Andy Jackson lives in Melbourne, Australia, and writes poetry exploring the body, identity and marginality. He has been published in a wide variety of print and on-line journals; received grants from the Australia Council and Arts Victoria, and a mentorship from the Australian Society of Authors; and featured at events and festivals such as Australian Poetry Festival, Queensland Poetry Festival, Newcastle Young Writers Festival and Overload Poetry Festival. Most recently, he was awarded the Rosemary Dobson Prize for Poetry, and is currently a Café Poet in Residence for the Australian Poetry Centre. His most recent collection of poems, Among the Regulars, is scheduled for release by papertiger media later in 2009.
Why do you smother your soul in that fist still?
This wound will open and heal itself – just sit still.
Sheer will’s not enough. Floating past like dropped pollen –
all these tree-borne thoughts your intellect has missed, still.
The country doesn’t care for you, the earth craves your bones.
All your machines will only make you an atavist. Still,
who are you but your tics and eruptions, your prosthetics
and open holes? A flower is much more than its pistil.
Sand is not ground but a crowd. The ocean knows this.
However bitter the wind, the shore must still be kissed.
Press your thumb into these bruises, your forehead
to the earth, and face the unbreakable tryst. Still
water? A trick your mind plays, persuasive as a mother
tongue or god. Beyond the city’s grid, thick mist still
waits in the deep valley for your water-logged body.
Dream of becoming bread, oh grain – you are grist, still.
Not the smoke or the wick or the shadow on the wall,
moth, but the flame, which cannot exist if still.
Since the door was locked, I’ve learnt so much.
A face can feel the sun yet forget what it’s for.
Bars obscure the world, shrink the room
to stand up, take a few steps. Legs buckle
under the weight of a body with no soul.
At intervals I’m fed, given medication. The walls
absorb the smell of those who arrived and left.
Only the press release escapes.
I have no desire to lash out. The voices are calm
and impersonal – the risk to the public
still not low enough. These wings
are withered and pecked to the bone
and see the future, like the sky, is an open
lie. Everything is a weapon.
Refusing food, speechless, I speak
the only dialect left. Outside are people
who say they wouldn’t treat an animal like this,
their faces averted like statues, ideal humans.
My life depends on us becoming something else.
My instinct’s to curse myself –
the shore is a wall of fire, my city sings
its people into fuel, the rotten pillars
of the jetty creak their warnings, while
this boat of bones tugs at its moorings.
Yet each rope I approach with the knife
has become a throat my heart can’t cut.
Instead, alone, at night I pace the hull
and scrutinise each knot – these twisted
lines, old stories which hold me here,
a half-brave face raised, my fear
the sea could be a mirage.