poetry readings – approach with caution
I planned to read some stuff in Scunthorpe
the venue is a good one
and some of the women
have caught the eye
of this grey-head wannabe.
I packed copies of my latest book –
passable, if I say so myself,
better than my ‘prentice efforts,
not great, not good, but getting ‘there’.
I preened before a mirror
in a soigné black fedora,
‘not bad. not bad at all, my son,
you’ll have the ladeeze moistening.’
not that I’m vain in the least.
scrubbed up, spruce, I aimed to set off,
in good time to catch the Scunthorpe bus.
until panic’s-ville! my flaming keys had gone awol.
(a presentiment of things to come)
I had a spare at neighbour
Raymondo’s, and panic over,
just made a bus in driving rain.
a sudden sinking feeling!
while fumbling aboard
with gloves and brolly
I’d dropped my wallet.
straight back pronto.
at my stop, another neighbour,
John Aloysius St John K. esquire,
one of life’s few righteous fellahs,
had found my billfold in the gutter.
thank you, Jesus
he passed it to me happily,
and, universal balance restored,
I hotfooted to the terminus
clambering aboard (what I took to be)
the Scunthorpe bus.
forty minutes later I wiped,
and peered through,
a condensation-mist porthole;
we should have been bouncing the potholes
of Composition Lane,
not passing signs for the local airport.
a second sinking feeling!
deep dark thoughts,
along the lines of,
you’re on the wrong bus,
and there ain’t another.
it’s raining stair rods.
you’ve a bag full of books
a flock of adoring fans awaiting.
your evening’s gone total tits upwards.’
the driver said, ‘the last bus comes soon,’
and dropped me somewhere, nowhere,
dead centre of a lorry splash-zone,
where every second second or so
ice-grit sprayed me head to toe.
as I dodged another drenching
a branch knocked off
my drop-dead gorgeous
I scrambled for the hat
at the precise instant,
my last-chance bus
it was blowing a gale.
the rain was biblical
I was soaked, stranded,
and could not get
a mobile signal.
I yomped four miles, or more,
avoiding snagging branches,
slipping, stumbling, saturated,
singing, ‘Jesus wants me for a sunbeam,’
to keep up morale
as I waited for either
a quick road-kill exeat or
slower death by hypothermia.
I tried to thumb
a lift from passing ‘hose me’ motors
nothing stopped and why should they
for some (likely) deranged
half-drowned roadside stranger?
Mother of Mercy – the end for Rico?
that’s how it goes – no blame.
I prayed to the Christmas manger baby,
dried the phone the best I was able,
and, miracle of miracles, got a signal.
a son arrived half an hour later,
rejoice, rejoice, ye redux maidens,
the people’s poet’s is safe from harm,
he will enthral you yet again.
weep in vain, you heavenly angels,
you’ll have to wait a little longer.
at Tesco we bought milk for baby Zebedee,
‘thank you’ vino for my son
and his darling wife ‘Rusheeeen’,
and a bottle of ‘medicinal’ Jameson…
after a splash or two of Irish
the evening’s disaster diminished
from a tragic brush with death
to a madcap slapstick episode
I could laugh about
and, with suitable embellishery,
bore audiences later.
the only fatality? my fedora
brutalised, abandoned, somewhere
in deepest darkest Lincolnshire.
(I’ll buy a new hat for next time at the Indie Café –
the first Thursday every month – an open-mic to die for.)
© coolhermit 2021