adieu, adieu, mon dieu

The ghost of my father came back again last night
(I know, right?
it’s all so contrived
I see more of him dead then I did when he was alive)

Anyway, I’ve stopped being freaked by his spooky mug
the more something happens the more you shrug

Sup, dad? I said
as he hovered heavily overhead
pretending to do the front crawl
against the opposite wall
(the irony escaping him
that in life he couldn’t swim
although maybe he was trying to ease the chills
and prove you can always earn new skills)

The thing that really gets me
is why he can’t forget me?
I mean – you’d think he’d relish the chance
to swerve my bullshit badinage
but no – it’s just like Hamlet’s father, right?
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night
and by the way, whilst he’s at it
criticise the work we had done in the attic

So he does what he always does eventually
which is settle on the bed and talk endlessly
which sounds quite nice as these things go
but he can lie in and I’ve got work tomorrow

It was hot & heady stuff
right enough
exactly the kind of secrets and regrets
that would stop anyone getting a good aeon’s rest
the casual betrayals and sordid affairs
you’d only admit to in Cosmo questionnaires
(then immediately re-work to change your score
and get a result that suited you more)

Did someone murder you, father? I cried out, on edge
Cos I don’t think I’m really cut out for revenge
What? No! he said. What are you, CRAZY?
It was just when your mum was a dinner lady
she had an affair with that Iranian student
who was good at table tennis and liked Ted Nugent

How d’you know all this? I said
She told me later on in bed
and whilst I was turned on for a while
in the end it started to cramp my style
so I took up with that woman from accounts
who said it would work but I had my doubts

He carried on in this way for an eternity
and made me question the benefits of paternity
until suddenly he was struck dumb
My hour is almost come,
he said
rising portentously from the bed
When I to sulph’rous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself – erm – James
Adieu, adieu, adieu! Remember me
– and bailed through the curtains clumsily

So right that second I went on the Net
to buy the best ghost insulation I could get
(a wool & wafer mix from the Holy See
fifty pounds a metre, plus VAT)

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?