The bike itself
The black bike someone left, locked up,
is daily deconstructed by theft. With each
walk past, you think – I could do with that,
a simplification, where what’s lost isn’t up to me.
Without knowing it, this is Coburg’s version
of a zen koan – where has the bike itself gone?
A mynah swoops and clips a pigeon, a plastic bag
becomes a flag on a fig-tree and a young man
stares into his laptop’s dim, flickering screen.
Now you can’t walk past the half-demolished
house – no roof or walls, only an empty frame
surrounding a fireplace. Memories not even
lavender-patterned wallpaper can hold onto
lift into the sky, like pollen or dust in reverse.
Kolkata, Siliguri, Kalimpong
Frayed saris and squares of newsprint approximate rooms on the street.
Necessity’s flesh – haircuts, tyre repair, graves and wombs on the street.
Poetry dives, hides deep in the bones. Your body’s lost, splutters
in this tidal scent of rubbish, food, urine, diesel fumes on the street.
Your city’s hushed and ordered as a court. Here, blood’s timid whispers
are lost – lung-clearing men hack, a backfiring taxi booms on the street.
They play carrom or cards, laugh and smoke and haggle over fruit.
Other bodies are carried past (on beds to their tombs) on the street.
You make an air-conditioned bookstore your temporary shelter.
The cold shadow of a smiling shoeless child looms on the street.
Go on, curse the caged gods, run from the city’s cacophanous song.
You’ll walk the siren aisle, one of millions of her grooms on the street.
The limbs of the chilli tree are caged, swathed in the purdah of dust and
getting-on-with-it. Still, it’s urgent red display as it blooms on the street!
Cows asleep on the median strip, twenty men sweating in a jeep, defecating kids waving hello, mandirs of dusty mandarins, kerosene wafting through a frayed curtain… all of life’s undisguised perfumes on the street.
Andy Jackson’s poetry can be found in many print and on-line journals (including Going Down Swinging, Heat, Island, Blue Dog, Cordite and Thylazine). In 2008, he was awarded grants from the Australia Council and Arts Victoria, and won the Rosemary Dobson Prize for Poetry. He won the 2009 Overload Poetry Festival’s Most Innovative Work Award for Ambiguous Mirrors, a collaboration with puppeteer Rachael Guy and cellist David Churchill. His most recent collection of poems, Among the Regulars, is due to be published by papertiger media in early 2010.