The Stare

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“What are you staring at?”

“You,”

“Me? Why?”

“We are watching you unravelling.”

“There’s a word for that, a German word like watching people in road accidents”.

“Please don’t get distracted. Continue unravelling.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

“We’ve been watching you. You won’t be able to prevent it.”

They were right. I was like one of those wall-mounted paper towel dispensers.

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Once the roll starts unravelling there’s no stopping it and I wasn’t done yet. There was still a metre or more of me to go.

 

Greater Expectations

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Someone once said to me, Expect the Unexpected.

It seemed daring at the time so I took it on board.

The only problem was because I expected the Unexpected all the time I wasn’t really surprised when it happened.

It was expected, right?

Life was losing its surprise factor.

I felt heavy as a watermelon.

My counsellor suggested — wait for it — Expect only the Expected.

So I do,

When the Unexpected happens I light up like a lantern

twinkle like a star.

It wasn’t expected, right?

That Helicopter Kid

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There was this kid who stood at the back of the class

When I came to read my poems

And whenever I got boring he’d rotate

His arms like the blades of a helicopter

& the more I banged on the faster

His arms would whir

Until it looked like he’d take off

 

His teacher and the other kids paid him

No mind.

 

In the pause between poems he’d say,

You done yet?

And I’d say,

Almost.

And he’d say, Good and slow down.

And when I stopped, he’d stop.

The eagle had landed.

 

Whenever I do a reading I see

That kid at the back

His arms set to rotate.

It keeps me honest.

Falling Short

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I thought of the times I had fallen short.

Let the side down.

Not been up to scratch

Been urged to pull my socks up,

My finger out

To take a good hard look at myself.

But I was always a few kangaroos short

Of a top paddock

So it didn’t get to me like it could have.

And anyway you can lead a horse to water

But you can’t make it drink.

 

The Insoluble Problem of Motivation

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It had been on the vacant lot next to the church

For over half a year and no one in all that time

 

Could rustle up enough motivation to mow the lawn

Or clear it of rubbish. I thought of calling

 

The number on the back a few times but just couldn’t

Get motivated enough to ring or attend one

 

Of their weekly meetings & I thought about something

A friend had said about running a Special Olympics

 

For the Motivationally Challenged but the problem

With that, I said, was that nobody would bother

 

To turn up. I thought then of the historically highly

Motivated: Hitler, Stalin, the rapacious bankers, Isis

 

And concluded that a low motivated populace isn’t

Necessarily a bad thing.

 

The Perverse Mathematics of Anxiety

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Something niggles you

All week

Like a nail

 

in yr shoe

And you put up with it

That’s what

 

You do.

And then it’s all over

In two minutes

 

Flat

and you wonder

hey! why did I

 

Ever worry that?

But listen up! here’s

the sting:

 

The very thing

You gave no thought

to at all

 

burdens you all week

like an extra ball

in yr pants.

 

Life is brief.

Loosen up. Don’t worry.

Dance

The Challenge

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Maybe it’s the way I look or how I carry myself

but each time I go to the service station for fuel,

the attendant takes a good look at me and says

“Have a good  day. [pause]. If you can”

as if I was constitutionally incapable of it.

It makes me try a little harder.