Tag Archives: Roland Leach

Age Takes a Socialist

 

By Roland Leach

 

I thought every family had one, but kids at school never mentioned a socialist aunt and uncle. Ours drove a Holden FJ, the people’s car, went to city meetings and gave out yellowing pamphlets. When they grew older they went through a phase where they talked constantly of their preferred deaths.

They refused to reach seventy, wanted a quiet bed-death, though they had never been quiet all their lives, an aneurysm or heart attack might do, but there would be no nursing home, never that dilution. Their lives had been a fight against institutions. Euthanasia became an obsession.

They spoke of Death as a greedy capitalist with a monopoly in the futures market, and they were at the battlements again, proclaiming their rights, their ownership of death.

Then it passed, some small shift in the brain, and getting up and having a cup of tea was enough, it was one-thing-at-a-time; the revolution subsided.

My uncle would have shouted and raved at this diminished self, this broken man who was not him, had he a mind to think it through. His death by dementia orchestrated by secret cabals. Aunt lived on for years in a nursing home, watching TV game shows with a boyfriend.

 

Roland Leach has three collections of poetry, the latest, My Father’s Pigs, published by Picaro Press. He is the proprietor of Sunline Press, which has published eighteen collections of poetry by Australian poets. His latest venture is Cuttlefish, a new magazine that includes art, poetry, flash fiction and short fiction.

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Spelling

 

By Roland Leach

 

Dear Mr Maroney, you probably don’t remember me, unless through my absences. At a recent reunion we decided to form a group to talk out our schooldays. Teachers that were a distinct influence. Marked our way through life.

Your name came up first – quite vehemently in fact – especially when we recalled how you lined us around the wall for spelling. A bit like being on the other side of the firing squad. You using words like bullets. Answers quick and unfaltering, or else to the back of the line. At the end of the lesson the last five boys were strapped. Laurie O’Neill – the red head you called Blue – still can’t line up in queues unless there are five people behind him. He’s had a life of being abused or shoved to the back. Mick Taylor never had a stuttering problem till he couldn’t get out sustenance right before the bell. The perfect student who got strapped. You told him it would keep him on his toes. Den Rand hates his kids asking him how to spell a word. You kept the strap on the desk or sometimes in your back pocket. It looked like a small black tail and with your wrinkled face gave us one of your nicknames, monkey Maroney. Chris Hill still has an unnatural aversion to the lesser apes and some of the smaller tailed primates. But it was the threat of your special strap, Jumbo, you called it, speaking affectionately of it as if it was your cat or dog. The way you soaked it in oil once a month to give it flex or polished it with boot polish to keep its shine. It was hidden in a back cupboard that you kept locked. We could only remember you using it once (on Phil Ray – typical) but the fear of it kept us wary. Sam Locke had to sit next to it at the back of the room. We were seated from one at the front to forty-eight at the back dependent on our tests. His analyst attributes most of his neuroses to the palpable presence of Jumbo – alive and breathing, oiled like a body-builder in the darkness of the cupboard. You took most of our meeting, you and your spelling line and the oiled Jumbo. Steve Gatt reminded us how you would trick us into learning our lists by asking the compound word in the list or the word that rhymes with. He said you had little effect on him and had come along for the alcohol but he did say that he remembers you when he hears the compound-word that double-rhymes with pass and role.

 

Roland Leach has three collections of poetry, the latest My Father’s Pigs published by Picaro Press. He is proprietor of Sunline Press, which has published eighteen collections of poetry by Australian poets, and his most recent venture is an art and literary magazine called Cuttlefish.

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Number 7

 

by Roland Leach

 

He lived alone in Number 7, his wife well gone. He slept in the afternoons, woke in the middle of the night and went to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and smoke a cigarette. He only smoked one a day and looked forward to it.

Number 7 was the worst house in the street.

He often sat in a plastic chair on the front porch and watched the kids coming home from school. He rode a green scooter, a lime-green scooter, the type that has trouble getting up steep hills.

Sometimes he played old cassettes and cried. When it became too much he went into the garden and pruned the plumbago into a perfect sphere. Pruned the hedge into a triangle.

They used to picnic on the lawn. On hot nights they spread a blanket and ate chicken and drank red wine.

The body and blood. Amen.

 

Roland Leach has three collections of poetry, the latest, My Father’s Pigs, published by Picaro Press. He is a past winner of the Newcastle Poetry Prize and Josephine Ulrick Prize and the recipient of an Australia Council Grant to write poetry in the Galapagos Islands. He is currently the Poetry Editor at University of Western Australia for Westerly and is proprietor of Sunline Press, which has published eighteen collections of poetry by Australian poets. Most of his time, however, is taken up as a teacher of Literature.

 

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