It seemed everybody and their sister
had become a property developer – building a couple of houses.
Incorrect, said our financial planner
only every second person was,
but they were banging up four.
Try getting a tradesman,
better luck phoning NASA
and bumming a ride on the space shuttle.
The odd – very odd, one that came
quoted extravagantly – think of a figure add 35%
if they’re desperate,
or dumb enough.
He lived nearby
said he could call round
in the break
between Christmas and New Year – yeah right.
And he did.
Small, mild mannered and softly spoken
apart from the sun creasing
he could have been a clergyman in holiday wear.
A character home
distinctive features, looking to preserve and enhance
A toothpaste advert smile
“ you can have whatever you want .… to pay for.”
I liked him.
Antarctica in winter –
something like a Jimmy Buffett song
money and booze, the divorced and the displaced
apathy and self-loathing. Indifference and spite.
200 people : two square miles.
Too many rules : too much futility.
Not enough work : not enough purpose.
Time for a drink – always. And another.
Compulsory screening : a kind of psychology SAT test
provides admission to the longest night.
Despite everybody being certifiably sane
strange behaviour is frequent.
Or perhaps not. What seems unnatural elsewhere,
is nature to many here.
Coexistence can be difficult,
confrontation easy. Very easy. Too easy – eyes front,
The earth turns from the northern sun
light appears, then aircraft.
A ticket home. No charge. One condition –
debrief with a second, different psychologist.
Part way through, a topic thought non – examinable
I’m asked about senior staff –
“ I … I …. I, ah ….”
a bedside voice said
food service workers occupy an observation post
often they were astute,
recording what some might prefer deleted.
The tone is certainty without boldness
a tranquiling blend of flattery and trust.
Intuition assures reluctance –
this profession is used to guarding confidence.
Tittle tattle is passed
of excess drinking, of inappropriate behaviour, of poor example.
A plea made on behalf of the civilian contract manager,
he has done his best,
a good man, who always looks for good in others.
The response is curt : “John has failed for precisely that reason,
he seeks good in everybody, but in many here, there is no good.”
It wasn’t the constant sniffing … coke head, what do you expect?
Or the clothes, ever seen a well-dressed junkie?
Or the furtive look,
man, people like that, they’ve been in the woods so long,
they just are hunted.
Or that he always turned up every second Tuesday –
“welfare day, mate”
handed over the cash
and bought stolen booze
paying with his unemployment cheque undoubtedly.
On seller probably, or on swapper
swapping top shelf Scotch
for bottom grade Thai.
No, she said, it was the car
only one headlight worked
often drove up at dusk
then away – half lit.
She told him it should be fixed
always laughed that addict’s laugh … and said he would
always said next time he’d meant to –
then laughed that spacey laugh again.
Brilliant she said
made us think he was ditzy druggie, not an undercover cop.