Observed constraints

This house I am temporarily inhabiting has so many walls.
We fought for our freedom to build.
Difference between a wall and a fence: you can see through a fence.
Which is crueler?

This is nonsense; this is a lie; this is a paradox; this is a theorem.
Once I got free I wanted back inside.
In the prison things were calmer after the razor wire was installed.
You have to know the gate and how to get a key.

I will not call them laws; I will call them observed constraints.
I could climb it without much difficulty.
Freedom is the fluid swirl of a complex system obeying its mathematical laws.
Dignified persons do not climb it.

In my old country some people are remembering how to build the old walls.
Everything we build is subject to entropy.

First published in Creatrix 50, Septembeer 2020

For perspective

On a pale green wall
in electric sunlight
three china ducks
fly up and away

For perspective the leader
has been made small,
the last in line made large

They work their brown wings,
orange feet tucked,
blue faces stretched out
on white-ringed necks

Though they fly all day
and half the night
they stay in our murky sky

First published in Westerly 65(1), July 2020

Pause Breathe Listen Act — poem and video of Jackson reading it

Pause Breathe Listen Act

13 February 2020

As Parliament sits in its hilltop house, we spread
our banners out on the steps: CLIMATE EMERGENCY.
PAUSE BREATHE LISTEN ACT. We meditate
there for two hours. Traffic noise like thick smoke
rises from the city below. I hear you say:

some day. Some day, when all these cars are electric,
the city will be so much quieter. We’ll hear the birds —
all the birds, and the small people creeping
in the bushes. Some day, when these vehicles use renewable
energy… No. Not only that! When fewer

vehicles run. When people share, and live
closer — closer to work, closer together,
closer to you — some day, we’ll be able to breathe.
Even at peak hour, the people by the main road,
in the cheap flats, will breathe clean silent air.

Some day, sitting on this hill, Parliament will be
a place of listening, as it is for us today.
An Act of Parliament will be an act of the people,
and the people — black, brown, white, furred,
feathered, scaled, barked — will collect, and pause

in gratitude. Your words seem ridiculous. I don’t know why
I’m writing them down — but in the noise of all these cars,
these petrol, diesel, LNG motors, charging
about emitting, it’s hard to say what’s possible.
So some day… some day… some day. And may it be soon.

First published in Letters To Our Home: Creative Reflections on the Climate Crisis, Follow That Cat Publications 2020
Published on YouTube by The Poetry Archive, 2020