Among the regulars, Andy Jackson
"A polished and assured collection, so radiant with insight and sureness of touch that it’s impossible to remain unmoved. Andy Jackson has the uncanny knack of seeing humanity, like a burning filament, underneath what appears at first mundane. His poems, like beautifully shaped pieces of music, change melody and cadence but always resonate, coming to us out of pools of silence to show us the pathos in difficult conversations, late night drinks with friends, sexuality, grief, and an extraordinarily acute awareness of physicality and mortality. They’re poems that disarm you with their gentleness while refusing to flinch from what’s there."- Cate Kennedy
Excerpt from the book
I feel a breath at my neck and wake. A dream
only a stranger's brain could make jolts me back
into my body. Who else roams these bones?
The morning sun cannot melt him away.
He throws back the sheets as I reach for the snooze,
my brain a dead leg he drags through the day.
How much can physiology explain? He puts on clothes
I know don't suit us, eats the food I can't bear to taste,
loops memories I'd rather lose. I'm allergic
to the pills he takes that make us well.
My thoughts fall from the tree he grows.
Once I spoke up – he slapped me, I punched him
in the guts. It hurt us both. On the surface,
all is calm. Skin keeps us singular.
In the gym, in a mantra of movement and sweat,
tense men furtively scan me for sutures,
questions crushed beneath their teeth. But every life
is a hive of many energies. And tonight, as he slips
into sleep, a molecular frequency keeps me awake,
sharpening this knife.
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.
Since the mid-1990s, Andy Jackson has published poems in a wide variety of print and online journals, featured at dozens of literary events (including The Age Melbourne Writers Festival, Australian Poetry Festival, Newcastle Young Writers Festival, and Overload Poetry Festival), and been awarded grants from the Australia Council for the Arts and Arts Victoria and a mentorship from the Australian Society of Authors. He is also an infrequent collaborator with musicians, sound artists and other writers. Among the regulars is his first full length poetry collection.