GARCIE POOPER’S SHOP

(an Australian short story)

Garcie Pooper’s shop was all glass and brass and soft round corners and gentle lighting. A dream shop, circa 1920, with a sign to match in gilded cursive:

C. C. Cooper and Son. Watchmakers.

But there was responsibility and obligation in that sign as Garcie well knew, for Garcie was ‘Son’ and so he took it like a man even though it was his dream to fly aeroplanes.

Garcie Pooper’s shop-front was all plate glass and bevelled edges and thick brass trims and fleur-de-lys etching and not once in fifty years had a brick been hurled through its surface; and Garcie was proud of this and said that it was because, he believed, most people, in their heart of hearts, always cherished a thing of beauty and so for this reason he kept it meticulously clean.But there was a hiccup in his cleaning schedule and it came in the form of a local man who, having acquired a taste for the drink (if one would be so kind as to put it that way), took it upon himself, albeit without permission, to wash Garcie’s shop-front for the price of a few shots of whisky. So come Tuesday mornings Garcie’s shop-front was swabbed carelessly with ashen, soapy water and a greasy, grey cloth leaving its surfaces milky and murky and streaked. But Garcie didn’t mind for he said a taste for strong drink indicated dreams that had been broken and Garcie understood dreams, for it was his dream to fly aeroplanes.

Garcie Pooper’s display shelves were all glitter and promise and visions of plenty and sat sheltered behind sliding glass doors with ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ locks (for in understanding dreams Garcie also understood temptation and so he respected it); and they held every manner of things imaginable, not just watches. Because of this Garcie Pooper’s shop was known throughout the neighbourhood to ‘cater to the public’. But to be honest, in the sales representative field, Garcie was seen as a ‘soft touch’ for Garcie held that everyone deserved a fair chance and so  he bought one of each new line; and sometimes this was a blessing and sometimes disaster.

Ah me, how well I remember the plastic, cheery-faced leprechaun who decanted whisky from the open fly of his pants. Disaster. Or the ‘Come and Get It’ drinks tray which, at the touch of a button, lowered a shot-glass tray in front of a female torso whose tits popped out at precisely the same moment (Garcie of course referred to them as uncovered breasts). Unmitigated disaster! Yet worse than this, Garcie insisted upon flaunting these items in the shop-front window so that the sales representative wouldn’t be insulted next time he called but then, in deference to his sense of modesty, he also insisted that they be exhibited fully clad, as he called it, and so he veiled their offending body parts in soft, pink tissue paper before offering them up for display. By a stroke of good fortune however these items never sold, for to this day I shudder at the thought of Garcie having to demonstrate their aptitude as that, most certainly, would have triggered one of Garcie’s migraines.

Yes. Garcie suffered migraines: blinders. And he said that it was because of all the finely detailed work involved in watch mending, which made me think that he’d have been overjoyed at the introduction of digital watches, but not so, for when the first defective computer watch graced his shop, forcing him to turn its owner away woefully disappointed, Garcie took me aside and whispered: “Heed my words, Mishy, this computer watch phase is nothing more than a fad. Believe you me, it’ll all be forgotten once people realise that a good Swiss watch and a calendar will never let them down!” Yes, he said he got migraines from too much watch repairing but I knew better, for I knew it was because it was his dream to fly aeroplanes.

And his migraines visited weekly, Fridays mostly which ruined his weekend all together, but sometimes they’d arrive mid-week and at these times, if his wife couldn’t come to take him home that is, I’d find him sitting quietly in the minuscule courtyard at the back of his shop, grinding sweet biscuits to feed to the sugar ants; and he’d grind these biscuits ever so fine so as not to overburden the spines of the delicate insects. He loved those ants! And me, well I figured it was because he marvelled at their ability to carry on, day after day, with the same old routine and never, ever get a migraine. Yes, me, I figured he was trying to guess their secret.

And in his own way he kind of liked getting the migraines midweek for it left his weekends free to head, Saturdays, out Bankstown airport way where he’d sit for hours watching the planes land and then take off again; and land once more and take off yet again. Yes, they were Garcie’s dream weekends and they settled his thoughts and nourished his spirit and gave him courage to take on the world again.

Garcie Pooper’s heart was all gentleness and love and unfathomable kindness. Indeed I am yet to meet a more genuinely compassionate man and though sadly, for him, flying aeroplanes remained only a dream he taught me that in order to fly I must never let the world sprinkle salt upon my wings. For you see Garcie Pooper believed in me and because of this, without knowing it, he set my wings on a course to the stars.

Fly on, fly high Garcie Pooper. 

(mish 1999)

NAMING

Within days of her birth your daughter’s first name will be shortened for the ease of those who may never really know her.

