Andy Jackson’s collection, Among the Regulars (papertiger media, 2010) was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize and Highly Commended in the Anne Elder Award. His poems have recently appeared in Best Australian Poems 2012 and 2013, Medical Journal of Australia, Wordgathering and Mascara Literary Review. In 2009, he and performer Rachael Guy won the Most Innovative Work award at the Overload Poetry Festival for their poetry-puppetry collaboration Ambiguous Mirrors. He has performed at literary events and arts festivals in Australia, India, USA and Ireland. Andy’s poetry has been featured in interviews, exhibitions and broadcasts on Radio Australia, 3CR, 3RRR-FM, Radio National’s Poetica, and the Melbourne Museum. He blogs about identity, embodiment and other hard-to-pin-down things at amongtheregulars.wordpress.com

A certain type of poem

A beautifully arranged room with no windows or doors.

A hand-written invitation to a cancelled celebration.

A cramped tram with broken handstraps.

The immaculate walls of an abattoir.

A life-support system, humming after the body is taken away.

Damp firewood, mid-winter.

The output of speech synthesis software.

A book, consisting entirely of its bibliography.

A sensible investment.

The gloves you left behind at the scene.

A closed window

You wake to a doctor, sitting where your leg would be.
How brave, they say, as if a body is to be endured.
Through a closed window – a wind-tossed tree.

You wanted to be normal, not to be reassured.
What is lost? An empty room soon fills with echoes.
How brave, they say. As if a body is to be endured,

you keep score, sitting in the stands. Who knows
what a nine-child home swallows with its noise?
What is lost? An empty room soon fills with echoes –

two girls, one lost at birth, and six growing boys.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be sung.
What a nine-child home swallows with its noise

is no more bitter than the taste of your own tongue.
Is a wood and plastic limb a tender, living thing?
There’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be sung.

They come at night – mask, needle, saw – calling…
You wake to no doctor. Sitting where your leg would be
is a wood and plastic limb. A tender, living thing

through a closed window – a wind-tossed tree.

Forensics Museum
Siriraj Hospital, Bangkok

Behind glass are the bodies we are becoming.
Poorly preserved, shrinking inside
ourselves with every gaze. A family

wanders the labyrinth of cabinets.
The youngest and I look
at each other, curious, an incongruous

smile between us. Some of the screws
that fix the signs are rusting. Soft pink walls
close in. Unidentified male,

beheaded in a car accident. Rape murderer
with death sentence. Victims of
gunshot, axe, explosions, their own hand.

A smoker’s lungs, greyish blooms
only our innards recognise. The floor
groans as I turn and move towards the dark

corner of the museum. My skull
is bisected, opened,
a book in a language no-one will speak.

The river has burst its banks.
Outside, nurses stride calmly through puddles.
Sandbags cover the mouths of shops like hands.

Quasimodo

I am twelve when they tease you into me, name-first.
With your fist around my spine as I try to grow up
into my own upright self, I am quiet, think you small,
like you might climb out while I yawn or piss or sleep.

Your nest of collected sticks grows in this belfry chest.
Afraid and facing away, I blur mirrors with spit and hide
behind excuses to not take off my shirt at the beach.
The thin white frames of schoolgirls rise like lighthouses.

They call out my name in voices I have thrown.
No-one is saved. Through my eyes, the flickering
fires you fuel are signs. Men begin to close in,
waving their torches of word and fist. I fix a rope

to my mouth and lower myself down inside.
These bones enclose a flapping of echoes, what darkness
can’t silence. Tendrils reach for my legs, memories
begging to be fed. But at last I clutch your throat

and haul you out. Your face is white and wet,
your bottom lip trembling with the weight of our shape.
You smell of the filth and luck of cul-de-sacs, your home,
my flesh. My arms reach around your swollen bulk

before I can think or flinch. We are two halves
of a heart stitched together with myth. Over my shoulder
you stare out to where the sun re-enacts its death.
Against your hump, my soft skin sweats and breathes.

Bradford

on the solo album cover you
thought would be your last
bare-chested pectus excavatum
your halo burns a hole in the sky
so should we start now?

all finger quotes and verbal filler y’know
limbs folded up on the interview chair
skin and bone origami
I don’t know who I am I always
just wanted to be kind

your sixteenth summer invisible still
unconscious in ICU
one ice-chip an hour when you wake
everything makes sense
when you look at it from another way

your answers are angular too
medical things or physical condition
all those painkiller years
we forget how music saves us
it’s not some emo thing

sheer frequencies deep listening
teenagers write afraid and comforted
through reverb and delay
the boringness of hotel rooms
seventeen hour flights bad food

instability of everything
when we die we’ll bury ourselves
far away from a music festival as possible
the easiest way to fuck anything up –
start trying

***

My sincere thanks to Andy for sending me these amazing poems and allowing me to republish them on here.

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