‘Once’ by Joe Bunn

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Blue Moon (detail) linoprint by Karolyn Mnich. www.karolynmnich.co.uk;

Blue Moon (detail) linoprint by Karolyn Mnich. www.karolynmnich.co.uk

Once

I wake at eight
pem, minus the e,
pm, I sleep during the daytime
because I’m the one
who pulls down the night.
Like a blind
three times to get the hang
of the cord before darkness
falls with a bang
when my hand loses grip.
I twist for stars, holes in the slats,
check the world’s window sill
for dead wasps, bees
or gnats,
then back to work.
I am like the bloke
at the beginning of the
Birthday Party,
the film, not the celebration,
I man the night time
deck chair station,
laying out seats
on the rocky beach
each one white striped
with red, mint green and blue,
Setting up shop
before tying the moon
to a balloon filled with
just enough helium
to get it to that plum spot
in the sky, to sit proud
full moon beaming like a smile
praying to god as it floats up
that it doesn’t settle behind some clouds.
Then all I can do is wait
to see if my baby
is moonbathing
again.
My pale lady
She comes
once a month
on the full moon,
once i’ve set up the heavens for her,
true, she’s come once this month already
but tonight
the moon is blue.
She’s never first
always late,
after moustachioed men with telescopes
peeping themselves some space,
after lovers who want to grope
under greyish lunar hue
in a specially made deckchair that’s built for two,
after werewolves who also hire straps and buckles,
to protect the world from their hairy knuckles,
after picnickers, baskets filled with truckles
of moon cheese, after artists who squeeze out
whites, light yellows, aquamarines
to paint a portrait of the moonman within,
I serve them all, and count my take,
then I start to worry on my tea break
is my baby moonbathing
again?
But then,
after everyone else has bought a ticket,
she comes up
hair so dark you expect stars to fall from it
as she shakes her head, no
to some of my home made moonscreen
specially formulated to protect her
skin, porcelain, clair de lune,
from moonbeams.
She hardly says two words,
shy, with her eyes covered
by horn rimmed
sunglasses,
throwing shade,
dark and thick like molasses
so I can barely see where her hair stars
have sunk in them
just a faint twinkling.
Her voice tinkling a
‘thank you’
as She pays her dues
sticks her ticket in
black polka dot bikini
filled with the best two moons
I’d see this month,
and like a cartoon,
my jaw hits the floor as she walks away,
my baby’s moonbathing again.

She chooses her usual seat in the middle
looking a little like some naughty 1940s nudie snap
black and white and beautiful
and I put my attendant’s cap back on
to disguise the fact my eyes are looking
hold a book in front of me
pretend to read but really stare
right at her as she drapes a blanket
embroidered with a constellation –
Cygnus, I could be her swan,
mate for life, I’d be her Albatross,
her vulture, her coyote, her termite,
but those monogamous animals aren’t
laid out in formation the night sky,
I’d turn the tides and steal the moon for her
I’d shrink it down, put it in a tin,
chip off two bits
set them as earrings
to give her more gravitational pull,
than she already has,
unspool the equator so it’d always be full,
shining bright as her eyes,
I’d turn the tides,
end up drowning in my love
holding aloft one hand
like the end of the breakfast club,
clutching one earring,
but it’s more than my job’s worth

I used to have this theory about the moon
that said humans used to live there when the earth was new,
that cavemen came down in some lunar
prehistoric version of a spaceship
and I’d be her caveman
stone age, because the moon is just a stone
but she doesn’t see it as one,
not just a big rock
but clock’s ticking, moon’s setting
the end of my night duties
are nigh,
but She’s ready now
laid with one leg up,
delicate, bleached hand
lowering her sun specs
sexy swan like neck in negative
freckled with a solar system
where I want to live,
She looks up at the night sky
my relief guy arrives,
and as I end my shift
I hope against hope she notices
the few extra holes I poked
in the blind, the extra
constellation in the night sky
the words I spelled out for her.
As I finish my shift,
I hope against hope she notices,
as I walk over to where she’s lying
I don’t know what I’ll say then
my baby’s
moonbathing
again.
– Joe Bunn
Joe Bunn was the Bard of Northampton 2010/11 and the current Bard of Worthing (self proclaimed). He also attempts performance art, stand up comedy and music, and can be described as multi talentless. He is Jim Jones with the Merry Pranksters’ Kool-Aid. So drink deep.

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