Spotting the hit

July 9, 2016 at 8:15 am | Posted in Short Story | Leave a comment
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Click pic to make big and bigger.

Click pic to make big and bigger.

The dribble of doom …

This little tree did it hard.

Drought killed it outside while critters gnawed within.

Curling bark and chomp trails tell the story.

Now a nice council person has sprayed the tree with the yellow spot of death.

Soon, a woodsperson will be along to cut it down.

Its replacement already incubates at bottom left.

To the right, what might have been.

Life’s tough.

Live it while you can.

Brought to you by Imagine Day the book.

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Bitter brew

March 28, 2016 at 10:53 am | Posted in Poem | 6 Comments
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We’re all out.

Glug, glug, glug, go the dregs

of my dad’s last

home brew.

Not down my throat,

but in the sink.

Testament to

30 years

of continuous

unimprovement.

It began as a fine recipe.

With fresh ingredients from a ‘way-out’ 70s

health-food shop

that smelt like nothing else (before or since).

But as people caught on,

prices went up.

So dad started shopping around.

First the hops.

Then the malt.

The sugar.

Yeast.

Bulk buying.

Damaged goods.

All ingredients meticulously re-sourced to shave costs.

The result?

A total price of just six cents a bottle.

Dad’s beer used to be so good, I’d take it to parties.

Fellow teens would gather to marvel at my cooler bag and try a sip.

But as time passed, the beer got leaner and meaner.

Bereft of zest and flavour.

Until I couldn’t drink it any more.

Yet my parents’ thrift paid their home off in just

nine years.

My shop beer costs $6.95 a bottle.

And after 17 years,

my home loan is bigger

than when I began.

Not so smart after all.

Pic by Kristopher Volkman.

Farther lee

September 6, 2015 at 11:37 am | Posted in Poem | Leave a comment
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Parentless husband.

And father to none.

No gift but the present.

The future undone.

Pic by H is for Home.

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Memento Maurie

May 26, 2015 at 6:04 pm | Posted in Poem | 7 Comments
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Undertaker

gifts me a

branded

pen.

Lest

I

forget?

To write

dead

letters?

Or just for

next time.

Bright eyed

May 14, 2015 at 9:40 am | Posted in Poem | 6 Comments
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IMG_1306

Greek neighbour phones re

my dead father’s lawn.

A deadly brown thing

manifested at dawn.

‘Maybe he possum …

or maybe he dog.

When you are come here

to take a the look?’

Rain on the freeway.

Pain in my head.

When will I run out

of things to be dead?!

Under the plum tree,

next to the tap.

Your finest form broken

by trauma and snap.

One bright eye skyward,

fresh blood at your nose.

Muscles and tendons

now framing your pose.

My hand in a bag

(might you have the mange?)

But as I approach,

a feeling so strange.

If I touch your paw,

will you leap up and sprint?

I gaze at your iris …

Was that just a glint?!

Could you surprise me

with vigour and bite?

I wait and I hope –

but you died in the night.

I wrap you and bin you

and roll you to kerb.

I’d rather be stroking

that tail so superb.

I go tell the neighbour

and drive home alone.

I wish you’d done 60

in that 50 zone.

Pic by Wildlife Spotter.

Clearing house

May 14, 2015 at 7:08 am | Posted in Poem | 7 Comments
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Dead dad Yahoo note.


‘Your Fun folder is empty.’


Way to sum it up.

Death & The Afterlife – Frequently Asked Questions

October 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Article | 3 Comments
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Which side are YOU on?

Mine is not a Catholic heaven. Mine is a composite of the finest elements of many creeds, combined with desire and imagination. It took three years to create. I carry it with me always. It calms me like no other theoretical construct, reducing my fear of death and giving me a heightened appreciation of life. I figure it’s worth describing before I die.

Q. 1     How does one gain access to heaven?

The route to heaven is reasonableness. Those who live reasonably are treated reasonably when they die. This is fair, since reasonableness is seldom rewarded in life.

Reasonableness does not equate to mediocrity. It is a virtue as accessible to the anarchic bohemian as to the corporate executive. It means giving things a fair go. It means travelling through life without shafting other people or the environment. It means being gracious, hard-working, honest, generous, positive and grateful – not all the time, but wherever possible and according to ability.

Few can identify with martyrs and saints. Better a world of reasonable folk than one perfect person to every thousand arseholes.

Reasonableness permits redemption, since it is reasonable to suggest that destructive behaviour can be reconciled over time by constructive behaviour. The rule of thumb is to over-compensate. And given the uncertainty of life, it’s best to atone as quickly as possible.

Cooking with gas are the reasonable, for they shall get a fair go.

