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So, the old man croaked, 

which was a relief,

but only to some.

I was grieving,

but glad he got a triple eulogy.



The church was packed,

canned together in the pews, 

me swaggering between them

to perform the Eucharist, or something,

a Biblical ritual hard to believe 

still existed.



I thought of the old man, 

while carrying his coffin

as a pallbearer,

inches away

through the wood.

He was already beginning to rot.



Made my stomach churn.



Finally, the hearse lurched,

the funeral march began,

to there, the crematorium,

the old man returning to his dust.



Made my stomach churn again.




to the social confines of his wake,

I stood outside, but there was no escape,

and I knew I had to go in there.



After an hour I realised something,

a small drawback to people watching,

and listening to gossip.



It occurred to me:

No-one was speaking of the old man.



He was not only cremated dust now,

he was all but forgot about.



Spare me all this, just make it quick,

burn me to a cinder, 

get me out of the way,

please, for the sweet ever love of God,

when I die.






Day after day laying there,

getting bedsore upon bedsore,

the old man had lost use of his eyes.



He could hear, sharp as a razor,

but his speech mashed,

his brain whacked,

due to old age and disease.

I knew he was never coming home.



He had a good life,

falling in love, getting married,

and travelling the world.



The pigeons scattered in Rome,

as he walked through them,

toward his wife,

who held the camera, 

then took the picture,

freezing him forever in time.



And now he was dead.





The wake was a mess,

food wasted, tables stained from coffee.

It’s all too easy to piss 

in each other's pockets.



Renee and her sisters were there,

fluffing at their hair, smiling wide,

but in secret Renee was audacious,

reminding me of all the times

when we were alone 

in the swimming pool,

and she showed me her breasts.



She said, “ You never change, Joey Joe. “



I told her, “ Stop right there. “



Her husband was watching.



My goodbyes were quick,

every ounce of sincerity scripted,

and all because 

someone had to mention the will.





In the following weeks,

his ashes now collected,

and everyone crazy,

gone home,

a friend brought up therapy.



“ Grief ain't no good for you, “ he said.



“ Neither are narcotics, or alcohol, “

I reminded him.

“ Nor red meat, or coffee, 

or suckin’ on lollies,

because of the teeth,

and quit cigarettes and drivin’.

I know. “



Getting used to the idea of therapy,

the doctor with movie star good looks,

talking evenly,

while I talk fast,

and get a pill.



Therapy it was.





And into the office I went, 

swallowed by it,

into the green and white 

of professional decor,

to tell a stranger my problems.



I had no problems, 

always self convincing, 

because I knew the truth,

without having to set myself on fire 

to prove it.



I am the problem 

and I'm also the solution,

but they refer to people 

like me 

as a condition,

because it sounds much more polite.



Pricking at my ego, 

his words were flash,

and I saw his notebook and script pad

flat on his lap,

like guns that were loaded.



A profession like his 

never enjoys the answers.



But tonight, he'd leave there

with me as a file,

stored away alphabetically.

He'd be at home with central heating,

spa bath, heat lights, electric blankets, splendacious wife,

even a sports car,

and his home kitchen,

which nominates 

as the bridge of a luxury yacht.



This guy just wanted me to admit it.

I should have been smothered at birth,

so the admission gives him a job to do.





Like a hammer 

hitting a nail on the head

it fell into place.

My therapist was actually talking to me,

or trying to,

all to save an argument.


I decided to blossom

and tell him something personal. 



This is how I lost my virginity.



She was dark haired, blue eyed, tall,

and dressed like a prostitute.



I was fourteen, 

drunk on hijacked liquor,

smoking Turkish cigarettes,

wandering alone,

a prime example of poor preparation

if someone decided to kidnap me.



She was out the front 

of her rented home,

sultry, smoking a cigarette,

twenty years old,

her face still with remnants 

of her high school days.



All she really wanted was my alcohol.





Seduced, drunk, friendly to all,

talking in fragments, 

taken aside,

she showed me she had hashish.



Using hot knives she spotted me some,

but all I smoked was her bench top,

stoned from the fumes 

of scorched linoleum.



She was sorry, 


kissing my forehead,

and mouth,

and eyes.



And I swear,

this is how I lost my virginity.




She was aware of my age,

drunk and stoned and cute,

taking me into her room,

showing me her dragons and candles,

dragons holding candles, 

candles lit,

wax spilling over, 

cast green by a light bulb.


She was sprawled across her bed.


She said, “ I'm a witch, “ 

and I believed her.


Because I was just a boy.





Lips wet, 

sweetened by strawberry chap stick,

we kissed,

her age of experience in play.

