Amy Jackson

Writings 2003

Not Junk

Nothing here is wasted
Metal reclamation
It’s returning to its elemental state
Metal scrap sorted by type
Graceful black-gray cranes grasp
Claspfuls of scrap to magnets
Then let them fall to Earth
With a satisfying crash
Blow torches spark and glow
Among dark piles to be recycled
Cars trucks dumpsters
Coils rotors springs

The rain keeps the dust down
The Cumberland River so high
The barges are stalled
So we’re all backed up
They call it the Scumberland
No dead bodies today

In a golf cart over mud puddles
Bouncing hard hats
Safety glasses
She says better wear your boots
She says don’t ever wash the mud off your boots
Don’t look at the welding torches
We stop for me to photograph
Erotic twisted copper ribbons
Bales of rusted sheet metal
The odd machine with the leather pump
Headed into a lime green rectangle
Parsons, TN handwritten on a piece of plywood
Between gray and orange shapes
You know I’m all over that

Speed Limit Five Miles sign
They started a fire
Black toxic smoke headed toward me
Shift and ride to apocalyptic
Turquoise and teal pieces of lost machines
With the old General Hospital up on the hill
The men in brown burn suits
And black welding masks
Like I’m a ghost
Like they’re ghosts staring back
Field grasses choked
Three rolls of film
It’s not a junk yard to me


©Amy Jackson


The Shredder


Consolided Freight now gone out of business
Trucks are being shredded to their aluminum source

Past the pile in the front the Shredder frightens
Having signed a death defying liability free waiver
The ground shakes
As I wait expectant frame
For the car to loom through the other side
But pieces flow small through the shute
As if there had been no car at all
So there was no click for the shutter
But the ground shook, oooh, yeah

They watch after me
When trucks come or beep, beep, beep, beep
Or reminding me later that a crane
Was working the other side of the pile
Oh, but you would’ve said

The people who make film must love her
He says five rolls later
What I found I can’t describe
Again the crane with it’s grasping
But this time feeding the Shredder
The dump truck used in a pushing motion
Backing up
Where was my Tonka truck back when?
I’ve got it now vicarious nods to the operators

Engine block stripes
The El Dorado shattered and bent burgundy
This purple that red the orange film with the sun
Behind it
The shells from Fort Campbell spilling
Safe but not seeming so
Reminders of all that waste
The car parts were stamped from a pattern
The pattern framed the Nashville skyline forward and back
Back and forward I couldn’t decide but laughed
Admiring the Batman building and carmaker alike
And inside the clean dumpster they were sculpture
Silver air filter repetitions
The gray metal black numbers yellow scribbles
Simple shapes of rusted pieces
Deserts painted random rustings
Spraypainted yellow red and shocking blue
Around the hole that was loss
All of loss there in one place
But what will you see?

Seven thirty this morning with the video
on a dustwindy day and the Shredder broken
but everyone amiable and cars piled up
apple red flaking 67 Lincoln Continental without a hood
waiting by the pile
a jungle green Dodge Dart from the seventies
with a similar forward air slid off
the tow truck available 24 hours
another truck with metal framing
framed the yellow crane
that used a pile of metal balled up
just to dust the lot clean

still pictures throughout getting closer
to the Lincoln's curved race chrome trim,
ghosts came out and said, "not this one,no
not this one" but there was nothing i could do

crushed cars atop one another neatly blocked
and waiting to be fed up the belt
lined with black gears and bolts
all the way up to the rubber flapping top

the white car falling from its roof
from its own weight only to picked up
again and again until put in place
by the dexterous crane claw hand

You wouldn’t believe what people throw away
He said, eleven dollars an hour but I’m salaried
Two lawnmowers now at a thousand each
Just a little fixing up and they work just fine

Wide angle to the pile to be shredded
There is no detail to the complex it was beneath
Becomes tiny black unpainted bits
For reuse

On the way back to the car
One more no just one more really
Then the final laugh from God came
The word Grand from Am in the dirt
Yes, God
The shy motorcycle dragonfly headlight
The American flag, sunlight
Yes, that was grand
Come back anytime


©Amy Jackson

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The Lens


Looking through the lens
My eyes change with zoom
Startled by the rhythm of texture
Light and shadow up close
Or the way the wide angle
Found the breadth of the reflection
Of the ivy tree gnarled in the glass building’s shine
There are other worlds from what we see

The lens changes me
So that
Looking out without it
I fall in love with everything
Knowing close up and wide
It marvels the inside

