Posted in Unexpected

Blind Date

Mick was the sort of uncle every family needs
relentlessly cheerful
always good for a beer
a story
a party.
Glass never half empty – “it was bloody half full”
life was to be enjoyed.
He did.

with finesse, success and zest.

He fell unexpectedly and swiftly ill
disarmingly confessing to too much
and cholesterol.
No blame
no regrets
“ drink enough water it will kill a man.”

Funeral arrangements?
A brief service
religion not necessary
a tab on the bar at the local afterwards
err… ah… um… one question
cremation or burial ?
“Surprise me.”

Posted in Unexpected


The gardener came with a warning
passed by corridor telegraph
don’t get caught alone with.
Talk and talk and talk
until captive ears escaped.
I wondered if he ever noticed
how swiftly a third-party needed his audience – “now.”
Perhaps not.
Occasionally he got lucky
collusion refusing to rescue
coffee time preferring amusement to valour
or a desperate smoker unable resist any longer
stepped outside and was sandbagged by monolog.
He could find a listener
like mosquitos a vein – and flies faeces.

Still he did a good job humanizing the industrial stark
and it must have been lonely
with only the silence of roses, rhododendrons, rows of flowers
and droning backchat of lawnmower
and he was endearing
in a bedraggled kind of way
always in need of a haircut and new teeth.

I would have found his individuality charming
except a refusal to comply
annoyance frustrated one time too many – to anger
pointed at the sign
hissing, “ can’t you…….”
And then realized
he couldn’t.

Posted in Unexpected


After exams – serious drinking – then an unserious job.
Nostalgia forever remembers the summer as a farmhand
the unweighted freedom of thrusting youth
and harvest time.
Making hay
while the sun shone.
Shaved golden meadows
sun scented grass
barley water.

When the trailer is full
a bumping ride to the barn.
Pickup, load and stack. Pickup, unload and stack
hard and simple  – no ambiguity or complexity.
A bale teeters at the top of the pile
the farmer, quick for a big man, pushes it back.
It wouldn’t have done any harm – a glancing blow.
Funny you should say that he says.

Many years before he had been a teacher
cars yet to be two a garage.
Five shared transport to school
they shared petrol and colleagues foibles.
One morning on a quiet street – a lowercase t intersection
one car turning right, the other left
the school car had roadway permission.

A second look … hesitation… almost a third
convey falsehood – mistaken courtesy
both move at the same time.
A collision – brief and very minor.
Five workmates laugh
a good story for the staffroom
the other driver is slow to emerge
“shock probably.”
Seconds elapse.
Unconscious….surely not ? Cardiac arrest! Quickly now.

The door is opened and something fell.
Unknowing becomes knowing
becomes disbelief
none of them has seen a dead person before.
A small blow
exactly the right energy – precisely the wrong place.