MERRY CHRISTMAS MAZZY!

a poem by Conrad Kruger van den Bergh, South Africa - poetry writer, author, poet

Her Christmas tree looks terrible
it’s tiny
about ten inches high
a small little green plastic withered flash
plonked dead centre on her coffee table
right in front of the telly
but I can still see the whole of the screen right through it
now being filled by Cliff Richard’s plastic face
when is this guy going to die anyway?
he’s been making a fortune out of South Africans
for more than half a century
he’s been around longer than me
and he looks much younger
how the hell is that possible?
if he carries on like this
he’s going to outlive me
and a whole new generation of South Africans
and when is somebody going to write him
new Christmas songs?
he’s always singing about the snow
and snowflakes
and a White Christmas
but down here
it’s freakin’ hot
is sweltering
we’re all burning to a crisp
in the worst summer drought
since written records began

anyway
I think it’s supposed to be a miniature pine tree
but it looks more like an alcoholic bonsai
waning in a haze of drunken dancing red sparks
that’s glittering macabrely off a glum blinker streamer
winding all around the artificial pine needles
she even went and hung
five dirty miserable teeny weeny tiny little silver balls
off the crooked wire branches
looking like they’re ready to fall
I think they’re supposed to be fake snowballs
“When are you going to get a new Christmas tree?” I ask her
how is it possible for Cliff Richard to still jump around on the stage like that?
I mean I sit on a chair when I do my shows
and one and a half hour later
I’m wasted
this guy is seventy plus
and he’s still jumping around for hours

I can hear her fiddling around in her kitchen behind me
she’s not the best cook
actually I think
my death will come quick and hard because of her cooking
I hope she’s not planning on feeding me anything today
last year she made me peanut butter biscuits
and they tasted like burnt asphalt
I had to sit there and eat a whole plate of the stuff
under her auspices
and touch wood
I walked around with intestinal cramps for two days flat
it was only the clean gin that saved me
and got me ready in time for Christmas cheer

I turn my head slightly
still keeping my eye on Cliff Richard jumping around on the stage
just to make sure he’s not going to keel over
and die of a heart attack
“I mean, you’ve had this little tree for like what? Ten years?” I ask again
if I recall correctly
she scored it out of a dumpster
way back in two thousand and seven
and then it looked bad
now it's just wretched

I was planning on giving her a Christmas card today
before we go out for the evening
down to the tavern
but I wrote too much in it
and chucked it away
and started writing a whole new thing
on a clean sheet of paper
and then the whole thing became more or less
one long pointless letter
but I stuck to it
and wrote everything down
which I felt I needed to say to her
just to get it off my chest
I finished it
folded it neatly
slipped it into my coat pocket
with the idea of handing it over to her
just before we leave
and it more or less
goes like this:

“…Dear Mazzy
I’m writing this letter because the Christmas card got to small
and there are a lot things I have to say
so I wrote it all down
which makes living just easier
please read this letter to the end
don’t wait until I’m dead to finish it
I know it sucks to read it all
but just read it will you
I just wanted to say
although I irritate you most days
and though you irritate me most days
you have known me long enough
to know that I care
and I know you care too
(you still owe me fifty bucks by the way)
and after you read all of this
you’re probably going to crap all over my head
despite the fact that you’ve raided my fridge for fifteen years
for beer
and despite the fact
that you’re now raiding my cupboards
for two years straight
for my gin
(your red bra is still in my shower by the way)
you mostly keep me on the straight and narrow
which I appreciate a lot
I know I promised the whole wide world
especially my parents
that I’m now officially house bound
land bound
and one hundred percent domesticated
sign, stamped and sealed as part of civilized humanity
but you more than anybody else know
that I still got a lot of that wild side inside of me
thank you for understanding and living with it all
also, when are you going to buy your own packets of smokes?
I haven’t seen you buy any in years
and when are you going to get
your own soap
toothpaste
washing powder
coffee
sugar
milk
gin
or food
and whatever
because you’re raiding my cupboards three times a day now
you practically live off me
not that it’s killing me
but just because it’s happening all the time
also
you’re the only woman who I believe
makes a point of trying to see me naked
as much as possible
is this right?
are you some kind of weird pervert or something?
you can tell me straight up
I don’t mind
I mean for probably fifteen years straight now
you’ve been keeping track
of how far my ass had dropped
because you’re always walking into my apartment
just when I’m in the shower
standing there and dripping and soaked in soap
and then you say stupid things such as
“Are you in the shower?”
of course I’m in the shower
and then you’ll look at me again
and say
“You better start going to Eddie’s gym. Your ass is dropping.”
but I’m not going to do that
I tried Eddie’s gym once before
on a free voucher
and it turn out real bad for me
I nearly died
and another thing is
sometimes I’ll sit there on the sofa
watching the TV
minding my own business
at peace with the world
and everything
and everybody
who either roams or lives on it
and you'll walk into my apartment
again
look at me
and say stupid things such as
“Are you at home?”
I am at home
that’s why I’m there
in front of the telly
but anyway
despite all of this
I just wanted to say
thank you for being my friend
(are we more than friends, or not?
please let me know)
thank you for living though
all the crap that comes my way
and all the crap that I send out into the world
you’re a great lady
and you’re probably my best friend
(is my ass really dropping?)
actually I can’t see myself getting by most days
without you floating around somewhere
I know you got loads of hassles of your own
and I know sometimes they burden you down
as far down as you can go
but I’d like to think I’m not one of those
this year sucked
like all the years before
next year is bound to be worse
but it was and still is great
having you as my friend
I hope you have a great Christmas
try not to get too drunk tonight
because I’ll be probably be wasted myself
and I won’t be able to carry you home
thank you Mazzy
for everything
thank you for sticking it out
with me
Merry Christmas!”