I was too young to be there

in the process 

of being scarred for life,

herself just as young, yet old,

and in hindsight quite mentally ill.




by the warm folds of her vagina,

I couldn't stop 

this natural instinctive impulse,

pumping, pumping volume, 

human pump house,

having a moment of realisation.



What would my mother say?



I couldn’t wait 

to tell all the boys at school,

although I know now,

a gentleman never kisses and tells.



Pumping, riding, diving deeply,

going in twice

to keep her satisfied,

and the whole time we knew,

just how good this madness felt.




I couldn't pull out, 

couldn’t hit the anchors,,

too slippery, seedy, sweaty, needy,

the smells and rush all new.



The morning radiance in her face,

my youth now apparent to her, 

she giggled,

because I explained I'd missed school again.



Now my mother 

really would have something to say.



The question was on a loop,

and my bottle was empty.



The woman lay beside me,

curling her hair behind her ear,

touching my nose, 

like I was her kitten,

then scared me

- scarred me - 

with stories of pregnancy.



She said,

“ Your mother's little boy 

died last night. “






Oh, joy, she was at ease,

laughing at what she had done to me,

and threatening to do it again.



I'd missed school.



And we got back down to business,

panting, sweating, biting,

this older woman capable of witchcraft,


and killing small drunken boys.





I left in the afternoon, 

my balls in pain,

making it home in time for a lashing.













These things were my business, 

mine to hide,

a mother furious, 

a step father drunk and tired of me,

slapped in my face, 

slamming doors, 

setting it up,

letting my mother know,

through no uncertain terms,

that her little boy was dead!





The therapy ends, 

the doctor still handsomely curious,

but so happy

he could levitate.



I went back into the open,

back into the world, a selfish world,

or a nice world,

depending on who tells the story.



In this world, 

even a child has more brains

and honesty

to say,

without fear of retribution, 

“ I love you more than the world does.





But still the old man was gone,


forgot about,

people swapping letters,

sniping each other out,

over his estate.



If he had a grave to roll in,

he would have rolled over in it,


with a rotting face,

and those pitted bones.






Therapy and dead old men,

probing my taste in drugs 

through regression,

probing my sexuality,

and what car I'd like to drive.


A Porsche, man!



Therapy and hang-ups about my mother,

the bawling phone calls at 3 a.m 

quickly ceased,

because lets face it,

3 a.m is terrible hour to be woken up,

and be expected to keep your cool.



Therapy and grief, 

like old friends,

we can hang out.





Like old friends, we can hang out,

because we do have our good old days.



And we started talking about poetry,

with blank paper, a charcoal stick,

fooling ourselves this was art.



Poetry is art 

just use a paintbrush, all that.



Poetry is life, 

detailed by things out of the ordinary,

observed from all angles,

lived for the experience of it,




I'm a hypocrite.



A girl in art class once said,

“ And splendour walks in... “



I'm expected to think big,

but I'm sexually harassed,

by this line, by this lie.

Isn't that plagiarised?



And splendour walks in, 

tossing her jacket at those sailors, 

who wait for her to pick.

They all want to take her 

gently to the floor,

because she knows how to dance

beneath the big disco ball.



And if splendour walked in

it would leave me terrified.



I fall in love with all women,

who look at me, who pick me up,

which is hilarious by tomorrow,

when they find I'm not good looking.




Challenge accepted 

and pressuring me to play.


It was a stranger's game, 

and as most know,

we must change our names 

from town to town.


So, I went out there,

onto the land, into the Tasmanian day,

with a little dog, little much else,

especially a brain.


First stop was a tiny town,

with a tiny shop,

which still had tether posts,

for the sake of antiquity,

and the ghosts of horses.


We slept beneath the stars, 

huddled together,

with a woollen blanket,

dreams between my ears, 

bones between his,

and it's all good,

because that dog is still alive.


The night was closing in, 

but we could still see by moonlight,

climbing fences 

and wandering into the fields,

going far, 

until it felt safe.


I had thoughts 

of my head being caved in

by those who despise the homeless,

or being eaten by wild pigs,

taken from my blanket,

and no-one knew I was missing,

and no-one knew where I was.





We saw towns

where the boys played football

barefoot on bluestone gravel

swearing at every second word.



This is how I grieved.



The old man was gone,

I had my dog, a bit of money,

a jacket, a blanket, 

boots with thick soles,

and a long sharp stick.





We saw to it 

that seagulls got their share,

shrieking down by the foreshore,

the little dog jealous,

and still without a name.



I just called him Boy.



The old man died, people got to it,

hissing like pit vipers,

then late one night 

there was a noise at my door.

