SpeedPoets Feature Poem #2 – Jessika Tong

SpeedPoets kicks off its ninth year of readings today at InSpire Gallery Bar (71 Vulture St. West End) and my gut is telling me it is going to be a big one.

To continue the weekly posting of poems from SpeedPoets Zines past, present & future, this week’s poem is Moscow by Jessika Tong from the May 2008 Zine. 

Remember, if you are interested in submitting poems to the Zine, email me at geenunn(at)yahoo.com.au with the subject line – SpeedPoets Submission – and paste your poems in the body of your email (no attachments please).

Hope to see many of you at today’s gig.

by Jessika Tong


How will I describe a man to you?
Sifted from clay
Peeled from the old black bark of German oak,
Drowned somewhere over my shoulder
Clawing at the knots of Oedipus.
And men, where are the women?
Where are these homes of children and kitchens?
Presiding in that empty city
That city with its white lies,
Its predictions.


Thinking that my hands were pearls you took
Them to meet your mother
She sniffed the city lights at my wrist,
Alarmingly red,
As if slit and put us to work like rusted mules
Where they would bloom
Softly and out of place against the cold white steel.

I began to bleed bolts and axe heads.
To eat and live machinery.
Its hissing motor
A heart, my heart
With the energy of a writer who no longer appears
Before her pens,
Before a page.

Going home, we shared an apple seed.
A chicken bone. We marched on.
One red foot in front of the other,
The grinding of metal, now, a domestic audience.
My dear, we are producing terror
In that warehouse.
Do not look so astonished that
We no longer breathe love or strong words.
Church yards of vowels
Dead with their lovely bones curved in what once was an
Educated and sweet tongue.


I remember the water freezing in the night.
The war encrusted pipes screaming at our
Coffee cups while we danced off death
Before the stove light.
The air froze right there.
We could touch it.
Pull it between our teeth like a blackened finger.

That month four people in our street
Killed them-selves just to be warm.

The landlords arrived and threw all of their things
Into the gutters.
Only lovely in life
Now they are turned in leaves
With no right to privacy
The kind that we share in this room,
On this bed, across this kitchen table.
I ask you,
Has enough been sacrificed for you to be a whole and I a half?


When I first came to you Sexton was the rage.
We sat up reading Chaucer by a kerosene lamp
Fingers melted to the orange bone of light,
Tingling with alcohol.

I got pregnant, what a disaster you said,
Buttoning your heart, scrounging for an axe.
We can’t afford an abortionist… you will have to kill it yourself.

Biting on a cloth, gas flooded the womb, ate out
The bonneted Eve that slept upon my wish bone.
The old woman that I had seeped into
Crept out of the room with a bowl of chowder that offends
Between her hands.
Emptied it in the bath-tub.
Knotted a yellow ribbon onto the door handle.
The deed is done!
She told me to get up, get up and dust your-self off.
Put on your best dirtiest dress, scrape mud onto your cheeks.
Trick yourself with perfume and bread my lovely thing.
Do you really want to be all alone in this old country?


A little Stalin
You are fat and clean while the
Rest of us are filthy.
We are plucking at the greased bones of God
Starving and sickly as he points us away
From his door
And you return to me
Rich with stories of your other wife.
Of how she soaked you with pig fat before
Taking you into her mouth.
You wear
The robes of a priest convincing us all of
Your sainthood.

Unfortunately for me,
I curtsy
Such a wretched witch I have become
With your company in its malformed armour
Its flickering apple tree that I had sat beneath
With white copies of myself
Hot against your cheek,
Pasting that
Long four letter word to your crutch
In hope that it will seed and give off a
Sweet fruit.


1 Comment

Filed under SpeedPoets Feature Poems

One response to “SpeedPoets Feature Poem #2 – Jessika Tong

  1. thanks Jessica / Graham
    crossed continents and connected with distant experiences, enjoyed uncomfortably. missed this poem in april 08.

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