Her second name will be reduced to its first letter and a brutal full stop like those found typed on formal documents and threatening office memos.

Her third name will be forgotten from lack of use and left to drift for eternity in limbo with a million misplaced souls.

Her family name will be changed for that of a man to whom she promises forever but when eventually she realizes ‘forevers’ never last she will leave him (or he’ll leave her) yet she’ll cling tightly to his name, because no-one can remember just who she used to be.

What I am saying is: do not take naming lightly
What I am saying is: given the chance, names can be potent
What I am saying is: gift your daughter names that she may seize her power
With names of valor
With names of spirit
With names to vanguard revolutions that she may rage her path like a volatile storm


Gift her goddess names
Or glory names of long past warrior queens

Name her ‘Unequaled’
Name her ‘Carnal’
Name her ‘Fearless in the face of overwhelming odds’
Name her ‘Mighty’
Name her ‘Only’
So she’ll know that, single handed, she’s enough to change the world

…Name her Beloved…

 (mish 2017)

AS THOUGH HEARTS NEVER SHATTERED

Sometimes their laughter was like the banks of a river breaking unconstrained and wild

Then sometimes like a fountain between deserts…

Sometimes they danced demented like the drugged skeletons of love’s possibilities

Then lacquered their memories

As though delight was all that mattered

As though the dawn had been delayed

And the years were not waiting

And hearts never shattered

And dreams were not threatened by everyday lies

(mish 2020)

A LIGHTHOUSE ON FIRE

Held fast by the pull of your planet

You the ripened fig, the miracle, the bread

The sweet water

The shoreline of my dreams

You with a heart clenched in sadness

And a truth that pierces like a gunshot at midnight

And a smile that is the melting of all that I am and all that I will

The tenderness of your touch

My lighthouse on fire

You my unwavering bastion of love…

How beautiful,

How beautiful that you stayed

(mish 2021)

Original artwork by mish …mixed media on paper…quote by Rumi….

WE ARE THE LUCKY ONES

There are too many tomorrows to miss you

There are too many moments to lose to memory

There are far too many instants to be vanished into ether

But there is now

And your laughter

And your scent

And your sorrow

And your pain, a constant confidante

And your forgiveness swathed in ‘never mind’

And there’s dancing till we vanish into moonlight

And there’s magic

We are the lucky ones

(mish 2018)

‘LUNA. Original artwork by mish…acrylic and soft pastels on paper…

THE REBIRTH OF MUSIC

A 1 act 2-scene play

The lamp on the bridge looked older than the bridge itself. The people of the town referred to the bridge, proudly, as the Roman Bridge, impressive and ancient. To the children, however, it was the ‘Roamin’ Bridge: a prehistoric haunted thing that wandered during the wee small hours, returning every magic time with a telling souvenir.

This was how the lamp had appeared, they said, suddenly and weather-worn; a spot light from a theatre past now beaming its enchanted orb across the cobbled span.

Enter the limping woman into the circled skirt of light.

She moves slowly toward its periphery. She rests her elbows onto the railings of the bridge and begins to sob quietly and to swallow soundlessly, as though she is afraid of awakening the moon; bits of her dropping, dropping, hitting the ground like glass beads, unstrung and reckless and splintering like a rosary of disregarded prayers.

The stiletto heel of one of her shoes had snapped off earlier that evening. (A delicate ankle’s noble error!) Removing it from her bag she places it tenderly onto the stone balustrade, steadying it so that its shadow in the lamplight becomes that of a pensive bird anticipating flight.

A passing stray dog stunned by lamplight, attracted by warmth, settles itself at the feet of the woman (one-shoe-on, one-shoe-off) arranging itself comfortably with its chin on its paws and eyes, droopy-lidded, staring straight ahead, so that all three (the woman, the shoe-heel-bird, the dog) are gazing with fused understanding into a yearned for distance.

The whole scene is desperately sad as though all three are witnessing a score of abandoned music floating weightless on a breeze; each priceless page drifting further and further away from each other priceless page, drifting further and further away from them. A fragmented musical dream floating like confetti above the watery face of a sleeping moon and into an unknown void. As though all three (the woman, the shoe-heel-bird, the dog) are powerless

End Act 1, Scene 1

Pan to me, the play’s secret spectator sitting tired as a ghost awaiting the rebirth of music

Act 1 Scene 2

THE REBIRTH OF MUSIC

It has rained, light and prolonged, covering the cobbled village in a polished satin camouflage; buffed and comfortable like a worn grey suit. From an upstairs window two furtive eyes puncture the darkness like iced daggers, assessing the blackened streets, then, content at the gloom, looking away, returning to a friendless bed and broken restless dreams.

