Listening Post

In the name of national security
she listens in and scans the secret hours
for emblems of sedition in the fifth estate,

some fresh intelligence. Obscurity
bestows upon her fascinating powers,
although the suppositions that she makes

are not her own but drawn from lists
— transactions for a hundredweight
of weed-killer, twilight Google search

for Sarin, twenty texts from anarchist
to his cabal, some random future dates.
Outside the cable nexus, she could purge

herself of training, take the weekend drugs
and be with him tonight. The faintest click,
the line connects. A dial tone, the tap is set.

She hears him phone out from the snug,
some pub in rain-dipped northern bailiwick,
imagines him sat there. In silhouette

he is the very devil, cosy with Bakunin,
dressed in Lyle & Scott. The idle dream
begins — she says his name as they rush up to bed,

they talk of getting out somehow. The tuning
fades, but someone’s watching her on-screen.
Her mobile rings. Click. The line goes dead.


I Am The Man Who Winds The Doomsday Clock

Sure that you, like me, lament the lack
of tension which necessitates its winding.
The fading of the hour, when bloc bloc bloc
was how you marked your understanding
of yourselves, has seen you shoring up the weak,
ingesting their slow poisons. Now you’re finding
middle ways to keep them from the shock
of rumbling battalions descending
on their undetermined borders. You make pacts
encompassing the merest ones of them, befriending
even those whose full-fat ideologies you reject.

Surely you must long for generals in spider-black,
fronting up their juntas, unearned medals jostling
for room with golden frogging, launch code books
a hand’s reach away? Did you ever see them selling
off their sovereignty vows for piles of stock,
or ceding land for shares in offshore drilling?
Thank God the planet’s dying, then, Geiger clicks
fading, and yet you always have the means of killing
what you cannot understand, going back
to what you call your nature. Blue chip stocks are falling
as I wind the minute hand around to twelve o’clock,
till all is silence in the gap between the tick and tock.


[Andy Jackson was born in Manchester but has lived in Scotland for 20 years. His poems have appeared in Magma, Poetry News, New Writing Scotland, Northwords Now, Rising, and other publications. His first collection The Assassination Museum was published in March 2010 by Red Squirrel Press.]

Copyright © 2011 by Andy Jackson, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.