Monday, September 29, 2014

Tuesday Poem - 'The future of genetics' by Andy Jackson

The future of genetics

Through a cold foyer, we're ushered in
and down into the cavernous theatre by a string
of young women in academic gowns.
Their smiles seem genuine. Something

not unlike a twisted ladder, we're told,
spins invisibly at the core of us.
Each DNA strand, if unwound, would span
a metre and a half. We're quietly impressed

and think of knitting, of surgery and love,
as one single cell appears, wall-high,
before us. This is the culmination of countless
experiments by computer animators

and geneticists. The projection falters again -
a black-clad technician rushes up,
hunched over, as if in obeisance, then
disappears. The laser pointer hovers

shakily for a moment over indigenous,
as the speaker mentions ethics, then moves on.
We're reassured Exxon is developing
a synthetic organism that could replace oil.

Another professor sniffs into a handkerchief,
blows her nose. One roving microphone
and ten minutes for the history and future
of genetics, as the house lights come up on us.

We can't help but gaze at each other's arms
and faces. Lights shine and turn on the surface
of our eyes. We are all strangely alive.
All our very good questions are answered

confidently. At the exit, a metallic tree
of coathangers, a sign disclaiming
responsibility. We lift our heavy coats -
the hangers chime.

I went to the launch (by Kevin Brophy) of Andy Jackson's the thin bridge
(Whitmore Press Poetry) at Collected Works, and what a top night. I don't
think I have ever heard Kevin be more apposite or askew – and then the
book! Andy's work just gets better and better. It becomes more yielding,
more trenchant, more charming, and more exacting. All I can say is that
it is a pity the Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize only has a print run of
200 copies. That just doesn't seem quite enough for such a little ripper
of a book.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tuesday Poem - 'Aubade' by Kevin Brophy

     Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in
        in the night. William Blake.

He's young again, my old friend,
and has not cured himself of the habit
of pulling curtains aside and raising blinds
as he slips in and comes through the house.
He's already opened the kitchen window for me
and settled on the balcony, slouching on its long bench, ready.

We sit for a while out here considering
the nature of the light this morning.
I tell him, again, I'd like him to stay all day.
Nosing through the long grass above the house
two dogs from next door trot past, sniff the sweet william.
He shivers in his thin jacket, dawn's frost still in him.

I mention fireflies we saw last night
though I know this is a sight he can't imagine.
I tell him my hip and right calf are tight
from yesterday's walk in these mountains.
He says he walks everywhere he goes and I believe him.
He watches me do some stretches, finds it amusing.

I know that when I go inside to the coffee pot
he will leave. I do think, though, that he's curious
about how a whole day might go, its hollowed out
brightness, eventual dusk, descent into night.
When I come back from the kitchen with coffee
I'll sit where he was sitting and consider the valley,
its vines that hold out their last leaves eager for this light.

As a rule, since Larkin's Aubade, I am a bit stringent about the use of
the word as the title of a poem. So I approached this poem stringently,
which may have been why it took me a moment to tumble to it. When I
did I gave a little grin and a chuckle, as if the poet was joking with me,
(maybe he was) and I thought – Yep. You've earned it. Only title you could
have used.
I also really liked the use of personification, and wondered if perhaps the
poet is a fan of Keats, maybe back in the day, like we all were back in the
day. Maybe some of us still are fans. John Keats' To Autumn was the first
time I stumbled upon personification, and now I realise it is a weapon I
have never added to my arsenal.

Kevin Brophy's new and selected book Walking, is now available from -