There he was, the little dog,

an all white puppy dumped in a box.



And now we were out in the world.

I was changing names from town to town,

because those are the rules.



At Treasure Island

those Swedish tourists called us over.

We shared their food, stories, 

their fire,

going all night,

and in the morning we went with them.



But miles on 

near Salmon Ponds they left us.



Our bones were aching, guts starving,

but with no time to waste,

or hang our heads to cry,

we had to thumb ourselves a ride.





Sitting cross legged by the road,

but the little dog was on his side,

praying for something to come along,

and he'll be saved.



The dog crawled to my lap,

looked upward, his eyes angelic

peering into mine,

but his eyes had plenty more to say.



Boy was thinking, 

“ I always knew you were crazy. “





Sitting on the steps 

in the cold morning hours

at the oldest building in the country,

sick, tired, and sick and tired

of being sick and tired,

and somewhat undecided.



We had to go, get warm,

instead of this,

sleeping in doorways, in fields,

abandoned cars, abandoned buildings,

all this put here to devour us.



My uncle was home, gladly so,

although he hated dogs,

claiming it's all because they shit,

dribble, chew, lick, have worms, ticks,

they have fleas, they run away,

and even some more, etc...



We went fishing, got drunk,

had a bow and arrow to play with.



The days spent with him, 

I got to thinking

about the old man, 

all dead, all dust,

my uncle now ageing.



Drunkenly, my uncle said, 

“ It's all yours, when I die. “



I'd like to live for a while yet.



My birthday arrived 

and we went out

with what money we had.

We gambled it, got high with it,

to entertain these new friends 

I was making.



Later on, drunk and slouched,

the morphine kicked in.

I turned blue

and scared everyone in the house,

and still can't remember 

where I got the drugs,

only the packet.


Time flies when you’re having fun

and it’s all fun and games 

until someone loses an eye.


The jacket I was wearing wasn’t mine

and I’m unable to recall where I got it.



In my pocket was a note,

the handwriting unknown 

to my fragmented mind,

and it read:


It's just another story


Making no sense of it I threw it away.





Surviving my uncle's home,

then into my own,

with furniture enough, a refrigerator,

and a bed I never slept in.



The mountains were visible,

from my kitchen window,

and the peaks never thawed out.



The little dog and I were comfortable.



Into the fray, however,

we had to add a cat,

the cat disagreed with everything,

and ran away.



At this time there was always a visitor.

I got into drugs a little more

and there was a tattoo gun in the house.



My friends and I 

scribbled on each other,

bruising and perforating our skins

with sewing needles,

slow batteries,

any ink that stuck,

and all disinfected 

to burn down hepatitis.



My house was the hideaway.



My house had an open fire.



My house started to get cops.



So, I sold everything I had,

got out of town,

went on foot, with my little dog,

right toward those mountains.



All this happened while I was grieving.




The mountains were high, 

stoned as me,

but with less feelings.



All snow is real!



All snow is holy!



And in the quiet of the mountains

near the clouds,

looking down the road, 

the flash lets go,

and lightning lines the curving drive.



It's hard to believe,

but we walked that road,

all on foot.



And it was time to go down,

back to the towns and cities,

to the claustrophobic homes

of drug dealers,

armed robbers,

my uncle and his friends.



Maybe I'd go down there

and take Sadie up on her offer,

take that shower,

and get sexually promiscuous.



The long walk down was easy.

I collected feathers to occupy the mind,

which I tied to my hair,

and to the dog's collar.



Boy spoke with his eyes, 

“ Now, I'm convinced you're crazy. “





You bet.



But it's Monday, lunch time, 

back on Earth.





Sadie was a brunette, grey eyed,

two kids taken from her 

by the government,

but she was an all round heroine,

because she hadn't taken her life.



She said, “ You can stay, 

but only because of the dog. “



Boy had his uses and skills.



We stayed a week, as predicted,

because Sadie was lonely,

and missed getting cock,

even she'd admit it.



She gave it up easy, 

because guys like me are romantic,

we offer poetry and travel,

manners, class,

and realistically,

no strings attached.



Life is subject to change.



I took her to a restaurant,

making sure the place was new,

at my cost,

which gave Sadie the tingles.



She asked, “ Did you rob a bank? “



When the old man was alive,

derelict in his bed,

and in a tin in his mattress,

he stored my trust fund.



He gave it to me, just before he died,

mistrustful of all,

but he always knew me, blind as he was,

because I have a particular bump 

on my skull.



He knew just where to find it, 

the clever old devil.



There was enough money to travel on,

far too much to decline,

and I spent it unwisely.



