Telling Times

Wedged into the sofa cushions

Gazing at other people’s parroted opinions

Wasting precious moments on Twitter

My daughter asleep in my lap

Waiting to hear more news

From the hospital

Wondering if grandma

Will need brain surgery

As her Googled symptoms suggest

The paramedics were not optimistic

Though they thought it was just

Concussion at the last visit

Repeating the same tests

Hoping for a better outcome

Can we allow ourselves to believe in miracles?

Or will she, like grandad

Go downhill quickly

Seduced to eternal sleep

By a mundane global nightmare

Transmitted in a hospital corridor

After a fall.

Strange these parallel lives

It is barely a week

Since the last funeral

And already I fear

There may soon be another.

Will my employer be willing

To suspend their disbelief

In the cruelty of the Fates

And lend grudging credence to the notion

One family could be the seat

Of such frequent misfortune?

I cannot say

Only Time will tell

And I continue to offend

That elderly gentleman

Numbing my senses

Scrolling past the paltry nonsense

That passes for news

A political procurer of

Public opinion is protected

By his powerful protégé

After a very public breach of policy

Big whoop. Conservative tastes

Do not lend themselves to

Common causes. He’ll not swing

Unless someone else has something

Sleazier than he can sell

To buy themselves his job

Dead men’s shoes, don’t you know?

The anxiety mounts with each beep of the phone.

We are all waiting

Sick of this virus

And the dread

And the endless grind

Working from home

Trying to focus on the Big Picture

Alongside the minutiae

While kids run amuck in the background

Leap-frogging over the broken and unwanted objects

We can’t yet take to the tip

For a decent recycling

Attempts to home-school abandoned

In the face of reality

They are creating new patterns

In the junkyard of our

Once orderly home

While the pile of dirty clothes

Mounts ever higher

Overspilling the laundry basket.

We have an excuse

We have forgotten whose turn it is

To do chores

All days blurring together

In this strange world of lock-down

At first we were industrious

To a fault

Clearing the decks of any

Half-assed DIY projects

Every evening and weekend

Buying improbable shades

Of garden paint online

Two months in

It’s a matter of sheer chance

If we remember when to put

The bin out.

The phone vibrates with news

And as the hopeful message

Trickles down the airwaves

Past the sleep deprivation

Bypassing nostalgia tinged with fear

To sink slow, clawing relief

Into my foggy brain

I am alerted to a new sensation

The damp embrace of a child

Whose nap time has now

Exceeded their bladder control.

At once I am reminded

It must be a Tuesday.

Bugger.

The bin will have to wait another week.

REM Regrets

It’s the end of the world as we know it
And I’m feeling nothing is fine
Since slipping down stairs on the slime of your tears
As we stumble toward one more crime

With our pulses and tempers increasing
‘Til the drumbeats are all we can hear
With the pounding of chests just a signal at best
For there’s plenty out there now to fear

Do we dare raise an eyebrow to challenge?
Would majority views still prevail?
Those whose protesting shocks in the ballot boom box
Were a message: Society? Fail!

Is there hope for our woeful tomorrows?
Can we ever recover the cost?
Now we’re set on a course to an ending of force
May we mourn what it is that we’ve lost?

Identity Crisis

The boy on the bus
Was a scared little man
With his feet on his bags
And his mind on The Plan

The boy on the bus
That I left undisturbed
Though his nervousness made me
Uneasy, perturbed

The boy on the bus
Blew his nose, picked his ear
Buried face in a book
To pretend no one’s near

The boy on the bus
Didn’t flinch, looked away
When the hipster beside me
Screwed his top off to spray

The boy on the bus
Caught in bubbling splash
Of cool mineral water
Dripping seat, cuffs and lash

The boy on the bus
Friendless did not react
Kept his mind on the journey
To survive it intact

The boy on the bus
Struck a chord when I saw
How he treated the paperback
New from a store

The boy on the bus
Had I seen him before
On the flickering screen
Or in newsprint galore

The boy on the bus
That I couldn’t be sure
Was the one some authorities
Were searching for

The boy on the bus
Unremarkable, odd
With the face of a saint
Knelt in fear of his God

Cannon and Fugue

Bang! A gentle tap that led
To crumpled zones and painful head
That spring-filled day of summer’s heat
Her car kissed mine on busy street

And gingerly we clambered out
To see what damage had been dealt
With sinking hearts and pressed for time
Surveyed the victim and the crime

Two cyclists, blithe and loose-limbed types
In matching outfits on their bikes
Went gliding past the wreckage wrought
When seats, appealing, her eye’d caught

The lady, all apologies
Excused her conduct, batting eyes
All hopeful, proffering insurance
Seeking grateful reassurance

From each newly injured friend
That but time would all things mend
And litigation not be sought
By parties damaged without thought

Escaping swiftly, each with proof
Of damage done and photo’s truth
We flew to put you on your plane
And she, to hide her face in shame

‘Tis fortunate, as point’s arising
(Though the law find me surprising
For my view is one that’s not
By greed inclined to claim the lot)

That little injury was done
To vehicle, luggage, brain or brawn
As fault was not in truth with us
They fixed my car without a fuss

My Big Toe

Last time I stayed in hospital
I felt like such a fraud
It never would have happened
If I’d not been feeling bored

I took out my best needles
To try to string some beads
But dropped the thread under the bed
And crawling on my knees

Wasted almost half an hour
In a wholly futile search
To find the reel with only feel
Was never going to work

But giving up too hastily
In retrospect was worse
I shuffled back and heard a crack
Then hopped to muffled curse

For I’d stood upon the cushion
In which I kept my pins
The x-ray showed my poor big toe
Joint skewered, for my sins

They pulled it out with pliers
Having made my foot go numb
I hope that was the last time
I do something quite so dumb