Q. 2     How does one deal with bereavement in heaven?

When the dead arrive in heaven, most nurse crushing feelings of loss – for their own lives and for the people and things they have left behind. The Time Elasticity Rule offers relief. In heaven, time is malleable; decades can be compressed into moments.

Most newly dead elect to fast forward eighty years or so. As a result, they are reunited with loved ones moments after their own arrival. Surrounded again by friends and family, they can better come to terms with what has happened.

For others, the grieving process is too important to gloss over. They quietly sit out their time at normal speed, waiting for those dear to them to arrive, one by one.

Yet even for the purists, grief fades faster in heaven than on Earth. This is largely due to the staggering variety of exciting activities on offer.

Q. 3     How does one avoid boredom when one is immortal?

Entry to heaven necessitates deification. But immortality is no fun if there’s nothing to do. Heaven’s Edutainment System is the last word in sophistication and flexibility. Because information and novelty excite humans, few are immune to its attraction.

The System makes virtual reality look like Snakes and Ladders. It employs the universe as a setting and time as just one of an infinite number of parameters. It is the mother of all role-playing games.

Yet this description is flawed, for what occurs in the System is real. In short, it allows an immortal to assume any form, in any time, in any place, for any period of time, with any degree of self-awareness and extraneous power.

The awesome power of the System is best illustrated by example: An immortal is chatting with friends over coffee. An argument ensues over the navigational prowess of the Laysan Albatross. Rather than check the facts manually, the woman decides she’d rather experience life as a seabird first hand.

She elects to return to Earth in the 16th Century as a day-old chick on Cape Verde Island. She sets self-awareness to cut in immediately prior to her first flight, but grants herself no extraneous powers. The weeks pass. The woman is the albatross. Only when she flings herself from the nest does she realise she is a returned spirit. Now she can really enjoy learning to fly.

She wheels and dives, revelling in her power. She discovers how to make incredible journeys, drinking sea water, sleeping on the waves, and chasing the ships of Magellan. After thirty years, she is drowned in a storm. At once she is back at her coffee. She relates her marvellous adventure to her friends and wins the argument hands down.

One man is so impressed, he decides to play the role she has just vacated, with a different choice of parameters. He is gone from heaven for an instant. Later, the albatross couple adjourn and compare experiences long into the night, replaying and reliving their favourite parts on the System.

From a tsetse fly on a rhinoceros, to a child at Joan of Arc’s execution, to a crater on the third moon of Jupiter. Nothing is impossible. There is enough to do and learn to fill eternity. Which is handy.

Heaven has everything for everyone.

Q. 4     How can somewhere so crowded be any good?

Some imagine that heaven is bursting at the seams, since everyone who has ever lived a reasonable life must be there. This is a fallacy. Heaven is not crowded, because only a fraction of those who have walked the Earth were on their first time around. The rest were immortals on safari, seeing what it felt like to live as a mother, or a farmer, or a refugee, or… whatever.

The beauty of the System is that when an immortal elects to experience a whole-of-life adventure with full realism, there is no need to create a new mortal on Earth. Imbued with the essence of his or her chosen vehicle, a ‘tourist’ is indistinguishable from the real thing.

People who feel they have met each other before may well be highly sensitive yet non-self-aware immortals on separate real-time adventures. It makes more sense for an immortal to experience many lives than for a mortal to struggle through just one. It keeps the numbers down in paradise.

No one likes a crowd.

Q. 5     How does one know if one is already immortal?

One of the most attractive aspects of heaven is that any of us could already be immortal. When adventure parameters are set to full realism, there is no awareness of immortality until death. You yourself could be an immortal, touring your life.

Those questioning the attractiveness of an adventure with full mortality need only consider the futility of playing cards for matches. Playing for keeps is infinitely more exciting.

The possibility that we are here voluntarily, free to return in any form once we die, makes the prospect of death less frightening. If everything we love is already in heaven, what have we to lose? We are able to enjoy every second and fibre of our existence free from concern about the hereafter, since we may well already be there.

Even if we are not yet immortal, we become so at death, provided of course that we have lived reasonable lives. The pain and suffering of our existence become as important as the joy and ecstasy, since they make for a more holistic life experience. And any unpleasantness becomes more bearable when it is known to be of finite duration.

However you look at it, you can’t lose.

Q. 6     What if one does not value immortality?

For heaven to claim universal appeal, it needs to offer something for the nihilists.

Some people maintain that on dying, they will simply want to stay dead. Since the success of heaven does not rely on everyone ‘getting with the program’, oblivion is a viable option. If, after a cooling-off period and comprehensive System demonstrations, the dead are not impressed by deification, they can forfeit their afterlives and disappear utterly and for ever. Few do.

