Michael Aiken: 21 poems

  Michael Aiken

  21 poems

  JPR 07


You aren’t what you eat

After Lucy Moloney’s ‘City edge iii’


fuck me if you aren’t always lost in this city!
The shadows over there shouldn’t be over here
as I, freezing, watch the sun rise
across banks of sandstone and concrete.

Windows so huge you don’t see them at all,
their refractions of the city a sparkling assault —
all green and blue shot through with steel.

A lone seagull faces north at noon
while a dirty little wind starts to blow;
expanding pavement fractures and cracks.

O, what the matter be?

Variations on The Arrest of Governor Bligh (anonymous)

‘The Arrest of Governor Bligh.’ This image was scanned from a photograph or slide taken by the late Dr John Turner (1933-1998), local historian and lecturer. His collection is rich in Australian history and local studies. Courtesy State Library of New South Wales: TITLE: New South Wales Goverment Printer – Arrest of Governor Bligh January 26, 1808. Copy of the original manuscript documents. CREATOR: New South Wales. Government Printing Office CALL NUMBER: A 1982

‘The governor
has lovely hair.’

The governor cut out, inverted,
attached to the ceiling above the soldiers’ heads.
‘Cunningly disguised as Spiderman,
the governor lives to fight another day.’

The governor standing at the door,
soldiers under the bed in a pile.
‘The governor understands, but must condemn,
the soldiers’ desire to dodge the draft.’

Governor at the door,
soldiers in bed in a pile.
‘No draft dodging here.’

Soldiers crowded on the bed,
facing the wall. (Bligh
still underneath).
‘No one is above the law.
The governor cowers in shame,
charged with making illegal
low-quality copies of popular songs.’

Strip away the walls, ceiling and floor,
add in bush and stars.
‘The brave soldiers protect their sovereign
in the wilds of terra australis.




Remove rear wall and ceiling,
insert photos of contemporary crowd.

Governor turned on his back.
Soldiers with backs turned to him.
‘The officers did all they could
to protect their prisoner.’

Governor hanging from up-ended bed,
soldiers’ backs turned.
‘The officers did all they could.’

Governor wearing blackface.
‘It was for his own good.’

‘Alone in his ship’s cabin,
the Captain is seized by mutineers.’

Soldiers’ clothes blacked out.
‘Armed thugs terrorise
elderly man with lovely hair
during awful home invasion.’

Soldiers under bed with governor.
‘Slumber party!’

No soldiers.
‘Me, myself and I
have the best imagination games.’

That’s not a poem
 — it’s nothing but words on a page.


From Satan Repentant book V

Jesus and Lucifer confront one another

‘You would fight me?’ Jesus stamped and surged.
‘I am the Konami code, deus ex deo,
no machine necessary.
You hate our love, Satan, you
hate our way of life, always have.’
‘I hate your hypocrisy, sententious sophist!
You killed our father and wear his face for a mask,
like a wishful child,
and you speak of ‘love’!’

‘I am love, Satan, I am light. Whatever
I am, whatever I choose to be, that is ‘love’. You
are my enemy, you are not me. You are not love.’
Jesus raised his weapon and rained redemption
on Lucifer.

Satan staggered crabwards, returned upright
to speak: ‘How can you adorn for war,
when love was always your catch-cry?’ ‘Long
before I had my own mind (a laugh aside
at how fraught the thought, gauntlet of solipsism
yawning before him eternally) — long before I had a slogan,
I already had a purpose.
I am here to destroy Satan. That is why
I was born in the thoughts of my father-mother-
cousin-brother-self. The kernel of my being is revenge.
What would you do, for such a situation?
The object of my existence exited his prison-home,
making pretence to replace me?
I needs must play the role
the people all wrote for me. Those haughty words
attributed, become my mantle and my gloves.
The claims to superhumanity self-fulfil
whether I want or not.’
Turning to the miserable faithful surrounding them in throng: ‘I am
he of whom you’ve spoken, and I have no other role.
Let us cleanse this Earth,
that we may live in Paradise.’

Many angels resolve to serve with Hell, prevent Armageddon

The angels — too late — sided with Beelzebub, bid
prevent Armageddon, that they might continue existence.
Lieutenants and dominions argued every point
who commands whom,
the colour their uniforms, the standard calibre
for all their infernal weapons —
and Jesus cleaned up the survivors, striking, smiting,
tsunami-shaped his flaming blade
swept the many away. Reinflated,
Beelzebub’s hollow corpse once more
arose, gestured with a smile ‘Behold, I am risen and go before thee.
Do not despair!’
The son of God smote down that toad’s throat, yet again
it flowered and bloomed.
‘To hell with him’ said Jesus, and turned once more to Lucifer.
Sneaking pantomime, the toothless pig-king
wavered, cajoling,
staggered to shake off the blow.
Animated from within by some frivolous demon,
the shredded head fell off
and Furcifer’s face emerged,
bloodied, ichoric, split and failing.
‘We had some fun, didn’t we?’ he smiled fading,
dusty weeds dispersed on the wind.

Australian poet Michael Aiken.

In 2016 Michael Aiken was chosen by ABR Laureate David Malouf as the inaugural Laureate’s Fellow, for which he wrote the book-length poem ‘Satan Repentant’. He was born in western Sydney and raised on the New South Wales central coast. Emerging from a thirteen-year career in the security industry, he has developed a poetics largely rooted in direct observation and treatment of the thing itself. Michael’s book A Vicious Example (2014) was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize. Michael Aiken’s poetry and prose has appeared in various journals in Australia and overseas. He lives and works in Sydney.



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