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J A C K E T   #   E L E V E N   |    A P R I L   2 0 0 0  


John Wilkinson - Two poems


      I Looked Up

Within its gorge an interleaf refinery took hold,
            but the voice grain
rescues what little whizzes where they might be
            counted arbitrary
like fire-flies really torch, or it flicks like a knife
            woke those individuals,
                              struck dumb
                              allowed but one minute,
flock like spicks of turbulence on the Han Sen
or a slow-dawning point a father tries to make
            assembles. Let go.
The executive flies in on a fixed-term contract
            from HQ in The Hague.
Intelligence needs locals, glance-photoanalysis
            like midges figure.

He'll know what colour shifts like light sieves
            through the leafy
shingles of the sycamore, the acacia, mullein or
            so many foster-
parents' hands admonish, calm, love, interfere
            across due kisses.
We all know do we not in that luminous hour
sadly worn.
A little wind gossips the plastic on the trunks
                              wrap about & strangulate
rings before they have anything to put towards.
We know this from the performance of cattle
            grazing in Eritrea.

Set it against meteorology or to world markets
            break a vertical section
lights the ranks of processors, the living roofs,
            a spider drops
from the canopy on casenotes & it is psychosis
            read off one exchange.
                              Horizontals stay well-lit,
steps shadowed, depth of field pulls off-stride.
So zigzag wanderer how will you stand for C3,
            zinc, a pinch of salt?
Where is the deference as you look straight on,
            too much like a child
fending with light which must be picked down
in nonsensical bits?

Air turbulence has combed the flowering nettles
            alongside the runway.
Hooded are the changes he introduced but this
            glare however distinct
touches base in a green nap, hits the very spot
                              like mildew
stiffens material beneath an impenetrable shield.
The song-
skein has been jammed that held a flotilla true,
the cast
of decision among the swallows sags to earth.
The hands pass through hair & are interpreted
            by CCTV
according to a behavioural databank - woman,
white, mid-forties, not a suspect.

Look up, no shadows.
            Overhead, the lawn he smiles under.
                       Above us the audiometric panels.


      Growth Potential

Beyond the walls the kine graze, that otherwise
would stray confused & optional.
The different levels skew to each other,
supposed to stop free fall -
but click like a wrist or straighten round the
black snaky lance.

The panels fall away like beetle husks, the sign
revealed is what
the wing flaunted
dominance over, the embossed
wound for it became an innocent polyp, they say.

Deep costume gags on the camera like a called-on
stand-by, it was a star-
finder found the palace, oyster-
shell encrusted, gaudy, all evaginated
surface. I understand the rococo flaps & dewlaps,

growths defying function flourish
against the water-tight bulkhead lamps but can't
get a grip with plastic cutlery
or shift normally in
rivetted chairs, break out over the place.

Why can't you return me to Viet-
namese, Ethiopian cafés, sisters on Mare Street
trinketing the pavement,
you don't walk on the pavement, you
walk down the thin concrete reservation to avoid
late falls of glass

but deep insignia will not be enclosed, they hatch
& from their mouths, from mortar scooped
fly the newsbearers
scattering leaves,
smudging that underfoot reproduce mosquito-like.
Or miniature wolves
I'd call them in their ranks, their parallel arrays.

As out of water the imperious came like chain-
drive vehicles & sand shifts organically,
skews one tessera & these are Europe's
concrete citadels in collars.
God is little.
An ever-tinier arc constrained by self protein.


You can read Andrea Brady's review of John Wilkinson's Reverses (Cambridge: Equipage, 1999) in Jacket # 9, Drew Milne's review of Wilkinson's Sarn Helen (Cambridge: Equipage, 1997) in Jacket # 3, and two poems by John Wilkinson in Jacket # 3.


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