Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tuesday Poem - Quasimodo by Andy Jackson


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.

Andy Jackson
from “Among the Regulars”
papertiger media, SOI3, 2010.

Andy Jackson lives in Melbourne and I think it would be fair to say he is part of the scene. This poem was the runner-up in the MPU prize a few years back and since then he has won the Rosemary Dobson Prize. And next year he is off to Chennai with an Asialink residency. He has won and done all sorts of other stuff, including the most intriguing and poignant puppetry collaborations with his partner Rachael Guy, which have been performed at the Overload Festival in Melbourne and at the Queensland Poetry Festival. Andy was born in 1971 and lives with Marfan Syndrome.



  1. Jen, welcome to Tuesday Poem as a regular! Great to have you join us. This poem is mind-blowing. I am in love with its power, its mythology, its sounds, its brilliant imagery - oh the belfry chest, the girls like lighthouses, the 'filth and luck of cul de sacs' -

  2. What an astonishing poem. Moving, beautifully written. Thank you for posting it here. It was a privilege to read.

  3. Jennifer,

    Welcome to the Tuesday Poem Blog community and congratulations also, on winning the very prestigious Kathleen Grattan Award.

    The poem is powerful, with a strong rhythm and imagery; the kind that will both repay and require several readings to really come to grips with.

  4. Hi people - thanks for dropping by - I love this Tuesday Poetry thing - now I have been emboldened to try my hand at a blog. I am really looking forward to introducing you to some of my favourite Oz poets - PLUS some golden oldies.

  5. Welcome to Tuesday Poem, Jennifer! It will be lovely to be exposed to some Aussie poets and poetry - I'm looking forward to it. Quasimodo is a powerful piece. The senses are truly tingling. Thanks for posting!