Blinking What? (2020)

Index
Cormorants
Photo Finish First Kiss
Disappointing Day
Individuals
Queen Cat
Messy Divorce
Blinking What?
Swept under the 1980 Hotel Carpet
Jobe in a Whale
Deforested Brain
Stampede on the Authorities
Conix – a short tall tale for grown up children

Cormorants

Greeting cormorants as I kayak past
I make seagull noises not knowing theirs.
They look at me with distain
wary of this weird paddling thing that stares.

They nest on the rock face
under a white moon and a pink sky.
Fish fleet-jump up in a sea-skimming race
that they do in seconds as they fly.

The sea as heavy as oil wells up.
At least, it feels like it does. But it’s pure sea.
Seagulls vie with cormorants
but it’s the dark birds that claim victory.

sdr

Photo Finish First Kiss

It was a photo finish
for who had started the kiss first.
She claimed her lips had moved in
before his had even got going.
He said it had all been too fast
but thought he’d played a decisive part.

The stewards were called in
and came to their conclusion:
She’d nicked it by a split second
but that both had been in full collusion.

Disappointing Day

The birds are back in the square
and my flat cat would love to attack for a dare
as they swoop from the skies to the tree.
But he’d find it nigh on impossible to be fair
to make any kind of capture or kill in his lair
even if out on the streets. No chance of doing his devilry.

The birds are starlings.
The poor dear darlings.
Mediterranean magpies on rooftops watch
and crank it up a notch
for my flat cat that would love to try
taking them on too but he’d probably come off worse and die?

I’m on my balcony quite serene
with a bottle of white watching the scene.
The chances of murder as slim as my cat’s
though in my head there’s imminent attacks.

For example, this very day and the washing
machine technician who didn’t bother to come.
You kept me waiting for the frigging
appointment for four hours, son.
I’ve been without a washing machine three weeks.
It’s under guarantee and, but for hand washing, my clothes would reek.

Meanwhile, the birds are still making a racket in the tree.
My flat cat has gone off to sleep off his disappointment in dismay.
And I’m left having to chase up that technician between a rhyme like third degree
or foul play.

Individuals

Leave these individuals to us.
We’ll deal with them, no fuss.
We’ll take care of them, don’t intervene.
Individuals that stand out don’t deserve to be seen.

rbt

Queen Cat

I just had to get my head down and change everything.
Sorry if I didn’t include you.
It was nothing feline.
I just had to temporarily, and selfishly, crown myself king.

rbt

Messy Divorce

Blood and guts over a solicitor’s quill.
Skeletons in the cupboard in for the kill.
Their skulls in dark mirrors.
Their eyes staring socketed at each other.

Blinking What?

He was going to disguise himself as a different person.
Tattoo himself: True Truer Truly
Was it going to be possible?
Pull it off without becoming his own worst enemy?

Jailers in his head jailing
had his mental health failing.
Time to rock’n’roll
before doing nothing took its toll.

All that was needed was a big leap into the unknown.
A criminally reckless act that would safely get him home.

Swept under the 1980 hotel carpet

Message of Love by The Pretenders plays
as a teenager weekend hoovers the hotel carpet before the lunchtime shift begins.
The blond girl at the bus stop is a daydream haze
with him writing the dialogue and directing the scenes.

Jobe in a Whale

I’ve just kissed a girl for the first time
I want to kiss more.
Went on a bike ride round the houses
and swam round what’s in store.

Results went the right way
on a global scale.
A day that went so well
Even tomorrow looks good for Jobe in a whale.

Deforested Brain

Your pop life pops out from the TV screen
And you see what mass acceptance of yourself might mean.
Down round without a sound
Lip synch the lyrics you found underground.

Switch off the screen.
Turn it on to see if it was just a dream.
Help nature take back the planet
As leaves grow over the set to remind you of what your deforested brain can never forget.

Stampede on the Authorities

The first hours are raining
on the back of an ominous year
which I foresaw
with fear
but which I couldn’t plan for.

It’s a new year in
from a field of ploughed soil.
Lemons and limes
left out to steal which you stole.
The first of this rain’s many petty crimes.

CONIX – a short tall tale for grown up adults

Conix is a rabbit. Of sorts. He’s actually a small, soft 10-centimetre toy.
This is a photo of Conix. And another alla Warhol.

