sunday bonfires

I opened my eyes
and to my surprise
there stood Dad
nodding and smiling in that way he had
plus a few added extra spectral moans
cos he was twenty years dead and mostly bones

‘Ere we are again! he said. Happy days!
scratching his pate with a coupla phalanges
How are you doin’ Jim? Tell me – how’s tricks?
Anything a stiff like me can fix?

I sat up in bed and rubbed my eyes
‘Well – Dad – I said – what a lovely surprise
but I’d be lying
if I said your visit wasn’t trying
I mean it’s hard with you flying
around the place
it hardly makes
for a restful scenario
but that being said – how the hell are you?

I’ve been worse
dying’s the curse
of the living classes
lately I’d be hard put to tell you where my arse is
added to which I’ve lost my glasses
but even if I found ‘em
I haven’t got ears to hook the frames round ‘em
[but then he turned sharply;
looked at me darkly]
Mark me!
Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
To what I shall unfold…

whoa! just a goddamn minute I said
quickly sitting up in bed
Why the dramatic shift in gear?
Why’ve you suddenly gone all Shakespeare?
You’ve got to wonder how it looks
You only ever read gardening books

Mark me!
My hour is almost come,
When I to sulph’rous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself
and you know that’s bad for my mental health

Dad – I hate to say this
but you know I’m an atheist?
which is awks
all this talk
of purgatory and damnation
well – it’s an interesting situation
and not that I’m calling you a liar
but …c’mon… really? … HELLFIRE?
What did YOU do that was so terrible?
your only crime was overcooking vegetables

You’re right, Jim!
This is way too grim
I’ve been hoodwinked! Hypnotised! Taken in!
This is what happens
when you die and time slackens
and you’re prey to religion and gothic fashions
Just imagine!
Surrounded forever by ghouls and ghosts
with apocalyptic monotheistic guff to promote

So – what’s it REALLY like then, I said
Tell me what it’s like being dead.

Well, Jim – d’you remember as a toddler, kneeling
quietly by the window on a Sunday evening
as I worked in the garden, shadows deepening
threads of smoke through the darkness weaving
invoking a sharp and poignant feeling?
well THAT’S what it’s like, but 24/7
and whether that’s hell or whether that’s heaven
is a completely different kinda question

And with that he vanished in a cackle of smoke
And I fell back asleep and when I awoke
completely forgot the words he spoke
(mental note: keep a pad by the bed
or shit like this goes out of your head)

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