From a darkened alleyway below a stranger emerges, carrying with him an elongated suitcase and a leather-bound book with all its pages missing save three: the book’s handwritten dedication (illegible), a moving account of kindness (improbable) and a final and inconclusive sentence ‘…and the memory of you…’ (flawless).

He grips his treasures tight and pads his gentle way fused to shadows, his bandit footsteps guarded, his breath a tender trembling.

Meanwhile the watery moon floats bleary eyed and tranquil as a lily, and time continues the slow march of happenstance.

Meanwhile the bridge’s peculiar trio (the woman, the shoe-heel bird, the dog) fixes its gaze toward kismet withdrawing.

Secure in night’s shelter, the man begins to whistle a floating melody.

Suddenly the woman blinks nervously.

The shoe-heel-bird quivers.

The dog pricks up its ears.

Footsteps approach…heartbeats flutter: A trio breathless and a man bewitched by the moving scene before him crossing the veiled threshold into the lamplight.

With unruffled elegance, he places the suitcase and the book (open at its third and last page) onto the bridge’s railing.

The woman shivers.

The shoe-heel-bird teeters.

The dog growls.

The man does not falter….

With theatrical flair he snaps the locks open (Tick! Tick!) and removes from the case his cherished violin. He taps a fitting rhythm. He plucks the tightened string.

He pauses, momentarily, and then begins to play.

The atmosphere electrifies.

The scene is Chagall and his Satyrs and abandonment and joy.

The woman is dance: barefoot and wild.

The shoe-heel-bird leaps into the night carrying a tune like an olive branch.

The dog begins to serenade the moon.

And somewhere in a galaxy far away a memory is scrawled across the heavens.

The theatre is hushed.

The curtain closes slowly on a lamp-lit silhouette and on hearts inflamed and on the future’s insistence on mystery.

THE END

(mish 2019)

original artwork by mish…mixed media on stretched canvas….

THE BEAUTY OF THEM

Their beauty was, that despite all that had happened, there was no lie in them.

It was a quality that gave them a buoyancy

A glow

Like moons escaping from a hushed sea

Like laughing rain

For them a moment was a moment

Without need of assessment

Without need of forecast

Somehow the air surrounding them seemed fresh born

I wanted to fill my lungs with it

And never speak again

From a distant broken hut a lantern smiled its warmth

I lay my head on my hidden pillow and watched them walk by

Gently

Softly

In the direction of the light

The gods aching for the secret of their truth

Began garlanding the heavens in anticipation

(mish 2019)

original artwork by mish….mixed media on paper…

HOW DO I LOVE ME

How do I love me?

Let me count the ways…

I love me like a monsoon of raindrops

Like a winter of snowflakes

Like a gale of summer blossoms

Like the tears of a thousand hearts

Like the pain of a thousand wars

Like choirs of children’s laughter

Like the scent of oceans

Like still desert nights

Like ineffable beauty resounding

Like the incomprehensible measure of stars

I love me in the way that breath splits itself into galaxies of dreams that wash me clean

I love me in the endless ruins of anguish that I’m unable to explain

I love me like a celestial storm

I love me dismantled

A mess of blood and salt on heartless marble floors

(mish 2019)

‘MAE’…original painting by mish… acrylic on raw canvas…

MY HERO IS

The one who dares follow me down dark alleyways

That allows my secrets

That does not question motive

That hears beguiling melody in the shredding shriek of rain

And gets drunk on the dusky, fragrant water of the night

The one whose hands cradle sunsets and caress the fragile dawn

And stitch shrouds with blood stained needles

And with tears

The one who continues to continue

The one who refuses to kneel on the hemorrhaging cobblestones of hypocrisy

And whose tender spirit, trampled, still nurtures with throb and with spasm The one with martyred hearts buried silent in the memory of his blood

The one who advances bravely

Unprepared and without a lamp as guide

Into a wounded future

Insatiable like hunger

And unrestrained

like love

(mish 2021)

…’ARIEL’ original artwork by mish…mixed media on paper

REMEMBERING

Memories

Yellowing at the edges

Parched as deserts

Their ink bleached and frayed

Taking up swathes of precious time-space

Space that they never really merited

Impersonating realities

Entertaining fools

(and fooling none)

Memories

That sound like finger nails scraping down blackboards

That sting like the pain of removing sutures that have embedded themselves in the scalp

Repellent

Bleeding

Prone to infection

And yet constantly revisited on waves of nostalgia for what is dead

And dead again

And again

Killing god was easier than this

This tantalizing, cerebral self-harm

(mish 2021)

original artwork by mish 2021 mixed media on paper