I've been having a time. This is only my own
perspective but as far as I'm concerned it's the only
one that matters. No sooner had the plumber
fixed the faulty drainaway on the kitchen sink
than I accidentally cracked the coffee pot against
the tap while washing it and now I need to buy
a new coffee pot. But these are trivial concerns
compared to wondering whether or not it's too late
to begin reading all the great literature of the world
in chronological order taking the countries in
alphabetical order in cheap and affordable translations
where necessary and where readily available. The longer
I spend dawdling thinking about it the shorter the time
remaining to me. I'm not getting any younger and
I've always wanted to be well-read. I also wanted
a good memory so I could remember what I read
but it's not wise to  wish for too much. That way
holds only disappointment and I've been having
such a time of it lately one doesn't dare to push
the gods too far. I'm sure it's they who are responsible
for everything around me becoming blurred to
such an extent I'm worrying about worrying if it's not
too late to read all the great literature of the world
before nurse comes one last time to close the drapes
and wish me a pleasant journey and she's sure
where I'm going I'll be comfortable and won't need
my reading glasses or those magazines I keep hidden.


I've been having a time. I couldn't really afford
the cab fare although having only a 50/50 chance of
arriving in one piece is so exhilarating I figured
I could go without lunch just this once. Fear of death
subdues the appetite. I didn't know if she would be home
or not. I was bringing some pearl pies I baked
that had nothing in them except wisdom it's a recipe
I thought she'd find talk-about-able. In the morning
the librarian had told me to obey the rules or lose my privileges.
I was so upset I snuck off and cried behind the bust
of Philip Larkin, I think it is. Or Churchill.
The day turned briefly into the kind of air
I've always found it so difficult to breathe.
As we sped through parts of town I don't like
it struck me how behind those curtains are secrets
they never told us about. It's all so much hokum
in my opinion. Its not for us to know what
thoughts lurk unseen in the minds of men and women.
Only yourself matters and not what other people do.
Anyway, such is the time I've been having of course
she wasn't home. I know how regret can flap its wings
and cast its shadow. I ate my own pies, thinking how
we could've sat together and watch the car park fall dark.


I've been having a time. Today the shepherds
packed up the hillside and took it home.
They put the wool in special bags to keep it dry.
There was nothing left to do but take one last photograph.
And in the afternoon as the farm workers took a break
and sat in the shade of the trees to sip cooling drinks
and munch on candy bars I added a few lines
to the ode I'm working on and chucked out some of the lines
I added yesterday. To say that progress is slow
would be over-stating it. The thing about sheep is
they have no mind of their own and the other thing about sheep is
when they look at you it's as if they know what you're thinking
which is remarkable because they look absolutely blank
and couldn't care less and it's the accuracy of that blankness
and couldn't care less which is disturbing. When
evening came I realized there wasn't going to be a bus
through here again today and I was going to have to hitch a ride
or walk. Such is the time I've been having  I walked.
As much as one admires this country
one can't deny its hidden dangers. I told myself to stay grounded.
In my head I added a few more words to my ode.
"If you come and live with me out there beyond the cesspit
and be my love
I'll arrange for the garbage to be taken away as often as possible.
If you come and live with me out there in the meadow under the blue sky
and be my love
I'll arrange for the weather to be always tolerable." I'm not sure
the ode is my forte. The jeremiad, on the other hand,
is even further beyond my range.
And by the time I arrived home you would've seen my socks
through the soles of my shoes if you'd taken a moment to look.


I've been having a time. This morning
brought the revelation that while we were sleeping
someone had stolen our eggs. It was a mystery
for there was no sign of a break-in and all the doors and windows
were still secure. Li Min suggested the absence of eggs
could be explained by our having forgotten to buy any
but she has these crazy ideas and all you can do is humour her.
One day she will be old enough to know
what kind of a wicked world this really is.
Breakfast had to be forged from what scraps we could muster.
It reminded me of the days when I lived under the by-pass
and I was really having a time and all there was to eat
was the litter that blew in from the gas station
and all there was to drink were the tears of the woodland animals
who came to gaze upon me in my plight. Those days
didn't last long but I fear their return
and regret my neglect in making adequate provision for the future.
For a while today the world was completely silent
for there was nobody else nearby
and even the birds had ceased their song. The workmen
had abandoned their work and their machines stood silent
and there were no cars or buses or trucks on the road
and nobody sat outside on the grass chattering.
All would have been perfect had it not been
for a momentary dream brought on by too much pie at lunch.
I like to nap but fear its consequences in much the same way
as I fear waking up out of the night. You never know what's waiting.


I've been having a time. Sunday, and one could
lay abed pondering life's vagaries, making
pathetic stabs at solving the annoying little puzzles
always popping up in front of you when all you want
is to go out and buy that beaver hat you saw yesterday
as the bus stopped outside the mall. Hold on to your ideals!
is what Dad used to say, but it's easier said than done.
When ennui manifests itself as a physical feeling
rather than a mental one, is that the time to
begin worrying? Someone knocked at the door today
but we didn't answer it because we didn't know
who it was and we don't feel like taking
any unnecessary chances. You only have
so many chances in this life and wasting them
would be foolish. Later, when the pig man came
for his money, he told us that there were people
going door-to-door offering cheap pork for sale
that was cat meat. He told us to be on our guard
but against what he did not say. I miss the old days
when what you had was always what you thought
it was. I wish we could bring back history. I wish
I still lived next door to my neighbours and not
those strangers in their invisibility cloaks and with
words of mystery that seem to mean everything
I don't understand and never shall. This afternoon
I had the kind of time I've been having of late:
there was thunder and lightning but no rain and
I stayed indoors watching television on my own.

            Martin Stannard, 2013