Andy Jackson is 33, physically unusual due to Marfan Syndrome,
and a writer, recently published in Salt-Lick, Going Down Swinging,
Hutt, Big Bridge, Famous Reporter, Papertiger and Verandah. His
most recent collection of poetry is Aperture, which includes a CD
of collaborations with musicians, and he is currently working on
another with a grant from the Australia Council. Contact him at He lives in Melbourne.

Cornered / Rogue / Example

Most days you're probably too afraid to notice
how these words weighed down with guns
are slowly rusting The progress
is microscopic
like this which is
for those who've inhaled the bullets and
took the boots of the obedient
and you -
so you don't fit in? and some take your existence
as a threat? Good Wouldn't you rather be
one of the oppressed?
But I might be dragged through town
half-skinned might be shot in my own bed
made a minor celebrity all for trying to be
who I am not what they call me
Well right now you are
your only chanceYour body is becoming a door

and one day the labels will slough right off us -
the worn-out skin of a long insanity
I just hope you survive
to accept your inheritance

The embalmer defends his art

This morning I paused for the first time -
an updraft tugged at me from within
the long wound in the torso -
a mouth about to smile, a crack
in the earth that could swallow all sound
and confidence,
but I wanted this one
to face their crowd as expected -
surreptitious stitches through the touched-up skin
and all the routine touches covered up
with subtle makeup.
Some dare say this facade
I've built's paper thin,
a dishonest portrait, or an apologist's spin,
pale mimic of the living thing,
or just mutely think it.
Too much decoration?! Let me tell you
I stand over the body
before I start, to imagine
how it may have looked when alive,
how the blood may have coloured
the cheeks or the canvas at these
wrists that now house no beat -
then try my best to cover up
the question "What is behind this?",
yet still with my craft allow it to be asked.

My concern is for what is
evoked by a face with its eyes shut.
I walk forward with two steady hands
and together we straddle the tightrope
between worlds
as the body does nothing
but whisper "Why is it we aim for beauty
when it's corruption at our core?"
We are all liars -
but I know for those left behind
living is the ultimate front,
and the task I daily try to rise to
implies an agreement with my audience
that in grieving there are some curtains
we don't want thrown open -

mystery's hints always
more gentle with us.

The way of life we hold so close to our hearts

I'm afraid
we're going to die
in a position not too dissimilar to this one,
though our arms, perhaps, will be wrapped
tight 'round our own bodies like
lonely teenagers, our knees pressed up against
our bruised and sunken chests.
By then, we'll each have for ourselves
meagre piles of notes
and coins and blood-shot half-closed
eyes, and the wires inside us
will have frayed so much
we'll confuse our wounds with prison
tattoos or elliptical job descriptions.
Death will come
with his pointed
commentary on how we've betrayed
our intentions and petered out. At our sparsely
attended funerals, they'll play advertising jingles
and speak our names in place of
"insert name here". And since the length
of all queues must never shrink to
less than immense, they'll be sure
to make more to replace us. The truth is
there are other routes of escape
which call and elude us, even

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