The way before a glass of wine
Would send me zooming senses
Into the dark of night from my chair
Becoming a ghost to others at the table
Inexpressibly absent
Or inexpressibly present
I’m not sure which
Part of the hourglass I become
But time becomes recorded
As if each pulse of me
Speaks to the pulse of life itself
To every life alive
And possibly certain unnamed ghosts
And unknown children
Even cronopios
To everyone who is secretly
Yearning to take a dose
Of something MORE
To each of us openly yearning
For beauty and meaning
Even deeper than beauty is
When we know the joy of it

The camera lens
shows me that surface
Of night I slip beneath
Like becoming nuder
Than nude is bare essense
Becoming the one eye
In the one lens
That can focus on the atom
Or the universe
At will

I’m glad to show you what
I find there
Beyond the place
Where you have wondered
Where I have gone
And what I could have meant
By disappearing so

Amy Jackson

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Breathing Flight


Constrain resample bicubic
Mohawk Aladdin Karakas Sheehy
An RV named Cheyenne
Heartland Express Lane
Open heart surgery Large Fries

A random echo
She becomes transfixed
In a wing curve
Flying alongside a bird in the car
The same wavelength is stirred

Field curve

I like to watch the birds
The way they float on the sky
Their sky goes all the way
To the ground
Their sky is the air we breathe
I am breathing the sky

At the river’s edge
Walking through my Mother’s maiden name
Walking through my middle name
Looking through to the moon inside

you’ve got your inscrutable on
it’s your poker face wall
there is no map to map that blank
place where all the hurt is
what is your unnameable seed?
all the hope comes wrapped
in former losses
it can’t get out to anyone now
until the sound comes
and then you’re out wanting more
all light bright up in my face
so afraid of scaring you
i offer it up to touch that place
there are too many questions
surrounding your heart

let this little bird flutter there
whenever you want

crooked fences painted red
strewn with hothouse tuberose
where the summer’s dead

like the mouth of winter
is the open door
the warm home of a friend

Green light turned to red
Screaming train rails
Watching for the spirit that fell
She becomes her flight
Random Red X Random Y
Endless Caverns Next Right



Amy Jackson

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Dear Friends


It takes a while to find that place
Where we are close
where we shared our souls
But with enough time
It rises like bruises slowly

We all look around the table in denial
When the table is clear reality sinks in
We will not be this close again
Just like this
Just like always

You went away from us to the bridge
And we followed
You filled our hands with chrysanthemums
And daffodils
Each is a thought to let go of, you said
And the thoughts burst until slowing
Only to spurt again
Each with our own rhythm

I remembered candles
Floating at night down a river in Thailand
In a book of memories of a birthday
Finished just right
Except that this was light of day
Shimmering on the surface
One thought an upturned flower face
another face down wet with loss
all drifting down to the next bridge just the same

wondering who would find them
kissing the riverbank
some person going to the water in pain
only to find dozens of flowers
floating there

now we can’t hide from the loss
of coffees and meetings and college memories
The first tea ceremony
Mocha Valenciana
shared struggles, excitements, inspirations
where we flowed up close
now we lose synch
until every movement hurts

I can’t say goodbye
You said with goodbye tears
It seems like it should go on forever
This place where our souls meet each time

All I know is that time slips and slips
Like each of those flowers
Where we are close and then drifting far
With pillows around our souls
To muffle the sound of pain touching pain
Joy touching joy
Holding close and letting go

Today your son
Still without teeth
And a piece of cheddar on his lip
Knew enough to hug me goodbye
With joy

All of us flowers drifting
I’m glad I was close in your hand for a time
May I bloom in your memory always
As you do in mine



Amy Jackson


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The Sun Got In


I am full of sun right now
bees zoomed up to say hello
"are you a flower?" "no"
what my Mother used to call weeds ...
wildflowers now blooming among grasses ...
they have been introduced

the sparrows made love all morning
on the telephone wire
the sweet male
nuzzling her neck from time to time

a rustling in the leaves
smooth snake two feet long
bright eyed yellow and black
his tongue wisped
and he was gone
the Robin just as bright
caught the eyeless worm

jet streams mixed with cloudforms
all bright white and blue canvas
(tomorrow it’s going to rain
two days from now it will be cold)

if i could have opened
every cell in the deepest part of me
i would have let in the warm wind
and sun at noon
when suddenly everything in bloom
sent out its scent ...

and coming back in
the phones ringing just the same
and the papers just as tall
but feeling full of light
i think the Sun got in after all


© 3/27/03

Amy Jackson

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Fresh Start


The walls blank canvases
Where all the posters were each year
A new world each new dorm room metamorphosis
Fresh starts slower now
The fear of compromise selling out burnout stagnation
I’ve decided to make a change

