Issue 6: Andy Jackson

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.