Humble Beginnings
One day, a man, who would become Conix’ adoptive father, walked into Bufetti, the stationers.
A rackful of keyrings caught his eye. Small soft animals, dangling there. All looking up at him. A gorilla, a tiger, a mouse. But it was the rabbit that stood out. Had something about it. A kind of imploring look.
He decided to buy it. Would make a perfect little peace token for making up with.
Conix ended up in a bag and was whisked away from Bufetti and his keyring friends still on sale.
When his adoptive mother saw him, she loved him immediately. The previous night’s argument was forgotten.
His adoptive father or Babbo, as Conix called him, was English. His adoptive mother or Mamma, as he called her, was Italian.
Conix started talking from day one. Mostly in Italian, but also in English.
He soon told them with tears in his eyes how he’d got to Bufetti. A long journey, in the back of a lorry. In the dark. Full of fear.
But he’d survived. He and his keyring friends had been hanging in the stationers for only a few days when Babbo came in that day to save him, as he put it.
To this day, that Buffetti receipt is Conix’s birth certificate. Less than €4 was paid for him. Something often brought up when Conix misbehaves. Just to remind him of his humble beginnings.


Va Fanculo
Conix says this often when he gets annoyed at not being taken seriously by Babbo or Mamma. Or anyone for that matter. When he does it makes his parents laugh. Which makes Conix say it even more out of frustration.
This would be no laughing matter if any adoptive son, so small, said such a thing. But that’s not the point here.


Sea Horsing
When he was younger, Conix started sea-horsing. He’d float in the air and move slowly forward as if swimming like a sea horse.
He often did it to get out of trouble with his parents or his friends. When they were angry with him. It would often work. It alleviated any tension there might be. They would laugh or smile. It was endearing.
Sometimes though Conix did it and it didn’t work. He’d gone too far and had overstepped the boundaries of what was acceptable. On those occassions, he’d just say va fanculo instead.


Tall Tales
When Amy Winehouse died, Conix was distraught with grief. I was with her a few days ago, and she seemed fine.This was typical of him. Making out he’d been anywhere of importance when news broke. When questioned about how he could have possibly been with her, he looked up from his tears in disbelief as if to say How dare you not believe me!? And then very calmly said: I went to Camden Town last week on a Uni trip.
Everyone got used to Conix’s tall tales. And went along with them. They were so far and few between that his tall tales actually became entertaining as he added more and more unlikely details to what had happened.
No one ever believed him even when he was telling the truth.


Degree in Music
Paul Simon’s Late in the Evening is a Conix type of song. To sing. Or to dance to. Lou Reed’s I’m so free is another. Danceable, upbeat but with the seriousness of a serious musicologist.
From the moment Conix left Bufetti stationers, music was a big part of his life. He couldn’t help it. It ran in his adoptive family.
Babbo loved music. He could be a bit of a snob but mamma wasn’t. She liked all sorts. She introduced him to Charlotte Gainsbourg and Dandelion became his signature tune.
Though barely one year old, Conix decided he wanted to go to university and do something with his life.
So, he hopped on the bus. Which he often did. He was very good at hopping on the bus being a rabbit and extremely careful not to be trampled on by the other passengers. They rarely saw the 10-centimetre rabbit at their feet and under their noses, unless he got a seat.
He was often asked to budge up to let a passenger sit next to him. This was a perpetual nuisance to Conix who often lamented: It’s only cos I’m so small that they take advantage! I don’t see why I always have to share my seat!
That day he came back with the news I’ve enrolled to the music faculty and I’m going to do a degree in music.
He showed his parents the study plan form he’d filled in.

His parents read through it as Conix waited to have a melt down if they didn’t approve. After a few minutes they gave Conix a thumbs up (which came up to his neck).
From the moment he enrolled, Conix was a model student. Dedicated to his subject. Motivated. The first two hefty exams on the blues (Blues I and Blues II) got him on his way and he never looked back.
Babbo and Mamma waited on news of exam results. They were usually 30/30. He’d pass every exam with flying colours. If he only got 28 for example, Conix always had a reason why. Usually because he’d been robbed or because the profs were jealous of him cos he spoke English so well.
There was never any doubt he would graduate, even when he went a bit mad with students on nights out. Nights that always took more toll on them than him. Many students failed to finish their degree in music. Conix always felt he had an advantage over them because he understood English and had no problem understanding lyrics or the culture. It was quiet confidence with no tall tales.
He spent the last year writing his thesis and would often snap back if invited out for a trip anywhere: How will I ever finish this if I go out?
He graduated on 29th November – on the 13th anniversary of George Harrison’s death. In 2014. When he graduated, Conix told his parents he would be leaving home thereafter. He was four and a half years old.
At his graduation party, he only invited Dino, his best friend. Dino is a dinosaur and a fridge magnet.
Having graduated, Conix had big plans for the future.

