a dangerous blue sky

on the fifth floor
in my vertical home
i am eye to to eye
with the sky
and the sky
is blue and delicious

syrupy
beguiling
infectious

and bloody dangerous

and
little people far below
are dotted here and there
social distancing aware
walking in little people groups
no more than two or three at most

an ambulance, all blues and twos
huffs and puffs and whizzes by
as little people far below
catch little people achoos
in soggy little people tissues

and i
press my nose
to window pane
licking the outside
with my eyes

i can taste
freedom
i feel alive

and then as i die a little inside
i curl up in a cosy nook with
my favourite Flann O’Brien book

“When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night,
A PINT OF PLAIN IS YOUR ONLY MAN.”

is 11.30 am too early for day drinking?
i wish i could day drink with you

and you
and you
and you

reflections

above
the humdrum city
rumbling and tumbling
in a bubble of vinyl.

espying prerogative-spiders
climbing pussy-willow-prerogative-walls
with a doffing of caps to 1959

(a good year. a piggie year)

and.

I think of you
post hairdo.

Gosh!

you are a beautiful freak!

and

as the city lights twinkle
I dream my American dream,
in my tv world

and
hug my ochre cushion

as
a girl with short fingernails
strums an ovation guitar.

a sip of light beer
a simple chord progression
G to C to A Minor

as
an ambulance whizzes by
(I hope their patient doesn’t die)

and
the overtures from the stereo
pin me to my funky Ikea chair

(a girl with short fingernails
and an ovation guitar)

I think I’m in love with her.

Shit happens

morning mist strokes the river
as creatures stir and day begins.

a moorhen chick floats by.
charcoal-balled. lifeless.

natural causes?
misadventure?
no matter.
shit happens.

tugged by current,
snagged and jostled,
bobbing in the ripples,
floating on the river Styx.
Charon ferries his soul
to Hades and eternity.

(or moorhen heaven)

i lean against a garden fence.
rickety with age, bleached by sun.
i crane my neck to the river bend
as the fluffy charcoal ball disappears.

i’ve seen it many times before.
this seasonal sadness,
choked in river tears.

the mist lifts.

blue skies and cotton
wool clouds dance in the river. 
a fanfare of daybreak.

the sound of moorhens
fussing,
brooding,
mourning.

the river is haughty.
strong, unhurried.
full of life and indifferent to weakness.

a nonchalant nursemaid.
a deadly assassin.
a fatal watery attraction.
a sanctuary and a grave.

the moorhen chick is forgotten.
a short-lived sacrifice.
an offering to the river gods.

soon,
new life will return.
return to this river.

new life
with the wonder
and the promise of rebirth.

and death will have its say.
death will have its part to play
in this soap opera we call life. 

Cybil and Jeffrey make home made Sloe Gin

The Duck Pond

It was a balmy May night in the sleepy little village of Fartson Parp on the Wye. 

Swans slept at the side of the pond, necks curled under their wing. The sun played peek a boo with the fluffy, wispy clouds and red faced children hung over the bridge waiting for their pooh sticks to emerge. A few confused children were waiting for their poo sticks. Flies fussed over the water (possibly something to do with the poo sticks) as boatmen skimmed and skated on its surface. Cybil and Jeffrey sat on their favourite riverside seat and watched the evening draw to a close.

“Jeffrey?”

“Mmm?”

“Isn’t it beautiful tonight?”

“Isn’t what beautiful dear?”

“It, Jeffrey. All of it.”

“I suppose it is dear. I’ve never really thought about it that way.”

“You’re a Philistine Jeffrey. An utter Philistine.”

Jeffrey’s face twitched. His facial tics were a constant reminder that Cybil was most often right and that he was a mere man. And, therefore, most often wrong. 

He sighed, opened his copy of The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western and flicked to his favourite chapter where Cameron and Greer met Magic Child in a brothel. Jeffrey loved this book as indeed he loved all Brautigan’s books. 

Cybil thought they were a strange read. Certainly a strange read for a retired accountant. Perhaps it was Jeffrey’s love of the surreal which blinded him to the beauty of nature? Perhaps it was a gin induced neurosis? Jeffrey loved a tipple.

Cybil threw chunks of crusty bread to a motley crew of passing gangsta mallards. It was the height of the mating season and unattached mallards would have a pop at just about anything. They were the geezers of the duck pond. As the bread hit the water it was hoovered up and met with anxious quacks for more. 

