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Deathbed Burlesque

The rear of the bus was round and blimpy like a colorful inverted U.
Its body was shaped like a caterpillar on wheels; each wheel was a chocolate
digestive biscuit and inside the bus were rooms, thumbnails of his life,
moving compartments where actors and actresses cavorted and swung on trapezes
like a vaudeville theatre full of surprises and happenings.  Here was Uncle George,
there Aunt Ethel, Mr. and Mrs. Fotheringham, his own three children, doctor dentist
and bank manager and over them all, across the squares the Letters, the Words,
headlines made of smoke rings drifting across the cubicles like neon signs squeezed
from giant toothpaste tubes.


The inside of the bus had porthole windows brocaded with rainbow snakes spread out
like confetti rolls of every hue, they changed color and style of gyration according
to the costumes of the participants, at times playful like carousel ballerinas but
sometimes sad like slow turning Ferris wheels platformed and rickety with loose
floorboard planks turning slowly in crescendos and diminuendos of slow motions. The
children in the bucket seats were overfed and bloated, they cried crocodile tears to
the accompaniment of a waltz-making concertina.


It was quite funny really, funny but sad, he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry
as his life wriggled backwards towards an underwater circular glass window shaped
like a woman pulling a face, fingers tugging lips apart to make a mouth, a cave, a tunnel
of a throat, calm sweet milk-like waters and beyond that wriggling fields of hydroponic
crocuses or mushrooms shaped like question marks waving in the tunnel, hello goodbye,
hello goodbye as the waters lapped against the shores of an underground sea, warm
comfortable and endless

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© Johnmichael Simon



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