Sunday, April 22, 2007

First Helping: Grandpa's Other Eye

The room wasn’t dark. Grandfather always had a light on, as if he was afraid of the dark. Timmy didn’t like having to sit with grandpa, since he smelled strange and was so old he wet the bed. Timmy didn’t anymore, and didn’t understand why no one was angry grandpa did. He felt that, at the very least, it deserved a spanking. He had been spanked over it often enough, and seem mommy spank daddy with words over other things.
      But grandpa was old and maybe no one spanked old people. Or maybe they went wrinkly from too much spanking; Timmy didn’t know, and people tended to think he was joking when he asked questions like that. Timmy didn’t understand how a question could be a joke; why’s were important.
      “Your mother says you ask too man questions,” Grandpa said, breaking the silence of an hour in his hoarse voice, like a crow in a room of men. “Do you?”
      “Mommy says you don’t talk much,” Timmy said, wary. Mommy had told him not to talk to strangers, and while Grandpa might not be one, he was weird. Which, Timmy gathered, was the same thing as strange. Which meant all strangers were weird. Daddy hadn’t agreed, and just said that Timmy was weird, which just confused things. “Why don’t you talk much?”
      “Why should I?”
      Timmy thought about that, gnawing on a fingernail. “Because you have to ask questions to learn stuff?” he offered.
      Grandpa laughed his strange laugh mommy called a death rattle. “You don’t learn things by asking questions, boy. You learn them by finding out answers.”
      Timmy switched fingernails. “That sounds stupid.”
      “Do you know why the sky is blue?”
      “No. Why?”
      “Because I piss on the clouds every night, and the rising sun changes the colour to blue,” grandpa snapped.
      “You said piss!”
      “Mommy washed my mouth out with soap for that two months ago,” Timmy said.
      “The advantage of being old,” Grandpa said, “is saying whatever you want.”
      “But you don’t say much.”
      “The disadvantage is no one listens.”
      “So you’re just like a kid. Except old.”
      “Or mad. No one listens to the mad, boy, even when they are right.”
      Timmy considered that with the gravity of childhood. “Like the evangelists on TV? Mommy says they are all mad and stuff. She says it’s like foaming at the mouth.”
      “Heh. Madness for profit is different.” Grandpa looked over from the bed, staring at Timmy from his good eye. “Do you know how I lost my other eye, Timmy?”
      “Mommy said you lost it in the war. I asked her.”
      “And was the answer she told you true?”
      “She thought so,” Timmy said slowly, gnawing on his lower lip. “She said granny married you because you looked dashing.”
      “She did, boy. But I lied to her. I never fought in the war. Real heroes don’t fight in wars. They prevent them.”
      “That sounds kinda silly. Who’d know if you stopped a war?”
      “No one, most of the time. It’s not something done for glory; if you do the right thing because it is right, no matter who stands against you .... all you’ve done is the right thing. It doesn’t make you better than other people. Are you smart, Timmy?”
      “Mommy think so.”
      “Heh. All mothers think that. What do you think boy?”
      “I get beat up at school a lot, so I guess so.”
      “You guess? Are you stupid?”
      “No!” Timmy stood, barely aware he’d done it.
      “Sit down.” The voice was still hoarse, but somehow scary.
      He did so, the command registering before he had time to think about it. “Daddy never talks like that,” he said.
      “So are you smart?”
      “I gu - yes.”
      “Stupid! Smart and stupid aren’t opposing poles, boy. Everyone is stupid about some things, smart about others. being smarter than other people doesn’t make you better than they are. If you want to be better, boy, help them. It’s why I became a diplomat.”
      “It’s not because you’re good at lying?” Timmy demanded, stung.
      Grandpa laughed. “A diplomat never lies. We are just selective with the truth. And here is one for you, boy: nothing makes up for that kind of lie I told your grandmother. But it was worth it.”
      Later, Mommy asked Timmy why he’d horrified grandma by asking for his false eye after he’d died, and all Timmy would tell her was that he wanted something true of someone. The answer didn’t worry her until much later.
      Then he asked Mommy about sex, and all she said was lies about men and woman and not the simple, pure truth of the stork. Timmy wondered if he would make a good diplomat, and if he loved his grandfather, and if it was possible to love anyone for who they really are. It was not the kind of thought he used to have, but he had an eye in his pocket now, tough he never used it in show and tell.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Poets Have Been Mysteriously Silent On The Subject of Urinal Cakes

Poets Have Been Mysteriously Silent On The Subject of Urinal Cakes
(December 2004)

Yesterday I baked a urinal cake
I didn't mean it (I thought I had to ----)
And I never thought they'd be worth a lot.
But everyone liked my cake and got psyched
That I'd made such food telling the truth's rude
(And would get me beat) So my weary feet
And I, in public washrooms, feeling sick
From the smells, are forced to bake more, of course.
Their hunger won't sate and so I must bake
More urinal treats, which is no mean feat
And then I pause to think: the gig needs a drink.
An idea comes, but I'm not that dumb
Or so I tell myself and yet I lie.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Letter

Dear Edna,

I know I haven't wrote you a letter in two years, but I must plead your indulgence. There was an uprising by the peasants, according to Ronnie, though why birds would be angry with him I have no idea. I sent you three letters last year, but I assume they did not get through since I did not get a reply. I hope everything is well with your Connie and her children. It is a shame about Cathal, but wars always use up our young.

I've been lucky, since Ronnie is In Charge and doesn't have to lead men into battle here. I commented on the loyalty of the men last night, and he made a joke about having poisoned their babies and having the only antidote - he is such a card, even with the responsibilities of Power upon him.

As I told you last time, he took over after the death of Lord Ishin and is keeping the Lord's son safe, in a Tower. I've never been in the tower, because security is very strict: I know Ronnie trust me, of course, but I worry for the poor child sometimes even if my Ronnie does have his best interests at heart. (I do hope the boy can't see the heads of the traitors Ronnie's men insist on mounting on the walls to feed the crows. I've told him it is Unhealthy, but he insists it keeps Morale up.)

Some of the other Lords don't seem to like Ronnie, because one of them tried to kill him at dinner last week! I swear, some people just can't take a joke - it's not my Ronnie would actually burn down a village and salt the earth. My son is the salt OF the earth, not the kind of person to ruin the land. I must confess, though, darling Edna, that I am worried a little.

He's been yelling at people a lot more lately, and once he even raised his voice to me! I didn't give him a smack upside the skull because he looked awfully fierce, as if he had his father's temper. Besides, it would not be good for his Image, and I do worry about him so. I know he hasn't been eating enough lately, and with all this talk about secret heirs to the throne you'd think no one believed Isin's son was up in the tower.

Sometimes I just don't understand people at all, old friend. If your Darryl is still looking for a job, we have opening with the palace staff. They keep leaving ,the Gods only know why! Ronnie has assumed me we have an excellent retirement plan and that the dungeons are soundproofed. he's so silly sometimes, trying to act all grownup around his mother.

Oh, dear. He's threatening to have his men gut one of the servants like a fish again. I swear, just because the doctor said he can't eat fish is no reason to act like a fool! A mother's work is never done.

Yours in peace,


Monday, April 02, 2007

The Wife

They ask why I married her
Hagalena-faced, eyes that do not
Turn to stone, but can't
Both see me at once. I told them,
Saying, drunk: ugly women
Are better, when you come home.
Always waiting, ready,
Eager to please, doing anything
To keep us, terrified,
Knowing so much of loneliness
That they will never leave us.