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Jacket 15 — December 2001   |   # 15  Contents   |   Homepage   |   Catalog   |

Chris Edwards

3 poems


“Correct! The photo is important! I say, Listen, they have nothing
When I get an idea. Then sit down and I make
peanuts — meaning that every time I open my mouth,
one blank turn of events
after the next bends cunningly toward me
as I go twirling
my baton toward the future —
I personally, I impersonally, I personified and so on, lurching
querulously across each brief tableau
begat by scarecrows
in this wilderness of thorns. You get the picture
framed and mounted and all that patching
starts to make a kind of sense.”
       A hush fell over the locker room
is one way to describe it. Another way, my way,
is a warm gap between bleachers
  “Like to earn a hundred dollars?”
took two loads of an astonishment. There were big deals
just beyond me, zooming in then out then in again
       in a mad giddy rush while I
let a guy rope down from the scaffolding I’d
constructed as a kind of house. But it was him again,
       deserted. Terrifying
soul of our surroundings, how innumerable your ripples,
to which my glances corresponded, pocketing
what they’d find!

exact wording

Today I’m visiting a dental hospital
run by Dr John Kellogg,
faithful inventor of the cornflake
my dear father gave me
who sits by my bedside gently
proclaiming a continuation of a faint tale of
“My name is Ruth. I grew up with my sister,
and when she died,
‘Brrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinng!’ An alarm clock clanged
everywhere. Tub-dweller, she lived at the Villa
Borghese via the fence during the reign
of the terrible lizards.”

My purpose exactly
was ended now. Smoke drifted
like thin grey wisps above tortured Kentucky
halfway down a lane. My name
was Robinette Broadhead,
it was the hour of twilight on a soft spring day
successfully disguised after the fashion of that
time. What caused it was not my problem.
So I referred to my notes, now whittled
into toothpicks. “It looks like a no go,”
somebody said. “Exact
wording may vary.”


Albeit my god-given property rights
extend no further than the offices of Lord Fogg,
dispenser of paralysis gas — who owns
everything I have to say
the way Canada owns the muskrat —
I’m nonetheless prone to purveying things,
ideas you might call them if you’d care to be polite,
without much fear of reclamation. Who’d
want them? After all, I’m an individual
invented in the likeness of a living creature —
any points of view that may afflict my features,
in so far as they are true, denote
science, doxa, reality, reason,
this is the amen. I “recognise”
the other’s voice, my habit
of hallucinating filled with the odour of roses —
yet immediately afterwards, he dives into the
it said in a form which is as affirmative,
as articulated as I have a tale to tell you about
“bubbles, muddy and scorching,”
where we wander, “a forehead of ash.”
       Long after the amorous relation is allayed,
colours they will not permit, the most
manifest improprieties, viz., “that they themselves are
beasts and shall beget an hundred children,” still
permeate the view and take up postures
of interpretation in the host’s own compartment.
They spread out into all four corners of his well-
appointed complex, treating him like some
quantity, a solar myth or irrational echo
that after a moment’s anxiety over
“please, I’m on the phone,”
might imagine I’m de-fascinated, left without a missing leg
to madden myself and stand on, my POV
now that of a professor
as he weaves his way
through corridors made redundant
by his passage. Good riddance, I say
to the winds that whip about me. And if you too
should come stumbling forward, and if you too
should come tumbling by through space,
get ready, extinction is upon us.
       I hope this doesn’t sound overly dramatic,
but as Menon was by Socrates, I am electrified, stunned,
shaken, or — like Kirchner’s hypnotised chook
entranced by a chalkline
here on the road to Damascus —
“done for,” perhaps twice over, by this echoing
“steady beat of drums and banana leaves
woven into arches” — and I must confess
I’m not quite sure whether to consult someone about it
or just blend into the background, which is glass
windows glowering over a brightly lit
inner well — I’d say “sanctum,” but it isn’t.
I tell myself nothing of the hesitant letters that,
filled with the heavy breathing of strangers,
arrive without name or title —
they’re like dark deeds exchanging the hands
that signed them, with such savoir faire, in a foreign
language long ago.



David Baratier, “Interview with Simon Perchik,” Jacket 8
Ward, Lock & Co., Great Inventors: The Sources of their Usefulness and the Results of their Efforts, Profusely Illustrated

exact wording

Isaac Asimov, I, Robot
T. Coraghessan Boyle, The Road to Wellville
Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of Seven Gables
Günter Grass, The Tin Drum
William Kennedy, Quinn’s Book
Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer
Frederik Pohl, Gateway
Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
Clifford Simak, Way Station
Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again
Richard Wright, Native Son


Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse
Charles Hoffman et al., Batman (the Greenway Productions television series)
Ecclesiastes 3:18, 6:3
Moses Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed
Jamie Mitchell, “Subject: Pins and Needles”
James Murray, quoted in Simon Winchester, The Surgeon of Crowthorne

Chris Edwards is a Sydney-based writer. His first book, utensils in a landscape, will be published by Vagabond/Stray Dog editions in September 2001.

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