(aka: If You Could Read My Mind…I Wouldn’t Have Needed to Write This…)
Some endings are too hard to take, he said, right at the start.
I left my faded/Kodak childhood/just beyond my reach
some of it is probably/scattered in/traces around Clifton Beach
I’m glad I left it/then decided/to let it be.
It always belonged/to someone else/ it never belonged to me
Ghost From A Wishing Well: Castle Dark, Fortress Strong, Chains Upon My Feet
I walk along the Terrace, see the flat I lived in for years and years…
I had no cares, back then, beyond knowing where the next CD was going to come from.
My flatmates thought I was mad. And these were people that cheated on their girlfriends, took carving knives with them for late night walks – you know, just in case.
One of them tried to kill a mouse by smearing peanut butter on a golf-putting machine, one of them drank cups of tea while shitting, one of them watched pornos while doing his taxes.
I wanted to shout – “and I’m the bad guy” like Michael Douglas does in that film.
It was madness though. That’s for fucking sure.
No one carried a key and one day when the window wasn’t unlatched, for someone to open, one of the guys threw a drink-bottle through it, push the glass aside and step in…our new front door!
When it was my night to cook – I’d write a cheque for the pizza place and disappear, go elsewhere. Anywhere else (possibly in a bunker, because the cheque would likely bounce).
I had a room full of music and cigarette smoke, a head full of – possibly – undiagnosed anxiety (but more likely just fucking laziness) and I had about 50 or 60 square-grid maths books that I wrote poems in.
(The others in the flat could not handle that!)
The time when I found a guy taking a piss – into an electric frying-pan – on my bed seemed reasonable…particularly when he explained that the drinking game in the other room had it that no one was allowed to be seen urinating. Several of the others had just pissed themselves in front of each other, mid-swig, think nothing of it, South Island maps running down each leg…but this guy had standards…and a contingency… And this wasn’t even the worst thing that could happen of a night.
We rode a shopping trolley down the stairs and into the wall, missing a giant window that could have launched at least one of us into a waiting hospital bed.
We drank a five-litre bottle of whiskey on a pouring frame in one night.
Someone got laid out for denying a shot.
And all of this, and so much more comes flooding back to me, on Wednesdays, after lunch, having finished one job to get to another and from there down the road to collect my son from his school.
I look across the road at the house – somehow still standing – and think of Tom Waits and Bukowski and teaching drum lessons in the lounge, while my protesting flatmate tried to watch TV at the same time. His arms folded, his brow knotted.
I think of Baxter and Sam Hunt and Lauris Edmond and the one-night-stand that was referred to as a spear-chucker, presumably because of the colour of her skin. And that any of these sins don’t come close to the very worst of the behavior back then.
I heard one of the guys is a merchant banker – well, why not, he was rehearsing for that gig when he was sleep-walking blind-drunk to shit on a couch. The other two? I have no idea. Commerce degrees? And they graduated long before me.
We’re all lucky to be alive. Even more so to no longer know one another.
Heroes Often Fail: You Won’t Read That Book
I wrote a book, and when it was done – when I had the first one, I took it up to my brother’s place.
It sat on the table all weekend – and no one said anything.
A new book probably didn’t know it had to compete with a new house – and couldn’t of course. So didn’t.
It would have been nice if my brother had cracked the spine, turned a page, he might have seen a clue (or two) that so much of that music had been introduced to me – by him. but we heard about the new house, instead, and the next one planned for the portfolio and more after that – and then, without ever looking at the book, he said, at the end of the weekend, apropos
of something (I have to now guess):
‘oh well, whatever happens, whatever anyone says, at least
– now – you can say you’re a real writer’.
It might seem cruel to capture all this and in this way. But it’s the best way!
At least I know he’ll never ever read it.
What A Tale: I Just Don’t Get It…
I never knew if/my mum ever read/my poems.
Last weekend/ we caught up briefly.
she couldn’t/remember the/name of the/book she’d been/reading, nor the
author – but she definitely had
it – somewhere –
on her kindle.
“you’d like her”,
stories a bit
In those funny,
Reaching The Part: I Don’t Know Where We Went Wrong…
the old photographs/ don’t contain
me – I broke free/found my way
to anywhere else, to where(ever) I’m
meant to be…out/on the road
taking stock of anything else – no people, no
subject, no reason
but to be free.
That’s always the reason.
The Heartache Comes: And If You Read Between The Lines, You’ll Know That I’m Just Trying To Understand…
He was in town for the rugby, mostly. But it was a rare visit where it was just him. I was in a small apartment at the time, one bedroom and so late-night-laughs taking turns at the airbed; the vacuum could only suck, not blow. And after a few wines we were just stuffed. Breathless. Chests hurting with laughter and silliness and the task at hand.
And the task at hand the next day was to find a hat – for the rugby. It was cold. In Wellington. (“Bloody wind!”) And after several attempts we found the right beanie. One with no branding. Tough to find. Tougher still when you’re in the official All Blacks merchandise store…
The game was good. Apparently. Not that I really cared. But it had been a ripper. And we had a nightcap when he got back. The beanie off. Tossed in the corner of the apartment. (“You can have that mate. It’s done its job”).
Up early the next morning, the day together. First time that had happened – just the two of us – in a decade or more. And we had no huge plans. Brunch, maybe a movie, a wee walk around town. I was dropping him off at the airport late in the day. So we looked through the paper and found some war-related flick that neither of us was interested in. And went anyway.
“We’ll grab some brunch after the movie”, he said. Oddly, whispering that to me when the film had about 10 minutes to go.
After lunch he said “I do have something I want to talk to you about. But it can wait”.
I worried it would be another lecture about smoking.
We drove around the bays, to kill yet more time. Then home to grab his bag. Out to the airport a bit early. And it was packed. A cancelled flight or something. Maybe more than just one. People sleeping on roll-bags. Shuffling uncomfortably. We stepped over legs, aiming to find a spot of our own – a place to stand. To wait.
The call came for his flight. And he tapped me on the shoulder, “We’ll just go down here, come with me, I’ve got something I want to say just a bit out of the way of everyone else…”
And as we walked towards the airport toilets all I could think was ‘what have you done? What is it now?’ Had a debt collector called him, had he opened some of my mail, had he found cigarette butts somewhere he hoped he hadn’t, or more scratches on the car?
Then we stopped. In the middle of nowhere. A corridor in the airport. The nearest stranger about eight feet away.
“Look, there is something I wanted to say. But what with the movie and brunch and the car-ride and this and that and the rugby…”
“Fuck! What is it? What have I done now?” I cut in.
“Nah, it’s not you. It’s been a nice weekend. Yesterday was nice. Look, I think it’s going to be okay. But I have to tell you something. I went to the doctor. And I’ve got cancer”.
The airport announcement told him he was late.
“I better go” he said and extended his arm. We shook. And my hand felt like it was on fire. I drove around the bays, lit a smoke. And sucked back hard.