My character is flawed.



Sadie had questions:

Why all the rambling, why all the moods, what's with the beard,

what's it all matter,

and why 

was I still running away from home?


I denied her the answers

not the truth.



Sadie gave it up easy,

because I opened each door for her,

car doors, hall doors, emergency doors,

but I picked her a flower,

and placed it in her hair at the fountain.



As always

when I'm having my love affairs 

with the Sadies of the world

my drinking gets in the way.



Sadie kicked us out,

which cemented my quiet prediction 

of the future.



Little dog at my feet,

looking up, 

his eyes blinking from sun glare,

asking, “ So, crazy man, where to now? “



And we just started walking,

the direction choosing us,

because my mind wasn't on business.



My mind was still at Sadie's house,

at her kitchen table, 

having morning coffee,

after making love,

instead of drinking goon wine,

and hiding the knives.




They wouldn't let us on the bus,

which made the dog howl,

because I'd offered to pay his fare, also.



It started to rain, 

but we smelled it coming,

then the hiss of its downpour,

Thunder God beginning his hunt,

sending out splashes of sheet lightning,

like a searchlight,

for stragglers like us,

and all because 

we were stupid enough 

to be out in this weather.



Thunder God roared and boomed,

shook the ground,

made it hard to see,

he made legs unsteady,

and scared little dogs.



We found refuge in a car wreck,

lightning all around us,

Thunder God angry,

the dog crawled into my jacket,

and I began to chant.



This is the mantra: It will pass.



It reassured the dog.



When the storm was gone,

Thunder God appeased,

we came out of hiding, like the Sun,

and the Sun was smiling,

the Sun was good.



All hail Sun God!



We walked for an hour,

then sat down, right there under Sun God,

thumb out to passing cars.



Finally, we got a bite,

and the chap driving 

steered with his knees,

while he rolled cigarettes, 

and dope joints, laughing a lot,

and trucker songs played.



He got me stoned beyond the road,

right here in the millennium years,

when we should all have flying cars 

by now,

but not much had changed, 

if I was still smoking dope,

trucker songs played, 

they became catchy,

and I couldn't wait 

for this shit to wear off.





We came upon a crossroads,

four chances, all leading to freedom,

not a thought between us,

although the dog, 

with his nose for adventure,

was staring toward the Valley.



The Valley 

with its bright green grasses,

the lakes, sandstone pillars,

and calcite and clay.



The trees, tall as buildings,

animal dens,

and historical treasure trails,

that's the noise 

in places like the Valley.



The dog was onto something,

all these places I'd read about,

he was heading to,

and all on instinct,

like he knew he'd do this 

before he was born.



There's too many ghost tours,

but not a single ghost.



Real ghosts are like me and Boy.



And into the Valley we went,

starting up the road,

following all the signs,

and it's a sensual thing to be free.



Small town with a diner there, 

which used to be a prison.

The bridge there looks like it sways 

in high wind

and this is a good place, if any, to stop.



We eat hamburgers,

the dog was glad to be alive

with each bite,

and it's simply paradise to his senses.



He yaps and wags his tail,

twisting into a dance, then begging,

shaking hands,

showing me how smart he is.



Little dog, 

with a belly full of good intentions,

and gratefulness,

rested his head against me.



A kind lady stopped her car, 

rolled down her window, peeking out,

and she's wore sunglasses at night.



She called herself Rosetta.



Without a moment to lose 

we piled in there with her

and she was a retro girl,


and sometimes posed as a pin-up model.



She took off her bright red wig,

and she was a dyed blonde,

looking guilty as charged about it.



Into the night we went.



She thought it was brave to travel,

to be spare of ambition,

to discover life in the face of grief,

all things I was currently doing.




you could have been the love of my life,

but the old man died,

and my only uses were getting high,

or botching sex, 

because I had to be drunk 

to feel relaxed.



Just get me where I’m going, Rosetta, 

I thought,

so I can go get lost in a forest,

my little dog with me,

and have someone 

to read Robinson Crusoe to.



We had it made.



But first, before we went anywhere,

Rosetta took us home,

and her house used to be a convent

a hundred years ago.



It was perfect in the dark.



The dog slept, I bathed,

the coffee was good all night,

and she talked until sunrise.



Then, she slept,

and while Rosetta slept,

we gathered our things and left..



I fall in love with all the women who look at me.



And splendour walks in...




splendour - as a grown man - 

walked out,

hungry for the world and slender,

and drifting toward the stars

with a little dog at his feet.



I remember the words:


It’s just another story.


The handwriting was always his,

disregarded in my grief.



Thank you, old man.


And goodbye.



The End


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