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Adam Aitken

Two poems

Force Zero

for Alan Jefferies


the waves flatten out to ripples on our breath
suntan lotion pearls the water

both surface and suntan
inflect prisms in the morning light

we blink as it stares us in the face

the heart beats out the days
blended through these fountain pen desires
made foundation for our skins

so troublesome, this skin
so many bodies

the message of the surface
is joy squared, exponential!

all around there are the beautiful,
naked, tattooed, proud

do my looking for me
you say,

and I looked for you
swimming into the West, celebrating

this remission from care
in our “days of azure”


on this blemished horizon
shambles of real estate no one owns
I think of cells gone wild
sucking up resources
capitalism’s excess

I think of your
coded poems, your demi-monde

I think of you
mutating in the sun

I think of becoming
a small minor god

a miniature god of mutation
or a god of small things

as Arundati Roy puts it
in her rambling Indian epic of small things

the almost-whisper of a Zero wind
promises good things

the way Christmas morning was
silence worth unwrapping

like Polynesians we sink down
into our earth our oceans

unlike Polynesians
we make metaphors of Polynesians

because the word is beautiful
and Polynesians are beautiful

a pearl diver’s heart skips a beat
the ghost in the machine

a film of bubbles
rises up from the hidden reef

God? the pearl diver asked
I never found Him
what pearl does not wrap itself in a shell?

there is nothing deeper

I thought of Lorca and
your duende
and knew it suited you

like a battered sports coat
that reeks of ganja
in that brasserie in Barcelona

- how Paradise threw out the poets
as dusk shut down like a shop

and we were purified
in Tzara’s
“bath of circular landscapes”

Yes, it was so
but the doubt remains:

if you were dead
would I know you

would I know you perfectly?
In a mood

of revolutionary happiness
despite everything, the virus

wave never breaks
and the body wavering

is alive and remains just so
that zero
wind in my heart.

To my Double

Even my beautiful other half
Reminds me of you

We are growing old
At a simultaneous pace

We both take
exactly half of the first

bottle of wine
after that the wisdom-ratio

is pure astronomy

We watch the same programs
and laugh together

you used to pick the murderer

now I do

We cry together too
when once it was only

one half that cried
the other stony faced

Now our teeth
engage perfectly

we kiss much more
and for longer

on retirement
we know exactly

what we want to see
love is a kind of

intense plot awareness
I look at myself

I see you

Adam Aitken photo

Adam Aitken

Adam Aitken is a Sydney poet and teaches writing at the University of Technology, in Sydney. His last book was Romeo and Juliet in Subtitles (Brandl & Schlesinger, 2000).

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