an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

Poems by Lincoln Jaques

Second Reading

Lincoln Jaques

Published on
page 12 of Tarot #3
(Dec 2021)

My first year of university
I remember going into the bookshop
with a list, buying up all the textbooks
I needed in one go, the cashier neatly
stacking them together, putting them
through the till, the beeps, the prices
flashing up in LED lights.

Then riding home on the bus
on the back seat, me and my books
heavy in the bag against my leg
the day was unusually hot
the sun lit up the harbour as the
old Bedford rumbled over the bridge.

Carrying my books from the bus-stop
down the steep hill to my parents’ house
sitting down taking them all out
one by one, flicking through the pages
smelling the covers, reading the blurbs
I didn’t know then what I was in for
all those years of academia ahead.

A lot of time has passed; I sit again
with a stack of books, some of them
from that day, their pages browned
by the sun, the dust ingrained in the
covers from all that time on the shelf
neglected. I open one up randomly
it’s a poem I read a long time ago
a lecturer tried to explain it to us
and when I wrote about it he said
I’d missed the point. But it moves me
still to this day.

Earth the Red Planet

Lincoln Jaques

Published on
page 34 of Tarot #3
(Dec 2021)

for Carl Sagan


Just ignore this poem.
It’s about climate change.
It’s not happening, anyway.

Ignore the conspiracists.
Ignore 5G, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg,
the anti-vaxxers, the pandemic deniers;
Area-51, Kennedy, Diana, QAnon.
They’re gaining airtime.

We are a fish ingesting a bellyful of microplastics.

Ignore the Amazon rainforest
that will have shrunk by fifty
football fields in the time you’ve
read this poem.

Ignore the children in Tuvalu
who walk to school in water
up to their knees.
Soon they will not know
what dry land is.

Ignore the landslides in Peru
& Guatemala & India & Nepal.
Ignore the buried villagers & farmers.
They will not speak again of this.

As a child I watched in wonder at
the replays of the moon landings.
Then I watched them dump a bag
of rubbish onto the moon’s surface.

Space is no longer filled with meteorites;
there’s also bits of space stations &
rockets & satellites spinning through our orbit.
Our junk has joined Einstein’s Relativity.

The ash from Gondwanaland
reached us 4000 kilometres away.
The skies turned orange; the sun became
a star from another galaxy. We took selfies.

They ignored Kepler & Copernicus;
Eratosthenes & Ptolemy. Forget them.
The Flat-Earthers are making a comeback.

We are sorry we ignored all this, Carl.
You said leave Mars alone.
We’re landing rovers
remotely there now.
We have plans.
Mars is our Plan B.

Already
we’ve left
an imprint.

First Light

Lincoln Jaques

Published on
page 48 of Tarot #3
(Dec 2021)

Drunk again and alone
listening to Warren Zevon on
a tinny transistor gifted by the previous cadaver
a slither of a 9-volt battery life
keeps me alive.

The moon has turned
all the clouds
into white whales thrashing
through the upturned sea

that pours through cracks
fills in spaces shifting parables
a piano solo like footsteps
on shingle disappears into mountains
after fire, after rain, after you left.

Another cigarette
        another shot
                another song
                        another line
                                another hour
                                passes

Memories run in veins along the grain
of the knotted macrocarpa floors
how your face is distorted
your eyes the colour of wind
your mouth a blood orange
fallen from a tree in Madrid.

If you placed two lines
of poetry in a forest
and if I walked forever
through kauri and kahikatea trees

my feet rotting into earth
my hair a knitted garment
for an empty body
I may, eventually, find the note
and read those lines that say
how much how very much
you loved me. Once.

Sweet Unsafe Houses

Lincoln Jaques

Published on
page 57 of Tarot #3
(Dec 2021)

Without us knowing—without anyone knowing
they disappeared. One by one the houses
came down. The ring-fences went up like
metallic centipedes circling the empty lots.

The blind machine was brought in
to chisel a hole through the earth.
The houses tumbled down; the ground
shook. We passed each morning as
the world became smaller.

Emily’s ‘Sweet, safe, houses’ are no more.
We created shorter routes to the malls.
We dug up the bodies. Relocated ourselves.
Our kids self-harm in the abandoned laundromats
in tune to the ghostly revolutions of spin cycles.

As if to reinvent a home, rough sleepers
lay still in the rubble. Their corpses
pulled each morning from the sewage pipes.
A pilgrimage they never saw to the end
they cannot separate themselves from the land.

If Emily saw this she would weep.

Ovid at the Trillos Cabaret Lounge

Lincoln Jaques

Published on
page 22 of Tarot #1
(Dec 2020)

While in Rome
I swear I saw Ovid
sitting in the Trillos Lounge
sipping on a cocktail
and trying to write
with a feather quill.

Rascal.

But it wasn’t Rome
now I think of it
but the bus station
in downtown Auckland.

1989.

Shielded by glass I
looked out to the street
at the Bedfords breathing fire.
Trillos then was a boozy dance hall
beneath the Air New Zealand
building. A smorgasbord
of porn perms, drag queens
and hairy-matted
chests.

A place
to
accumulate
the exiles.

I never did escape.
I went with Ovid
we discussed Tacitus
in broken Latin.

Yet there’s a memory still
of a small café in Rome
near the Spanish Steps
where I left my shadow
after smoking hashish
after getting drunk
on limoncello
eating spiked
tiramisu.

Realising
I never left.

Migration

Lincoln Jaques

Published on
page 38 of Tarot #1
(Dec 2020)

When we came to these shores
the job my father was promised
didn’t exist; the factories
had all closed down.

He was torn between homesickness
and his love for his family.
He’d left a dead father who
lost his lungs to Hitler’s camps.

There were already strangers here;
we were strangers too.
We were refugees, of a sort,
fleeing the cold heart of metal press

factories and car assembly lines,
working 14 hours a day ticking
off each hour on the clock
that held our heartbeats in each second

hand stroke. The English hated
their own; we were exiles into
a land of exiles. We didn’t belong;
none of us did. We left God behind,

thankfully; and we pretended
this life was a “better life for the
kids”. The suicide rate climbed.
And our child mortality stats.

But we clasped onto our ways,
as those in exile clasp to
their religion. We passed cemeteries
ignored those who bereaved their dead.

On the bus this morning I passed
a young gentleman, a collection
of battered suitcases, 3 kids, their
eyes like sun-spots. His wife

standing still, staring, wondering
if they’d finally seen the end
of the world. But I knew where
they’d come from, and where’d

they’d be going, having been one
of those kids, gripping onto
my father’s hand in the pouring rain
thinking of home as an empty room.