Three Poems by Jack Emsden

Twitter: @emsdenj Instagram: @jackemsden

this room I

is an interruption in the daily furniture a body overwhelmed by months of wildfires days straight of rain I could live this weather always the mutability of skin crumpled and morning-tired like bedding like we are whole climates altering forests retreating your voice like foliage opening a river overrunning its banks every particle caramelised a whole ambush of clouds singing the glamour of discarded outfits a conspiracy of socks bunched in every available cubby-hole find an opening and name it name ourselves after each other and everything in-between an accident of roots ambition of wetlands our large porous bodies always open always opening into another




this room II

is a dim-lit kitchenette because here we call it a kitchenette you are playing american sports in the back yard because here we call it a yard and it is fully summer in this winter poem the warm tartan of your body knowing itself as a body the soft pressure of barbeques on my lungs every day we throw a birthday party for ourselves in the dressing room mirror in our overlarge shirts the overlarge sleeves are like arms attached to our arms we have long given up the need for shoes my god can you feel love like milk in your throat like figs what to do with them look the strawberries are still ripe and in season the apples the oranges my god I want to hold you in a room full of apricots





the future

Lying among the chemicals

I’m overfilled, meat-sick, my organs

laid open to the heatswell. I’ve overgrown

the landscape of straight edges, synthetic angles,

where you could fold the badness of a body

neatly into a corner, let the throat wander

freely to the end of its rope, the future moored

offshore like a tanker. I’m left alone

clutching my talismans, afraid to light the candle, fit the leaf

in my palm like a rolled sock, slice my secrets like a lemon

and drink. Here, tenderness is a papercut

or an offering. Somewhere distant the past

rips open like a letter. How do you understand

this topography? A history of misremembering

violence as a well-worn coat

or a succession of brand new headaches?

Was the landslide personal or the great unruly world

concluding its consultations?

There’s always something else

happening inside the soil

of our daily emails. If I were to lay it out

like a memory

I would say we ran for the exit in a panic

of incomplete and overdue forms, in the carpark

care became ticketed and rigidly enforced, the architects

laughed while their buildings burned,

the sky overstuffed with smoke,

I felt the numb of it all as I joined

the slow carbohydrate march

of our apologies making their way

towards the coast, I too cut my knuckles

against the cliff edge of narrowing futures,

threw my abandoned promises

onto the rocks, carved out my name

and nothing crumbled, nothing gave itself away.

Let the records show

these were the conditions,

that there are always alternatives

until there aren’t. The tunnel walls

grew waterlogged, our protective suits

sutured onto skin. And very soon

came the counter-pressure of throats

swallowing themselves, the dawn unzipping

our sticky irregular hearts, tinned goods arranged

in the shape of crop circles. I only watched

from the side-lines, my tongue heavy

as an apple. Understand that I, like many others, was afraid

of the future untethered and spinning

and all I could think was to hold the railing

as the world spilled over. Every day

I live like this. Waking tired

as rent payments, I carry my collection of disasters

from the memory of the office, consolidate my language

beside the bonfire. I don’t know how to ask for help,

I don’t know what I need. This is a very ordinary fear.





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