Conix and Dino

The Opportunist
The next adventure as far as Conix was concerned was Paris. His uncle or Zio, as Conix called him, taught at the university there. Music no less. And Conix was sure he would get him a job now he had a degree in music.
A bit worse for wear that morning after his graduation party with Dino, Conix said he’d phoned to say he was on his way to Paris. And that Zio had told him a job was waiting for him. Babbo and Mamma drank their coffee and told Conix there was little chance of that. Conix just said va fanculo and carried on packing.
That evening, Conix was still at home. I’m leaving tomorrow he announced. He went on saying that for the next month and would blurt it out to prove a point for years and years.
Conix never forgave his uncle for such a betrayal, as he saw it.
It was the opportunist in Conix that made him say these things. Chancing it. His uncle still says he could never get anyone a job at Paris University let alone Conix, and that Conix had never asked him for one anyway.
Conix has since started to think about getting a qualification in sound engineering. More practical, he says, and I won’t need Zio!
Conix has been unemployed since graduating. There’s no doubt, not getting a job in music has been Conix’s biggest disappointment. And he constantly blames everyone else for his failure.

Beer
Conix loves beer. He has a small glass of his own which is actually a fridge magnet of about one centimetre. There’s no beer in it but being coloured amber to the rim, it looks like a full pint.
At the table, Conix will often slurp real beer from his parents’ glasses without drinking it or getting his nose wet. It’s understood he’s drinking the beer though.
Conix doesn’t get drunk. Doesn’t slur his words or act drunk. However, he often has hangovers and lies on a chair motionless. He yawns a lot and it’s best not talking to him when he’s in that state.
His hangovers are always after a night out with his Uni chums or with Dino.
Dino doesn’t drink at all and Conix often points out how he’s no fun. Dino’s no good at anything as far as Conix is concerned.
A favourite bar they go to is down a street called Corso Vittorio Emanuele where there are board games to play. Dino can’t play them, and Conix often says it was a waste of time going there.
Dino can’t talk so anything known about him is what Conix says.
When all is said and done though, Conix loves Dino despite his shortcomings.


Staring at Imaginary Lines
Out of the blue, often on the dinner table, Conix will go into a trance-like state. He’ll move his head about 20 centimetres right to left and back again, floating horizontally above the tabletop. Staring at lines that aren’t there.
There doesn’t seem to be any reason for it, or any particular cause of it. But it happens three or four times a week. And lasts just a couple of minutes each time. He doesn’t seem to be smelling anything. Definitely not snorting anything.
It’s all in his eyes, looking at and following imaginary lines.
Conix never speaks during this ritual. Then snaps out of it. Afterwards, it is as if nothing has happened. Everyone puts it down to something inexplicable to do with his world.


In love
His parents didn’t think Conix would fall in love so soon. But when he did he was besotted.
Teresa was his great love. She worked as a waitress in a restaurant near a beach in Castiadas. Or as he said with affection ‘Castiaaaaaadas’ and ‘Tereeeeesaaaaa’.
He fell in love at first sight after he and his parents had spent an afternoon at the beach in Castiadas.
Teresa came to the table and said she was enrolled at the languages faculty. But that she wasn’t studying much.
Conix talked about her the whole journey back to Cagliari.
Days later they were together. Or so Conix said. If there was any chance of not going to Castiadas any Sunday, Conix would say va fanculo and would sulk. And stay at home.
Things ended with Teresa out of the blue. And Conix was heartbroken. He never said why they’d split up. But sometimes when talk of Castiadas comes up, he says Tereeeeeesaaaa’ with nostalgia.
In London, Conix fell in love with a toy rabbit just like him in a shop window. 10 centimetres tall, she lay there motionless ready to be bought just like Conix had been at Buffetti.
Conix saw her and talked about her for the rest of the holiday. He blamed his parents for keeping him from her. He never forgave them for never going back to the shop. The female rabbit was the love of his life. Of course! We’ve known each other for ages! Conix incredulously exclaimed that first night back at the hotel. Conix couldn’t believe his parents didn’t believe him.
La Coniglietta a Londra would often be brought up thereafter as another reason why Conix had been hard done by by his parents.