A passing cyclist stopped beside Cybil.

“Bread’s bad for ducks” he said. “Full of empty calories. You should feed them frozen peas.”

Cybil looked at the young man quizzically. 

“Frozen peas? But that can’t be right.”

The cyclist thought for a moment.

“It must be. I read it in the Gruniad.”

“But what sort of peas? Mushy? Marrowfat? Garden?”

Cybil’s tone pitched as she become more exasperated with this intruder.

“Is everything all right dear” said Jeffrey.

“No it’s not Jeffrey!” Exclaimed Cybil. “That frightful young man told me off for feeding the ducks bread!”

“Now listen here you Cycling thug!” Said Jeffrey with the authority and pitch of an elder. “Push off and annoy someone else or I’ll set my dog on you!”

“But you haven’t got a dog” said the cyclist.

“I’ll go and get one if you don’t go away! You hooligan!”

The cyclist left, mumbling under his breath about old loonies and who cares about ducks anyway.

Jeffrey put his arm around Cybil’s shoulder and kissed her gently on the cheek.

“There, there dear. The rude young man has gone.”

“Oh Jeffrey! You’re my hero! I think you deserve a nice large Gin!’

Jeffrey blushed.

“I’d love a Gin Cybil, but we’re completely dry.”

“Dry?”

“Not a sausage.”

“No sausages either!?”

“That was a euphemism Cybil.”

“Ah.” 

A Sloe Gin Comedy of Errors

Back at home, Cybil regained her composure and was manically rooting though every cupboard and drawer of their tiny cottage. 

‘There must be a bottle of Bombay Sapphire here somewhere’ she thought.

“Cybil?”

“Mmm?”

“Have we still got that bucket of sloes we gathered?”

“Yes. I think so. Try behind the Barry Manilow cushions on the chez longue.”

“Got them! Why did you put them there?”

“It’s as good a place as any dear.”

Jeffrey inspected the sloe plums. They were still firm and purple and decidedly sloe like. 

“What do you want the sloes for Jeffrey?”

“Sloe Gin dear.”

“You are clever Jeffrey.” Said Cybil. “What else do we need?”

“SHALL I COME INTO THE KITCHEN DEAR INSTEAD OF SHOUTING FROM THE LOUNGE?”

“GOOD IDEA JEFFREY!”

They sat on either side of a small, sturdy wooden kitchen table and Jeffrey powered up his laptop. 

“It’s not Friday is it Jeffrey?”

“Friday?”

“Friday phrases dear!”

“No Cybil. It’s Monday but Friday phrases will be a bit of a damp squib without Gin!”

“Good point Jeffrey. Are you looking up the recipe?”

Jeffrey googled Sloe Gin. 

Sugar. Check.

Sloes. Check.

Gin. Ah. 

“Cybil, I think we may have a small problem.”

“What is it Jeffrey? You don’t sound very happy.”

Jeffrey took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.

“I’ve been reading the recipe and ignoring the fact that sloe gin takes at least three months to mature, and Friday Phrases is just four days away, the recipe also calls for…you’re not going to believe this….Gin!!”

“We need gin to make sloe gin? What nonsense!”

“Apparently we do dear.”

“Off licence Jeffrey?”

“Can we stop for pizza on the way back?”

“Why not! Shall I drive?”

“I’d rather you didn’t dear.”

Later that evening Cybil and Jeffrey were relaxing in their favourite recliners. The sun had long since dipped below the horizon. The ducks had fallen silent. And there was a report on TV that a cyclist had crashed into the back of a slurry spreader and was stuck in the outlet pipe. 

Cybil and Jeffrey were happily smashed. 

“Another Gin Jeffrey?”

“Yes please!”

Time for my tramadol

4am

my sciatica
is giving me gip

the pain in my hip
is enough to drive a man insane

enough to drive a sane man
to kill dead things

still

it’s quiet in the early morning gloom
I’m listening to the arctic monkey’s mardy bum

while drinking my ginger root organic tea
prone on the couch doing my prone stretchy thing

and there’s not a sound except for a distant snore
of my other half fast asleep on a distant sleepy shore

solace

and my sciatica
is giving me HUGE, HORRENDOUS, HORRIBLE gip

it’s enough to make me bite my lip
make my brain flip, it’s time for my tramadol

time to take that pain free trip.