The last night here
The last morning:
Yesterday I dreamed of white kitchen curtains
This morning yours are bright beside our morning coffee
Your new furrows deep and soft and ready Earth for Spring
I walked out bare into a new day
for violets waking beneath my feet
I’m not so heavy that they won’t bounce back
They’ve adapted by now to the ways of traffic

It ends on the last day
It begins years ago and today
Leaving country to find country
Leaving city to find city
Finding both to the right degree
Welcome to my paradox
Welcome to my alchemy

Longing and hunger I wake and sleep with
I’m learning how to name it
Have I named it right?
How to free it to fly from its burning
phoenix sphinx?

Greeting the monkey at the bottom of the glass
Finding the place where
The rainbow refracts the light of my soul
Where fears retract into a chill like stillness
Where fearlessness steels into a new rise
Where I laugh at myself and
Where I understand

Lost in a field of cars
Lost in the concrete mixer twisting slowly in the rear view
The entropy of the pavement
Why is it I feel at home here?
What is it that charges this space?
A rev I can’t define
Things done right
At the right speed
The right mix of mix
Of infinity to finite to Isuzu
Anonymous to the stranger
Where the voice is recognized before it is heard
And the look is known before knowing
With an edge to the anatomy
Of the unexpected sweet
To the salt in the spine

The adrenaline of now
The chocolate of that never
The future of possibility
Where all things collected
Are suspended in boxes
For a time in time
Where the frame is clear for a second
Before leaving upon entry
Before the clock goes off and the news comes in
Real stillness comes
With its brief luminosity deepening
A home inside wherever is

Where my hand is outside the car
To feel that flow
To catch that spark in the wind
Of my soul



Amy Jackson

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A Dream for Ida Lee


I dreamed this fence two years ago
and here it is now, stark unknown remembered
with her running along behind me
telling me don't go

but it was a different ghost met on leaving
I can feel the implacable bite of eyes from here

what in her voice systatic acoustic electric synthetic
skritches the soul into feeling live
soothes and smooths what it touches

where it mourns
where no hand catches in the door
where it breathes

the fence curves neat and brown for Ida Lee now
to mark the green of a Spring I also dreamed
but couldn't imagine

you can get as close as you want
and you can't get close at all
every other time

your rocks let me fluctuate
your waves make me find bolster in myself
give and take

quisiera nadar en ti
emborracharme en tu mar
how combustible is the sea between us at night?

there is no beginning because there wasn't an end
but i'm looking for a starting place in your mouth
every time

what i know on waking isn't much more than before
but delight, delight
i feel your kiss warm light and surprise on my hip
this time the waves strong and lulled
with what precision love can swirl
an ache to be transformed into curling

the clouds became night's shifting Shenandoah
made foothills of all shadows in relation
and it became a mountain town

driving into a new day's Sun
you're driving into wide open wonder
and the Ladybugs are back



Amy Jackson

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Just Love

the wind has your signature
on it
caught in the crosswinds

before you became the drug
clouds, the Metro and the girl had my smile
he had the girl
you spoke to the shock
woke up the deep
rocked the raw, jagged, wandering wondering numb
did i ask for ice cream? or was it blood then?

give another chance, give blood it says
just then on the bumper
in front of me
weaving a little to write it down
you say why and me agreeing
getting wispy-eyed with Billie
stirring a whirlpool in an absent drink
in a dark corner driving
the one that drives
into the night, deep
where my brothers lost the curves
speeding past right
yeah, that one
what is her peace?
and what past the pattern not to be
repeating it?

we woke when the rains had lifted
to a green lusche and juicy
like whenever was before the droughts came
where the light spiders left their electrical lines

to see the Sun again
i forgot not to stare
it's like looking at you
some kind of blind that fades in time
to apricot
where i can look at you straight again

teacher says where there is peace
where there is not peace do not go

at this rate, then
just love, now
just love
is where we meet


Amy Jackson

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Median Wild

i’m off to live in the medians
in strips and stripes of wild among highways
with the sparrows, squirrels, mourning doves and grackles
and what all else lives in what remains

chaos licking smooth cell structure pulsing
(red roses nine ninety nine a dozen
a hand reaches in the dark for a coffee cup
slap the wrist and pump it up)
taking vacations in the sky



Amy Jackson

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Shock Loop

tossing a night full of bits of sleep
waking to shake the dead hands
free from the sea where dreams live

shaking her does no good
she won’t wake until it passes
and there’s no telling

the warrior wakes instead
grim and wary of softness and gauze
tired of war and prepared

but there is no fight
defenses drop back through
the black hole where fire breathes

