Monday, March 09, 2020

New Poetry by Miguel Jacq

The Belt

I am punching holes in my belt
pretending it’s progress

legs akimbo, sitting on a sand bed
warming at the waist 

and watching a century’s worth 
of rain flapping like a wet sheet,

a crisis of angst dumping down
busy drama on the ocean.

useless, useless — from the shore
a storm seems to lack all motion. 

Between the crosshairs of time
all seconds stand still. 

I sniff the air. 

Tonight it will reach forward and peel 
the skin off the sea like old sunburn,

lift it like a precious heirloom and wrap 
a sheet around my shoulders. 


What I carry in the q of my surname
is stiff as crab shell.

In it you can hear ancestors beating 
a stubborn rhythm into every wave,

rolling and hurling outrage at the way
of things, familiar fingers clawing at the foam.

Storms at sea sound like chalk 
scraping across a blackboard night.

Watching the clock. Relentless.
I clutch at my belt where an X marks the spot.

There are no more notches in the hour
for these treasured seconds.

I throw it in, an effigy to the undertow.
It’s a baleful sea, eyes me like a librarian 

guarding the squid ink: it knows of words
borrowed that must be given back.


All ceintures meet at the center.

Here is where my fathers spit salt 
in my face, whisper the untranslatable. 

What’s a word for homesickness 
if it’s a place one’s never been?

c’est dans tes veines, they say, 
by which they mean it’s been in me.

I want us to grow cold together,
replies the ocean to the storm.

So the rain belt tightens, punches 
a hole straight through time

and wraps the burn of an ice sheet
around my shoulders,

waist-deep waste in the crosshairs
useless, useless —

legs akimbo and ready 
to lack all motion.

- © Miguel Jacq 2020

Miguel Jacq is a French-Australian poet from Melbourne. In 2016 and 2018 he won the Nillumbik Ekphrasis Poetry Prize.

No comments: