Life’s Story

It doesn’t matter where I am…
who I am with…
where I am going…
or what I am doing.
When I hear its song,
I have to stop and listen.
It’s as though I am listening
for the next line in a story
that I have been listening to
since I was a child.
As though I’m afraid that
even if I miss one verse,
I will lose the thread of the story
and not find out whodunnit,
in this avian mystery sung by
the Grey Warbler.  

Cats and Dogs and Covid

It’s the first day of another lockdown
and it’s raining cats and dogs and covid.
I don’t know whether to call the SPCA
or go out there and join them…
mask on of course.

Our cat wouldn’t think of venturing outside.
Not when there is a friendly fire
to stretch out in front of.

And no matter how much I try
to impress upon her the dire situation
we find ourselves in,
she just yawns nonchalantly
and suggests I scratch that spot
just under her chin.

The One-eyed Salute

Cats.
They mess with your head.
One moment they gaze at you
with unadulterated love
and the next with utter disdain.
(as though you’ve shit in their bed)

They sit at your feet,
as you lose all dignity
trying to coax them onto your lap.
And after sufficient humiliation
they give you the one-eyed salute
as they saunter out of the room.

Of course, later,
when you are nursing
a hot cup of coffee
they launch themselves
onto your lap, in a blatant
attempt to demonstrate
their despotism.

And the final ignominy is
after they have deigned
to bless you with their presence
they purr with satisfaction
while you stroke their fur
and their ego.

A Neighbourhood Symphony

A small dog
introduces the piece
with a staccato motif.

The low tremolo thrum
of the distant traffic
sets the foundation.

A small aeroplane,
pianissimo,
hums a lonely melody.

A distant hammer
sets the tempo
with an irregular beat.

A neighbour’s door
slams,
announcing the climax.

And the soprano brakes
of a recycling truck
provide the quotidian coda.

Grateful

A bright summer afternoon
cycling beside old man Manawatu.
A gentle cooling breeze blowing
upstream and a raft of ducks
showing me their backsides
as they forage off the river bottom.

And now seated on a bench seat
in the shade of a macrocarpa tree
I realise that it is the very same
tree that my nephew and I
climbed and claimed for our own
more than thirty years ago.
And I am grateful.

Gullible

From a distance
they looked like seagulls
but somehow their manner
was not quite right.

There were five of them
looking somewhat bemused
and pecking at the sand
purely out of habit.

They also seemed to be
discussing something,
nodding to each other
as if in agreement

that the travel agent who sold
them this holiday destination
as a dove’s delight had somehow
known they were gullible.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I have heard the saying many times
but today, for the first time,
the adage came with an image.

In my mind’s eye a cat dropped
from the branch of a tree
onto a roof…stalking a bird no doubt.

Its carnivorous smile vanished
as it delivered a frenetic, and not at all stylish,
catwalk across the hot tin roof

and leapt for the ignominy of the long grass
desperate to ignore the smirks and sniggers
from its avian audience.

Happy Birthday to Me

I’m not sure whether it is a
tradition of mine to write a poem
on my birthday or not.
But if it isn’t, it should be.

This particular birthday finds me
sitting on a garden bench seat,
once owned by my grandparents,
enjoying the chatter of birds and  
nursing a head-cold.

As is my want, I am musing on the
ideal metaphor for the aging process.
Currently I am favouring standing
atop a shiny board that is gradually

being lifted from one end.
Each inch that it is raised makes
the process of remaining upright
that much more difficult and hastens the slide.

Then there is the fine wine that becomes
more succulent as the years pass
until it turns and begins to take
on a vinegary quality.

For now, I think I’ll go and pour a
cup of tea. It’s been brewing
for fifty-three years…
it should be just about right.

The Fall

The Fence:
It serves him right.
Fancy trying to leap a fence of my height.

The Footpath:
It’s not often I get
up close and personal like this…
A trip, a fall and a concrete kiss.

The Bystander:
He was jogging with ease
and leapt the fence with finesse.
Alas, he caught his back foot
and made a bloody mess.

The Victim:
How could I have been so stupid?
How could I not see,
that one shouldn’t leap fences
at fifty-bloody three.

The Bad Old Days

Reading about the ‘Bad Old Days’ is okay
when things are rosy,
tucked up by the fire
all nice and cosy.
But having History
dished up for breakfast, lunch and tea
just isn’t me.

The Black Plague, World War One and the Holocaust
all catastrophic and morbidly fascinating.
The rise of Donald Trump, Nationalism and Covid 19
all terrifying and incapacitating.

I don’t want to ‘feel’ History
with all its barbed wire and hooks.
I don’t want to ‘live’ through History
I want to read about it in books.