Big Bridge #9

Poets of Australia


Andy Jackson

Mantra for the target market

Itís a task for tweezers and microscopes
scouring the footpaths for some crumb
of untainted nature, some unspun ideal,
as the billboards mount their case against me,
their many arms aim to twist my instincts.
I must contain in me an immense wealth,
there is so much they have already extracted,
gloved and confident in their brutal intrusions,
their theft a jealousy that wonít hear ďnoĒ,
and still the heart beats in me unreached
behind these vulnerable and awesome curtains.
This skin that can flinch at an intimate touch,
holds the span of the sun in its pores. Until
a bud from the pit of me shoots down and out,
Iím as dormant as any old molecule, but
the world is in me, a bruised and patient
god, beating on the ceiling of the tomb.

Youth group camp

The truck rattled over the dry paddock hills,
our spotlight eclipsed the huge dumb moon
and in the back all the boys gripped the bars
in a fever. God, where are we? Iím cold. The script
weíd absorbed convinced us we didnít need
to learn the languages of foxes and rabbits.
We scanned the shadows for movement,
eyes wide and dry like gun barrels.      A flash
of fur, and for the boy whoíd yell out a time
as an angle for the shooter a strange
honour would silently gather.       The guníd
crack an amen, and the truckíd lurch
toward the blood.     Whatís this crucifix doing
round my neck?
     I swear, that night I mustíve seen
five or six bolt across the beam in the hope of rocks
or burrows, but other voices called their bluff.
How far are we from home?      Which way is it?
The final sad tally was one grey feral cat,
proudly shot and dumped on the truck tray
that was our swaying floor.         Its open jaw
drooled a small red pool, and I   couldnít move,
just stared myself    out into the dark.        My
boy heart banged its head   against the bars,
a morse signal    the size of the shrinking heat
beneath the fur, beneath my own homeless skin.
God, please donít let it leap up to scratch at my ankles.
Back at the farm,    around the bonfire,       stories
were kneaded and    swelled to fit the shape
of a myth  that never existed and  still  grips
the world.        God, when will this be over?
Twenty years         of decomposition,
  and these stubborn jigsaw shapes,
           decaying bones      and stained pelt,
spread out  now    on my mindís   desk
            donít yet fit.

Andy Jackson started writing/reading publicly in the mid 90s. Since then he has been published in around twenty print and on-line journals. His latest book of poetry, Aperture, includes a CD containing musical/poetic collaborations. He has Marfan Syndrome (look it up), and co-owns Good Morning Captain, a cafe and arts venue in Collingwood, Melbourne. His email is

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