Would you?

The Story of Slasher

September 19, 2009 at 10:20 am | Posted in Song | Leave a comment
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Any minor twelve bar blues progression will do, as long as it's fast.

Any minor twelve bar blues progression will do, as long as it's fast.

I’ve got a story, just for you,

about a girl that I once knew,

A girl born under a harvest moon,

in the house of Mars on the cusp of June.

The whole town got a nasty fright,

when Slasher’s birth scream split the night.

 

She grew up fast on the family farm,

long of leg and strong of arm,

And when her father’s tractor broke,

he harnessed Slasher to the yoke,

And downing raw meat, eggs and beers,

she ploughed those fields for eleven years.

 

When she turned twelve, as a special treat,

her dad let Slasher cut the meat

Of a cow he’d killed for her birthday,

to celebrate at a party gay,

But as Slasher slowly took the knife,

something snapped, and changed her life.

 

Deep within an evil streak,

bitter bile began to leak.

Sick of slaving all her life,

she killed her dad, and then his wife.

At the age of twelve, she stood and swore,

unholy faith to blood and gore.

 

Chorus 1  (fortissimo)

 Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher,

She cut off their heads and shoved them down her neck.

 

She’d chopped her parents into bits,

because they’d given her the shits.

When she was done, she gave a roar: 

‘I like meat, and I want more!’

So gulping the last pieces down,

she, and her knife, set off for town.

 

On the way, her pet dog, Stan,

bounded up and licked her hand.

She felled him with a fatal blow

and disemboweled him, top to toe,

While Frank, the postman at the gate,

met with the same grisly fate.

 

Just out of town there was a shack,

where lived a pensioner named Jack.

He was a gentle, kindly bloke,

who died at Slasher’s second stroke.

And with her hunger barely spent,

into town Slasher went.

 

She feasted hard, she feasted long,

on limb and brain, heart and schlong.

Then up into the hills she fled,

and in a dark cave made her bed

And once a month, for nine long years,

she fed on grown-ups, kids and beer.

 

Chorus 1

 

One night, Mars eclipsed the moon,

and all the good townspeople knew

That with the dawning of the sun,

Slasher would turn twenty-one

And though it caused and awful rift,

they chose among themselves a gift.

 

A boy with hair as black as night,

complexion fair and body tight

Was stripped and scrubbed with sacred soap,

and tightly bound with golden rope.

Then, creeping with the stealth of mice,

the people left their sacrifice.

 

On her birthday, Slasher stirred,

and took the boy without a word.

As she prepared herself to feed,

she caught his eye, and felt a need

That hitherto she had not known,

the seeds of love had just been sown.

 

‘Young boy, will you marry me? 

We’ll live in filth, beside the sea.

I’ll catch people, you’ll catch fish,

and I’ll fulfill your every wish.

And look!  To show you how I’m fond,

I’ve loosened all your golden bonds.’

 

When he was free the boy stood tall

and grabbed her knife from off the wall.

He plunged it in her beating heart,

and then the blood began to start.

It flowed ’til half past six that night,

when, at the climax of their fight:

 

Chorus 2  (fortissimo)

Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher, Slasher,

He cut off her head and shoved it down her neck.

The Bloke Who Drives The Bus

August 29, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Posted in Short Story | 2 Comments
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Pic by Steffe

G’day.

I’m a bloke.

I drive a bus.

THE bus.

The bus people get hit by when they’re least prepared for it.

In layperson’s terms, you could say I’m the bloke who drives the bus.

Except that sometimes I drive a truck.

I don’t mind; it makes for variety and the results are generally the same.

It’s weird that most people fear buses more than trucks. I keep stats for my own interest; it’s currently a 70/30 split in favour of buses.

I don’t get it. Compared to rigs, I reckon buses are pretty tame. Except the ones in Africa with 90 people on the roof.

On a muddy mountain track you can really get up some momentum, though the brakes and shockers are usually shot, which ruins your aim.

When I worked Gabon in my early years, I had to sideswipe more than one target and the collateral damage was not pleasant.

I’ve done a bit of research on my craft.

Did you know that ‘omnibus’ means ‘for everyone’ in Latin? Common English usage shortened it to ‘bus’. In Italian, there are eleven names for buses of every kind. I sh*t you not: autoalveare, autobus, autosnodato, autotreno, belvedere, carro alpino, char-a-banc, corriera, filovia, pullman and torpedone.

What is it with these people? I prefer ‘omnibus’ because for me, everyone is a potential mark.

Benz built the world’s first omnibus in 1895. Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft produced a truck the following year. Maybe that’s how buses got the jump in urban mythology. As you can imagine, they were pretty thin on the ground at first. Helmut, my great-great-great-grandfather, was a champion driving bloke.