Unfair and Square Defeats
Conix sees every defeat as being unfair and the work of evil forces or evil people that plot against him. These evil forces and people are normally quite normal and far from evil. But Conix sees a plot behind everything.


Dance
Conix loves dancing because his mother dances. He can do postures such as arabesque, attitude, and des bras much to the delight of both his parents. That’s his ballet suite.
But he can also dance in his own style to his favourite pop songs. His style is moving his head left to right and back much like that of Dance like an Egyptian. Or he seahorses.
One of Conix’s biggest disappointments was never being asked to dance in the annual dance show that his mother took part in with her dance group. He rehearsed at home for the show but never got asked to take part. Much to his anger. The final kick in the teeth was when one year a cuddly panda was seen being held by one of the kid dancers at the dance hall. Don’t tell me she’s letting that dance and not me? Conix commented disdainfully.
She refers to the dance instructor.
She’s another person Conix holds a grudge against. She knows nothing about dance in Conix’s humble opinion.

The Council of Rabbits/Il Consiglio dei Conigli
Conix holds a lot of bitterness towards The Council of Rabbits or Il consiglio dei conigli. How they’d ousted him as head. Used Machiavellian tactics and political backstabbing to get him out.
According to Conix, he had been a visionary while running it, and had moved it forward into new territory. Revolutionized it for the better. But he soon realised he was a threat to those in love with the status quo. The majority. I was pushed out! Little nobody rabbits with no vision! Conix would often implore looking at you with his incredulous eyes.
He didn’t explain what had actually happened in any detail. It was also a complete mystery how he’d ever come to run it in the first place.
No one actually understood what it was or what it did either.
Here are some of the dastardly members of the Council, as drawn by Conix.

Head of the Council now
The Evilest member of the Council
Member of Council
Another Member of Council
Member of Council ‘The vainest and most vacuous’
Another member of council ‘my so called friend who back stabbed me’

He often goes to the police to try to get them arrested. This has never worked to date.

Arsenal
Conix supports Arsenal. A perfect choice for a rabbit that is prone to meltdowns. Often playing beautiful football, Conix gets frustrated at the lack of silverware in the Arsenal trophy cabinet.
Over the years, Arsenal have always been there or thereabouts to win the league but to Conix’s dismay were never quite good enough.
When Fabrigas signed for Barcellona, Conix was so upset he didn’t speak for a day apart from You see, that’s why we don’t win anything! We sell our best players!
Babbo agrees but points out that Arsenal still play great football and are usually up there in the premier league table unlike Leeds United who he supports.
Conix never wanted Arsène Wenger out because he was French and tied in with his love of dance and words like arabesque.
In the end, Arsenal actually won something. The F.A. Cup and Conix went delirious. Next year, the league! he shouted.
Mamma stays out of any football talk which annoys Conix seeing as it’s such a big part of his life.

Globe Trotter
From the outset, Conix travelled with his parents whenever they went on holiday.
London was his first holiday. As they took the National Express coach from Stansted to Victoria station, Conix pressed his little white face to the glass in awe.
He loved London because of the pubs. In The Cambridge having dinner one evening, a couple sat on the next table, and a little toy orang utang (much the same size as Conix) leaped up on the table. Both sets of parents burst out laughing as the orang utang tried to make friends with Conix. Conix just looked bemused, a bit put out that he wasn’t the centre of attention.
Conix has been to London a number of times and has also been to Paris, St Petersburg and New York. Whenever he’s on holiday, there is always a photo opportunity for him.
He poses and the photo is snapped.
Tourists or locals are usually oblivious of him, even though he often talks about them, or comments on them, or even stares at them.
Should anyone suddenly notice him, he sinks quietly into his mother’s handbag to be invisible. And only comes out when the coast is clear.

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