“What are you staring at?”
“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.
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.
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?
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
In the pause between poems he’d say,
You done yet?
And I’d say,
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.
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.
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.