How he managed to orchestrate a pile up with the only other two commercial vehicles in Cannstatt is anybody’s guess. That he caused so much carnage with only four horsepower is even more impressive.

I guess it’s in our blood.

For me, it always starts as a tingle in my right thigh – deep down where I can never scratch. I can be driving the same route I’ve been on for months and then suddenly, I know I simply have to nail that Finance Director who’s exiting the Melbourne Club.

Uncle Roy gets a nervous tic in his left eye; brother Norman wets his pants and cousin Enid … well, let’s just say she really looks forward to getting her ‘message’.

Whatever the medium, we all know when it’s time. And thanks to the amazing safety features of today’s vehicles, we invariably live to tell the tale. You know when the newsreaders say: ‘the driver escaped serious injury’ or ‘the driver walked away unhurt’? Well, that’s us.

When it’s showtime, surprise is everything. As pedestrians, we’ve all had close shaves with traffic. Driving blokes play this to the max. The best outfits run vehicles so quiet you can get onto your targets before they know what’s hit them.

The Kenworth T800 Liquefied Natural Gas rig is quieter than any diesel on the road and produces 60% less nitrous oxide to boot. Raley’s Supermarkets of Sacramento runs a fleet of these, providing an excellent training platform for younger blokes.

But even your standard Mack can benefit from accessorising. Take the Goodyear Eagle LS. With curved pitch boundaries, triple tread block geometry and wide circumferential channels, it’s the king of stealth.

As you can probably tell, I love technology. Every now and then I get the urge to be an owner-driver.

More than anything, I’d like to run road trains out of Alice Springs. No witnesses, plenty of power and oodles of room to maneouvre. But with my record, I’d never get the permits.

I’ve been a driving bloke for 40 years now, but it wasn’t always the case.

I first felt the call on my Schwinn tricycle at kindergarten. When I got sent home for piloting Virginia Folvig onto a wooden peg (a’ la ‘Midnight Express’), my parents bought me a pedal car. I was horrified at what I’d done and resolved to take public transport thereafter.

This was fine until high school. For two years straight, bullies held me on the bus beyond my stop.

Then along came Stan.

No other driver had ever heeded my cries, let alone interceded. For weeks he was my guardian, until the boys got even.

They hijacked him one dark winter afternoon.

Their frozen oranges crazed his windows and startled him into a violent skid, which ended in the foundations of the school’s new swimming pool.

The boys successfully denied everything.

I have their names, though. My family has promised to alert me if any come up in the course of our business.

We’re all over the world now, my family. We love being instruments of Fate.

It’s so empowering; we never take a sickie. This can be risky where vehicles are publicly owned and malingering is a way of life.

Fortunately, economic rationalism is privatising most fleets. It’s perfect – increased turnover promotes anonymity, while low morale, reduced maintenance and deregulation make it easy to shift the blame.

To be on the safe side, we generally change employers every few hits. People are so superstitious.

The most interesting aspect of my work is the aftermath.

Though death by heavy vehicle is clearly a fact of life (Google provides over 13,000 returns for the phrase: ‘hit by a bus’), few firms have a progression and succession plan hardy enough to handle the spontaneous loss of key employees.

Of course, most organisations are only really scared of losing senior staff.

I find this endlessly amusing, since it’s generally the loss of ‘little people’ that causes the greatest havoc.

I once despatched a popular tea lady at a small factory. It took management two months to replace her, during which time the union initiated disputes on breaks, demarcation and the use of contractors.

Scalds and fights over biscuits blew the WorkCover premium out by 18% the following year, torpedoing a major export deal.

The job went to a competitor and the factory has been in decline ever since.

By contrast, I recently nailed the $250K-plus-benefits Strategic Director (Asia Pacific) of an insurance juggernaut.

No one even noticed until he missed his Hamilton Island ‘Resource Leveraging’ conference.

The irony of my role is that most people affirm their own deaths.

You know how those New Age types warn: ‘don’t give that thought energy’? Well, they’re right. So many times I’ve heard people say: ‘he only mentioned getting hit by a bus the other day’.

The universe is a ruthlessly efficient machine and I’m proud to be one of its drivers.

See you on the road.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

the onset of grief

August 29, 2009 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Poem | 7 Comments
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70's Barbie

My dear departed mother, Barbie Hassing.

my brain is getting smaller

as the world cuts it to size

we’re dumbing down the hard bits

since we found that i’m unwise

the small pond of the big fish

now the marianas trench

i’m drowning in life’s ocean and

it’s something of a wrench

the man who once set vcrs

can barely lick a stamp

i thought i had a searchlight

it was a miner’s lamp

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