Cliff Richard is not dead yet
he’s still jumping around
and just started another song
about a White Christmas
“There’s nothing wrong with that Christmas tree,” she says from the kitchen
“I like it. It fits nicely on my table and it’s easy to store, and I got it for free.”
“What are you making anyway?” I ask her
still hearing her fiddling around in the kitchen somewhere
“I made you something!” comes her excited yell
“What?”
“I made you something to eat!”
“F*** no! What!” I knew it
she’s going to give me intestinal cramps for two days straight
“I made you a brandy tart!”
“What! F*** no, are you sure it’s a brandy tart?”
“Oh don’t be such whiner! You’ll love it!”
she slowly walks over from the kitchen
her blond curly hair floating in a million directions
and her loose hippy outfit
fluttering like fairy wings
with a colour scheme that looks like
splotches of purples that went wrong with reds
and a totally insane mix of yellows and greens
that should never have seen the light of day
and her favourite feathered earing
dangling from her one ear

she carries a small plate
with a brown blob on it
that looks like a chunk of deep fried
volcanic stone
“Here you go!” She says in a girlish voice
a voice I hear way too little from her lovely smile
and plonks the small plate on my lap
Cliff Richard is going to live
hopping around on a stage
singing about white Christmases
to people being scorched
in one of the worst heat waves ever
and I’m going to die
right here in front of him
suffocating on a chunk of masonry
“Merry Christmas Conrad!” she yells in my ear
then bends down
and swings her arms around my neck
“Merry Christmas Mazzy.” I mumble thought her arms
“Thank you for the lovely tart…”
“Go ahead and eat, I’m just going to finish up!”
she swings around and walks to her bedroom

and that was the sign
proclaiming
that
I
will
live
screw Cliff Richard
and without a moment of hesitation
I jump up from the sofa
take five good strides to her balcony
the small plate balancing in my hands
and the chunk of burned tart
wobbling on top of it
and with a slight right hand
take the tart
and chuck it
in a perfect pitch
right across the street
right onto the rooftop
of the building on the opposite side
then five good strides again
and I’m back
sitting on her sofa
like nothing ever happened
with the empty plate on my lap
and my jaws going up and down
faking a good meal
it was professional
smooth
suave
and a great move
one that lasted
less than three seconds

and in another few seconds later
while I’m faking chewing on stone
Mazzy walks in again
“So did you like it?”
“Damn! That was the best tart ever! You should open a store or something!”
“Really! It’s that good?”
“It’s great. It’s mellow, but still got what it needs to be something that’s there.”
“Really?”
“Right.”
and the smile that I know comes difficult to her
appears again
“Thank you Mazzy, it was great,” and though I couldn’t eat it
she still made it for me
and that meant a lot to me
in some weird way
but I wasn’t prepared to die for it
“Oh, it was only my pleasure.” She says again. “I just wanted to thank you.”
“For what?” I ask her
“For sticking it out with me. I mean, we’ve know each other for so long, and I’m practically living off you most days, but it just because some days, I just don’t have the means.”
“It’s not a problem. Forget about it.”
“No really, thank you Conrad. Thank you for everything. Thanks for being around.” She bends down again
swings her arms around my neck again
but this time
she holds them there
longer
and tighter
“Shall we go? I’m ready!” She says and takes three steps back and turns to the front door
“Yeah, let’s go, everybody is down there already,” I say to her, and rise from the sofa again

I walk over to the telly
see Cliff Richard swaying from left to right on the stage
singing about snowflakes coming down
to an audience
that’s burning to a crisp
on the most southern tip of the African continent
and I bend down
and switch him off
he won’t mind
he’s a survivor

I turn and follow Mazzy
to her apartment door
I know I’ll probably have to carry her back home again tonight
but I don’t mind
and nearing the door
I lift my hand
and feel the flat surface
of the neatly folded letter in my coat pocket
I’ll leave it there
I won’t reach for it
not tonight
something just made me realise
that the whole idea was just wrong
I’ll hang on to it for another year
and see what comes around next year
and anyway
it’s going to be a great Christmas
because I won’t have intestinal craps
Cliff Richard will live
and Mazzy won’t mind
having me around
for another year…

Conrad Kruger van den Bergh (Copyright, 2017)


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