The Rhinoceros Next Door

I mean really, what are they thinking? Their garden is tiny. I’m all for animal rights and rehoming strays, but a rhinoceros in suburban Oxford; that’s just not on!

Sometimes I think I’m going mad. I say this because no one else on my street seems to pay the slightest attention to the giant beast in their vicinity.  When the sun shines, my neighbours mill about on the road exchanging pleasantries, jars of plum jam, gossip etc, just as they always have. But no one ever mentions the rhinoceros. I’ve brought it up a few times but they just stare at me blankly as though I’ve spoken another language or were speaking out of turn. It makes me feel very uncomfortable so I’ve given up asking. There remains, of course, something unspoken in the air!

Bob and Joan, in whose garden the beast dwells, say hello to me every morning over the garden fence. And every morning there it is, right behind them. I wonder, do they not see my wild eyes flickering with confusion as the beast sways on its giant legs and snorts as it munches breakfast? How can they ignore its heavy breathing and occasional flatulence, passing off the whiff as just an unlucky farmyard breeze? And what about the truck loads of fodder arriving each day?

I mean, it would be fine if the rhinoceros had something to say: a point of view or a joke, even. God knows, I’ve tried to strike up conversation countless times. But it behaves as if it were from the jungle or the plain. Mostly it completely ignores my presence, even when I’ve been so kind as to offer it a mid morning coffee or an early evening beer (quite rude really). However, this morning there was something worse than being ignored.

I popped out to put the washing on the line and saw the rhinoceros rubbing its flank against my neighbours garage. I called out a hello and its ears twitched. I thought it might grace me with a chat. However, it did not. Instead it positioned its rump in my direction, lifted its tail, muttered something under its breath and then farted the fart of a two ton ruminator, which if you’ve not had the pleasure, is like the worst, moist hairdryer with a bowl of yesterdays sodden muesli thrown in to the mix. I would say that I was aghast but actually I was thickly coated. I felt like a fish-finger dipped in chocolate and showered in nuts. Only my two frightened eyes blinked naked of the foul and outrageous ejector. And so peppered, I felt an urge for sweet cleanliness that only a man thus dipped can know. I slid and dripped my sorry way to the bathroom, a shameful trail upon the kitchen floor.

Later on, when I’d cleaned up (in body if not in mind), I retaliated with a volley of insults thrown over the fence. But the beast is thick skinned indeed and swished me away, dismissing me with its tail.

I’m going to call the council. I really am. I mean, I’ve heard and used the elephant in the room metaphor many times, but a rhinoceros in the back garden is quite another thing.

© Ben Truesdale and distilledvoice, 2015

A Wandering Poet

Today I fancied the life of a wandering bard and poet. And so with a spring in my step and the birds tweeting in the joyous air I selected my favourite knapsack, packed it with green cheese and a hunk or two of bread, some fine olives and a red apple, and slung it on a pole.

With provisions aplenty I went out the door, not forgetting my poets peaked cap, complete with a feather for inspiration. And of course I wore my best bard-ish jerkin, to keep me warm around the midriff and hopeful in mind. I went not empty handed: a book of plain pages clasped in my fingers, my quill expectant and quivering.

I strolled a good league before I met a (would be) patron in the village of Cowley. He leant nonchalant against a wall with fermentation thick about his person, a beverage loose in his hand. He smoked a Woodbine and had rummy eyes to see the world around. I thought him decent enough for a try of the rhythm in my mind. And so I said to him:

“Good sir, toss me a ducat and I shall sing a merry tune or write a rhyme in this book here, that once done will be yours for the keeping.”

And to this he said: “fuck off.”

“Good sir,” I said, “which ditch have you dug for those words that come tumbling, for I should have them for my book.”

And he said: “fuck off you twat.”

And I smiled and said:  “you sir, are a wit. I know it. You play with me as if I were a child. At first I thought those words were dirt, but you use them so well. They fall off your lip like watery cascade. They flow as nature’s voice in wind and breeze alike. Pray do tell me some more.”

And to this he said (you’ve guessed it): “Fuck off.”

And so with a salute and a smile I went on my merry way.

© Ben Truesdale and distilledvoice, 2015

Sunset

Sun skinned
Boys
Delight
In the day’s final hour,
Frolicking on the jetty
And blue beside,
Wrestling each other,
Daring, jumping in and out,
Diving from the rocks,
Shouting language
From their boisterous mouths:
Dipping their matte skin
In Mediterranean
And coming out
Anointed in the gold
Of liquid
Painted by
By the sun’s
Last moment.

© Ben Truesdale and distilledvoice, 2015