in Literary History 1

In the late Spring of 1891, Greenbough Smith, the newly appointed literary editor of

‘The Strand’ received a submission of two handwritten manuscripts.

Forty years later he described how he reacted on that day—“I at once realized here was the greatest short story writer

since Edgar Allan Poe, I remember rushing into Mr. Noames [publisher ] room and thrusting the stories before his eyes ….

Here was a new and gifted story writer; there was no mistaking the ingenuity of the plot, the limpid clearness of the style,

the perfect art of telling a story.”

The two stories that excited Smith’s interest were ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ and ‘The Red-Headed League’

The Sad Podiatrist

Lauren Williams wrote a poem about the sad anthropologist

spurring me on to write one about my mate, Arthur,

the sad podiatrist I see three times a year. We’re like mates.

When someone’s been intimate with your feet for such a stretch of time

what else can you call the relationship?

Usually he’s perky, upbeat but today he’d downcast even though I praise

him for finishing my feet in record time.

Just think, I say, you earn more in three minutes than most people earn in an hour but he protests that it’s not about the money.

When I ask him what it is about, he blurts out the old abstracts: Recognition, Glory, Adulation.

Wow, I thought, where’s this coming from?

And he says: “When did you last read a best seller about a podiatrist? Watch a Reality Show called, ‘The Good Foot

Doctor’. See a film with Tom Hanks, Chris Hemsworth, De Niro playing a podiatrist?”

He has a point. I sympathise with him, then he shakes my foot — he always shakes the right one — and I head out the

door, hoping he pulls his socks up before the next patient comes in.

pic courtesy of Wikipedia




Rusty

When I was a kid in High School we learnt things ‘off by heart’:

poems by Keats and Coleridge, extracts from ‘The Ancient Mariner’,

soliloquies from ‘Hamlet’ and ‘Macbeth’, whole passages from Dickens;

chronologies of The Persian Wars, War of the Roses,

biographies of the Tudors; not neglecting the sciences, we memorized

physics and maths formulas,chemical equations, and slabs from The New Testament —

we were walking Wikipedias; now I’m a big kid, into my senior years,

I’ve grown rusty, which is why I’m in the backyard walking up and down —-

the bees must think I’m mad —- learning by heart my NEW mobile number

which everyone but me knows





  • what things did you learn ‘off by heart’?
  • do you still remember them ?

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.

They Didn’t Tell You

They didn’t tell you when you trustingly submitted to a covid test that you’d have to quarantine for fourteen days even if you tested negative.

They didn’t tell you the queues would be so long, could take up to ten hours to be tested, and that there were no toilet facilities available, no hot dog stands

And they certainly didn’t tell you a fortnight in quarantine by yourself would be as gruelling, as solipsistic as a fortnight in solitary in a maximum security prison — and that you never even get to see your jailer

There is no training for this.

And anyway you’ve only got eight more days of madness to look forward to, so it isn’t all bad

Until you realize at the very end, your state’s in hard lockdown for at least a week so you have to go through it all over again

They’ve Taken Way the Steps


They’ve taken away the steps

the ones leading to the first floor

where JB HiFi is

cordoned off ‘coz of covid

the ones I climbed for practice

in case I made The Great Wall

but there are other steps

to keep in mind

that Stairway To Heaven

for instance

the one we all have to climb

to get to our Heavenly home

but if the climb takes as long

as the eight minutes of the song

we all might be in a spot of bother;

hopefully St. Peter has a rescue brigade

of angels on call

or a St, Bernard or two with a small barrel

of whisky around their necks

for those who didn’t practice often enough

on Earth





 
 
 

Certificate

I’m hunting for my birth certificate

once again

to prove that I exist.

They seem to need convincing.

Isn’t it obvious? I ask

but obviously it isn’t.

They need that slip of paper.

In fact they insist upon it.

Doubting Thomases! I think

almost inviting them to touch me.

But I hold back

almost afraid to touch myself.

What if ….?

Perhaps I’ve gone around kidding myself

all these years.

Yes, I think, that slip of paper would help.

I hunt for it furiously.

If only to convince myself.





Caravaggio's 'The Incredulity of St, Thomas' courtesy of Wikipedia

There Must be Some Nice Things I Can Say about You

Let me see.

There must be some nice things

I can say about you.

I get to hang out with my inner hermit again.

Where you been? he asks sullenly.

Busy, I say, busy. But hey! It’s good to see you.

Can we, you know, have a beer together? Bring in a Pizza? Watch ‘The Farmer Wants a Wife?’

Sure, I say, sure.

We hug each other. It’s like old times. There’s a tear in his rheumy eyes.

I got time now.

I go to the old bookshelf. It’s pretty dusty. Don’t get much reading done when you’re out and about.

And I grab one, that big Collected Graham Greene

and we settle into ‘The Quiet American’.

There are some stories you can’t read enough.

You could do with a shower, I say. So could you, says hermit.

We give each other a playful punch. It’s like old times.

I watch his hands, his fingers twitching. He pulls back the curtain, peers outside.

Do you reckon we could ,,,,?.

Why not? I say. It’s the season for it.

We stoke up the fire, sit side by side, writing our shivery little three liners, haiku on wind, frost, ice, hailstones.

Winter, you’re not all bad.