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This poem is taken from PN Review 232, Volume 43 Number 2, November - December 2016.

Two Poems Caroline Bird

My father was a hundred and five years old when he discovered the pleasures of Crystal Meth. At first I thought his gurning mouth and disjointed speech were symptoms of dementia. Imagine my relief when he slipped a baggie of white shards from the netted side-pocket of his Stannah Stair-lift. He called it by it’s street-name, Tina. As he lit the glass pipe, he reminisced about a repressed Blackpool girl with the same name he’d courted gingerly after the war. ‘Those days were clogged with woollen tights and shame,’ he said, his pupils exploding behind his spectacles; ‘Can you make me a website?’ ‘What?’ I said, thinking I’d misheard. ‘I want to advertise my wares,’ he said. ‘What wares?’ I said. ‘Bondage. Water Sports. Sado-
masochism. People will pay good money to lick the toilet-seat of a silver fox.’ When he smiled his face lit up like an electrocuted skull. ‘But you’re a hundred and five years old…’ I said. He sunk in his sweater like a dying man. ‘…Which is all the more reason,’ I added, ‘not to waste another minute. Of course I’ll make you a website. I’ll even take the photos for you.’ ‘Will you paint my spare room dark, dark red?’ he said. ‘I’ll buy the paint this afternoon,’ I said. ‘You’re such a loving daughter,’ he said, ‘I’ve never felt so alive.’

He called himself The Pounding Pensioner. He was extremely popular. Women and men of all ages came and went at all hours of the day and night. The neighbours complained about the ecstatic howls. The Meals on Wheels bloke refused to enter the house, opting instead to leave the cloche of turkey mush and cauliflower cheese on the porch step. My father didn’t mind. He didn’t eat any more anyway. Or sleep. He wore his BDSM get-up twenty-four-seven now: leather trousers, dog-collar, studded platform boots. The kitchen lino was lacerated with whiplashes. The last time I visited he was slow-dancing to trance music in the hallway with a young bodybuilder. They were both naked. ‘Dad,’ I shouted, ‘Dad! I’ve brought you The Radio Times and that John le Carré audio book you asked for!’ No response. Embracing, they resembled one mannequin sporting a creased shawl of skin. His hearing aid was curled up in the condom bowl like an elf’s liver. ‘Dad!’ It wasn’t in my power to interrupt or intervene. I watched for a minute then let myself out. He wasn’t coming down again. Not for anyone. He was with the angels now.

Star Vehicle

Can I shoot you entirely in standard definition digital video?
Can I shoot you right up in your gob like this?
Can I shoot you soot-faced and scandalised and laughing on the other
side of the street? Can I shoot you in my trailer with a pet monkey and a gun
resting on a green cloth? Can I shoot you with ketchup on your tights?
Can I shoot you hiccupping in the blood-rain?
Can I shoot you reaching for a metal doorknob?
Can I shoot you running without shoes?
Can I shoot you writhing on a lime and black carpet, screaming
‘Look at me!’? Can I shoot you fading in and out?
Can I shoot you suffocating inside a harp case?

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