twenty twenty whoo-hoo

about half past three
there was a buzz on the buzzer
I thought it was the postie
or someone or other

so imagine my surprise
when I found instead
my dad outside
after many years dead

the biggest shock to me
wasn’t the ghostly visitation
it’s just that normally
it’s a showier presentation

‘I know! I know!’ he said
shaking out his cloak
picking a hair-like worm from his head
(he was an image conscious bloke)

‘I’m done with all that theatrical shit
it gets a spirit down
when all you want is to get out for a bit
you go CRAZY underground’

he carefully wiped his calcaneum
on the welcome mat
then stomped across the linoleum
to sit and have a chat

‘How are things?’ I said
and gave a wincy grimace
c’mon! the guy was ten years dead
I should probably act more serious

he shrugged a little
which was quite a relief
‘better than in hospital’
and smiled with all his teeth

‘Jim? This is the last of my spectral visits
sorry to sound so doomy
but I need to know why the hell is it
you’ve been acting glum and gloomy’

‘It’s true’ I said, ‘I can’t deny it
I’m struggling to see my way clear
and it’s always a job to hide it
around this time of year’

‘I totally understand,’ he said
‘The Winter months can be hard
especially when the earth’s your bed
and you lie there counting stars’

‘The thing is, Jim, you worry too much
live a little before you die
and try not to use your phone as a crutch
you’re getting RSI’

‘I wish we could chat in reality’
I said – cradling his cold phalanges
‘instead of in dumb ass poetry
that’s longer than the Ganges’

‘C’mon!’ he said. ‘It’s never too late
to talk to your dear old pappy
– although having said that now’s not great
the connection’s pretty crappy’

and suddenly he rose up
made a farewell pass with his wrist
and I sat there numb and froze up
as he vanished in a swirl of mist

I worried a while about the visit
but really I shouldn’t have thought twice
he was always good with the jokey shit
and not so hot with advice

Hamlet junior

Dad came to visit me last night
– Alright?
he said
hovering awkwardly over the bed
well… given he’d been dead for years
then suddenly appears
like this
I couldn’t immediately say yes

– Harken to my warning!
I yawned
:: Wha’d’ya mean harken? I said
plumping the pillows behind my head
(because I got the impression
this ghostly session
might go on a bit
and I wanted to be more comfortable for it)

I have to say he looked amazing
Fading
in and out
throwing his glowing arms about
brown eyes burning
bald head turning
a full three sixty

:: Hey! That’s pretty tricksy
– Sorry. We’re obliged to do this shit
For a bit
he said
sinking sadly to the bottom of the bed
– Technically it’s called ‘haunting’
code for all the bullshit flaunting
you have to do to keep in trim
Anyway – nice to see you, Jim

:: Nice to see you
too
I said
:: But I wish you were alive instead
– Christ! You’re not the only one!
I can’t tell you how stupid all this is, son
You’re suddenly weirdly obsessed with mirrors
and hanging about on the banks of rivers

:: So…no change there, then, since you died?
I replied
– What’d’ya mean?
:: Well – you’ve always been
a bit obsessed with your looks
and you had quite a collection of fishing hooks
I dunno – maybe you’re just tied
to all the things you did before you died

– Listen! I’m the one to harken to
not you.
:: Sorry. All ears, I said
sitting more upright in bed
doing my best to concentrate
I was tired, it was late
and even though this should be exciting
eight hours straight was more inviting

– Forgive me, my son
he went on
– Ever since they pulled the plug in hospital
I’ve become quite forgetful
I mean – it takes me all year
just to comb my hair
:: What hair?
There’s nothing there!

– See what I mean? he said
swiping his head
his ghastly hand passing straight through it
– A simple thing like that and I just can’t do it
They say RIP
but look at me
I look like I’ve just been dug up
:: Sorry to bring the subject up

– But soft! Methinks I scent the morning air
he glared
suddenly flapping his arms like a bird
not so much scary as completely absurd
:: What’s with all this bullshit lingo?
What are we playing? Hamlet bingo?
Can’t you just give me the whole thing straight?
I get up early and it’s really late

– Adieu, adieu, adieu! Remember me!
Jim…mmeeee!
My hour is almost come…!
:: You’re not the only one
Didn’t you have some kind of warning?
Or have you run out of time now it’s morning?
My father just glared and shook his head
and disappeared from the end of the bed

:: Rest, rest, perturbèd spirit
Thanks for the visit
I mean – I thought you might have a bit more to say
Given how long you’ve been away
But aside from all the haunting and such
I suppose we never did talk that much
Who needs a ghost, come from the grave
To tell us how better we could’ve behaved?