Posted in Death


I always intended to look him up
but youth is not careful with time
and when there was, I had to look down – a headstone.

Legend said he was a lawyer in a former life
some rumours spoke of ejection …. others of spectacular abdication.
“I’m a painter son ” – the reply to the teenaged question.

Paint. It’s what we did
while the sun holidayed south.
Bleached mansions in a faded suburb
a once star, off the bottle and thinking comeback.

Immigrant families – two or three to a house
unfamiliar scents and new rhythms
fathers who forbade me talking to daughters
mothers who knew painters were the death knell. Sale. Eviction.

Enlightenment didn’t realise until much later
improvement of lives was always imagined
Cinderella, dressed for the ball one more time.
Socialism. Wrong. Capital gain.

Still slack should be cut for age
and entertainment value of the boss – Morrie
two syllables… nothing more ever needed.
At the hardware store. No invoice, only statement… “ For Morrie.”

Stories about him filled the about to rise again borough
even if half
were half true!
With coffee, first-hand accounts of his battles with bureaucracies
the bank, his wives : past and present. All hilarious.

Flippant about himself and his ambitions
he told me, when the time came to purchase a house, to consult him
and he would tell me which ones not to.

Not a painter, a property developer
wide awake to the wide boys
a wheeler dealer and rogue, who every Friday lunchtime
handed over a bundle of notes … then drove me to the bank.

Education is different now, students not exposed to
the heterogeneity of the wool store
the killing plants
the building site
they would never meet a Morrie
an irreversible loss of social diversity. Their world is much poorer.

For the back story click Backstage
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Most of my life has been spent on the bench, occasionally called into the game by extravagance or attenuation. Waiting has turned a loner into a recorder - nondescript and inconsequential, more not noticed than overlooked - the non-vantage point of children not yet considered old enough to understand. Orphaned Islands (Un)poetry is a lifetime of picking anecdotes up and not throwing them away. Stories collected like odds and ends placed in a box in the basement, the garage, the garden shed - uncertain as to what their use might be but knowing that one day there might be one.