Tell me about it


‘If I was really going to be radical I would’ve said, polytropos means “straying,” and andra’ — “man,” the poem’s first word — ‘means “husband,” because in fact andra does also mean “husband,” and I could’ve said, “Tell me about a straying husband.”‘

—Emily Wilson, first woman translator of The Odyssey

‘I’ve watched every episode of Poirot and Midsomer Murders on TV. I never guess the ending and I can’t wait for the moment when the detective gathers all the suspects in the room…’

—Anthony Horowitz, author of Magpie Murders


Tell me about a straying husband
the many islands
so hard to leave, storms etc
and tell me about the steadfast wife
the weaving etc
so much in the way of etc
basically, the whole history one big etc
but so moving
the dog, etc
at the end, the return—
all of it, terrible
but worth it for the return
and the justice of it all
some kind of detective must be looking over it all
there is right and there is wrong
to be winkled out with crafty single-mindedness
all those many turns heading towards
the single return
the return to justice
the great house
who could have been surprised really
whoever did it
they all did it
dozens oh dozens of suitors
dozens oh dozens of girls
where could they go
no islands for them
except in their heads, where they lived
unweaving over and over
over and over in their heads

Lender, cinder


‘must I hold a candle to my shames?’
        —Jessica, Shylock’s daughter, The Merchant of Venice, 

‘my eye shall be the stream / And watery death-bed for him’
        —Portia, if matters had gone differently, which for some of us they do,  III.ii 


I lend and lend, yes, but the day will come
I lose interest and walk out
into the forest to lose
a silence 
where I feel the dislodged air 
raise the hairs on my cheek
heated from the inside
I am a furnace
of anger 
papered and peppered 
losing a silence in the embers 
the birds all gone 
the air dark and the sparks
from the fire sly 
sinister stars
the hours have passed faster
than the birds
the sky is turning around over my hands
my hands are hot
raised over the fire
my eyes burning, watering 
hot tears, running
lines down my smoky cheeks
a little art work
I will never repeat


Anna Jackson is an Associate Professor in the English Literature programme at Victoria University, lecturing in American literature, children’s literature and poetry. Her writing can be found on, including details of Pasture and Flock: New and Selected Poems (AUP 2018), her latest poetry collection.