Sam knows all about it
sings about bullets and fire
black water and red lipstick

with the instricate embroidery
on the softest white cotton
the warrior relinquishes tears

now hands hold the pain of each
other knowing where waves have
tossed, and cross a circle of belief
in the sand

and the waves of shock come
back in



Amy Jackson

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Old Downtown Dream


to go downtown you have to go down
following the ladies with their sitter
she put glittering purple on their foreheads
down to the tops of their cheeks

we walk slowly where the old market was
they smile and nod to the old vendors
stop to admire peaches that aren’t there

i have to go past them to go downtown
to get back to where i was
and then i am there

where i was it was June Sun
here it is still Winter
for lack of it
the old tenements are empty
the ice so thick it curls
off the walls like wax
black-eyed windows howl
people struggle along in the cold
from the places where somehow
they still live

i have to stand on top of the dump
to see my way out
where the police station is
where the entry to light is guarded

the dump moves
it is full of animals who have lost
their habitat
the feral ones attacking the tame
you can drop off strays with the police
or leave a memorial to those who died
from the bite

up top again i know access to light is bought
how much for each degree of shine?


Amy Jackson

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White's Ferry

you know all the back roads
like the back of your hand
the road has become part
of your hands on the wheel
to and fro from day to home

i found a country road
to take me home from the city
two lanes without streetlights
just dark green enveloping trees
on either side
where mists rise softly in lower fields
thick grasses stretch
fireflies lazy up
and diaphanous clouds dress
tonight's full moon
all the way to White's Ferry
where the Gen. Jubal A. Early floats us
across the Potomac flooded and strong
with a single cable that slaps the surface pulling
without a sound
and no lights on either side of the river banks
as if there was no such thing as real estate


Amy Jackson

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Human Linear

in awe of the perfection of the straight line
its rare improbable logic

more like a bee line
to the flowering trumpet vine
follows a dance the last bee left
along a trail of other flowerings
follows with joy diversions
winds and chance encounters with
other bees

she wakes every day with her head of curls
and a dog named Pedrito who she saved
who makes her laugh at seventy three
her bright mind still accumulating tidbits of fact
and i wonder that a million bees are not
at her door each morning

these other lines are pure force
that disintegrate in complications
that cost other people’s lives

another skunk died today for your sins
another spread its scent in your name
but it will never match the rot of your intent

would it follow your every step
in perfect tailored black
oh, but today your affect of speaking
to the people in a political tent
you leave a trail no bee would follow

and yet i admire the perfection of a line
to the people for real
that would save lives instead
that would disintegrate in complications
but whose net result would be a flowering


Amy Jackson

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To Ideals

see thru world
walking on this hallowed grass
i wonder if Jefferson wanders beside us
his spirit ghostless
homeless now they've gone so very far

Coming Soon: The Hall of Irony

the expectant family huddled in the taxi
they've come to look for the history of ideals
in this sculptured town

where the flags are always at half mast
for the homeless vets who wander this grass with me
in desert and jungle camouflage
asking for the time

inside one of these marbles
i found the abstracts
Jackson Pollack found one face out of two lovers
splattered entwined on black and peach

on my way back out to the car
through revolving doors i'm greeted

ain't nothin beat the sky


Amy Jackson

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Morning Song


i'm sleeping inside brittle foil
the regene tolerates the subside
and flowers through aluminum crisp

i wake and know that you two
have found a snuggle
to collapse your denials into
i'm happy that each of you
will get your strokings
turn back to back to
protect your denying why
i'll encourage your positive signs

the bright blue morning expands white wisps
and jet tails cross criss
coffee ticks up the meter of time

and in my soul deep you are always
unknowingly keying the chords
the moon pulls the waves and i find myself
lacing the shore


Amy Jackson

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Where the Winds Meet


The wind won't stop beating the trees
Tearing up the strips under the eaves
Kept us both up you outside for a smoke
First time we spoke and only to run inside
For fear of flying objects but shared warm

What was inside is out and outside in
Those calm warm days inside from then now
Outside those ripping winds
Make me calm into tomorrow knowing they rage
With heat meeting cold finding no middle temp

Left with a sound I make like colors soaked through skin
A howl a yowl and a bleeding out where I come from then
I've found the woman I am to be blended in
Ghosting melodies resounding shudders quake

Somehow stilling even firm entranced
Where for fire red and primal
now a blue fire burns with blues
and I know grieving and storms passing past
passing and calm in that



Amy Jackson

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