Featured Writer Jennifer Maiden: Three New Poems

brookings in fur

Calling this new collection brookings: the noun, on the basis
that brookings are things that trickle the Overton Window
to the Right by focusing on soft left topics, like Me Too,
Women’s Status and Ecology and Same-Sex Marriage –
even though all these are noble causes – creates some creature
in the mind: soft little Brookings, a pink-nosed squeaker
too gentle for words like Global, War or Money, who
would not know the price of a gun. I feared to describe him,
in case I became trapped, like Jann Harry almost in Peter,
but you are too shrewd to fall in love with fur,
and Jann discarded artful innocence anyway.
In fact, I was at least once Max in her poems, when
I explained that Iran ran the Basra Secret Service,
.                                      and Max
said the same thing to Braid the next day. I may
have been Max at times, and my own George Jeffreys,
or Clare, or any of the others, single voice or pair.
But would I want to become little Brookings?
I see him with small claws. They close on you
and your heart becomes a real physical thing,
with a compulsion to protect him. Let her protect me,
great Spirit of the Universe, my ancestral Durga,
with her many limbs, from all that’s born to narrow
the vision to a bright domestic window. But once now
I will pass small Brookings to you for a hug. He
needs one, as we all do. His eyes are very pure,
he lives by the morning water,
he yearns, like all of us, to climb a tree and stay there,
nothing clear but his headlight-stare. I will give to you
his unforgettable softness: as profound as all live fur,
but you, like me, may never let him go.

‘brookings in fur’ read by Jennifer Maiden (Quemar Press, 2018)


They threatened and promised so much,
and why when I was contained, numberless,
and posed no threat?
We’ll talk soon of Elbridge Colby.
But I ask you to hold this rope,
as no postmodernist conceit.
My weight will rip inside your armpits
and I’ll sway like a corpse
back and forth on blind depths
too lightless even for black, too deaf
for wet echo. There’ll
be a time when you let go,
in pain beyond a choice. But
the rope is not suicidal. I can fly
here evenly for a time. I will list
some faces of suicides: Grace
or Joan Maas perhaps who at first
thought writing was a brook
to refresh and for respite. But
this is not the end of Childe Roland.
There is one of you, not a mass
in gloating darkness on a mountain.
Have you heard of Elbridge Colby?
We will move from my state,
as I do in truth to survive,
to the personal and worldly.
Tacitly condoned by the New York Times,
Democratic Party, Colby who was ‘Joint
Under Secretary in charge of strategy
and developing the force’, has written
for the Council of Foreign Relations
that the War on Terrorism is gone
and that we will go nuclear again
against Russia and China. The Council
know they can contain anything.
Hold the rope.
I will fall from my state
without numbers without hope
without promise without threat
to the personal and worldly.
We can talk about Elbridge Colby.


‘What Did They Do with the Bits?’

Princess Diana woke up in Theme Park Nirvana, drowsy and pretty
next to Mother Teresa and flushed with curiosity. The Park
was closed for repairs but people came, went, happily through
the wide side gate. She and Teresa watched and waved
to them. In life, much as she loved her, she had suspected
at times that Teresa was a star-fucker, but now she knew
that not to be the case: star-fuckers always pick the wrong
people they think stars and Teresa had picked right ones. She
could discuss anything with her, and now was fascinated
with the death of Dodi’s cousin Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi
Consul in Turkey. She explained: ‘Dodi’s mother was the sister
of the Arms Dealer Anan Khashoggi, and Anan was Jamal’s
Uncle. Jamal was involved with a lot of arms and CIA stuff
before he went home to the Washington Post. Why do
you think the CIA didn’t warn him the Saudis would snuff
him at the Consulate?’ She had merry eyes, as if she drew
Teresa’s attention to an enticing chessboard. Or maybe
Monopoly – she’d taught it to Teresa. Teresa said: ‘They
may not have thought the Saudis would be so obvious.
But the Saudis would have been the priority to please
because of the Crown Prince working with Israel against
Iran and everybody wants the Yemen oil…’ Diana
interrupted: ‘But the Crown Prince’s a fruitcake, bumps off
and tortures all his rellies. And the CIA has another
Prince they want to replace him with. And of course
that is meant to embarrass Trump. So poor old Jamal
was strangled and dismembered. The Turks probably
think the U.S. will soften sanctions and that Russia
will support them because the Russians always adore
an opportunity. What did they do with the bits, do you
think, the Saudis?’ Teresa was a bit behind on that story:
‘I thought they found him in a well?’ ‘No, that was phony.
The Turks are drip-feeding the news cycle for concessions.
Now they say he was dissolved in acid, but I don’t know
if the Saudis would do that – they’re into public display,
if only among themselves. The Prince surely
would have wanted the writing-hand for a souvenir.’
Teresa was tuned in to Diana’s relish for lateral facts.
She asked, ‘What music do you think the surgeon
they flew in to cut up the body was listening to?
On the tape apparently he told the team he always
puts on earphones when he is dissecting. I thought
there was a problem for strict sects in liking music?’
‘They’re not all that strict in private, apparently.
The scotch in the royal safes is Johnny Walker.
Dodi can tell you anything about them.’ Teresa
became uneasy. She did not like to think of Diana’s
dying, although Diana would speculate enthusiastically
about it, as on any other thing. She knew, however,
the topic saddened Teresa, and anyway Teresa
had known too much in general of death. Her affection
for Diana was a desert thirst for water. More than distraction,
here the workings of the world were precious breath.

-Jennifer Maiden


First published in Rochford Street Review, ‘brookings in fur’, ‘Rope’ and ‘What Did They Do with the Bits?’ will be included in Jennifer Maiden’s forthcoming collection brookings: the noun.

Jennifer Maiden photo Katharine Margot Toohey
Jennifer Maiden, Penrith, N.S.W., 2018. photographer: Katharine Margot Toohey.

Jennifer Maiden was born in Penrith, NSW. She has had 29 books published – 23 poetry collections and 6 novels. She has won 3 Kenneth Slessor Prizes, 2 C. J. Dennis Prizes, overall Victorian Prize for Literature, Harri Jones Prize, Christopher Brennan Award, 2 Melbourne Age Poetry Book of Year, overall Melbourne Age Book of Year, and ALS Gold Medal. She was shortlisted for Griffin International Poetry Prize. In 2018, Quemar Press published her Play With Knives quintet of novels, Appalachian Fall poetry collection and Selected Poems: 1967-2018. Quemar will publish brookings: the noun in 2019.


Featured Writer Jennifer Maiden: excerpts from Appalachian Fall, Play with Knives: Five, and Selected Poems: 1967-2018
Featured Writer Jennifer Maiden: Biographical Note

An excerpt of Jennifer Maiden’s forthcoming collection brookings: the noun is available for download on Quemar Press.


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