Jal Nicholl

Jal Nicholl’s poetry has appeared in Retort Magazine, Stylus Poetry, Famous Reporter, Quarterly Literary Review SingaporeThe Diagram and Shampoo Poetry.






Conjecture what his studies were that year:

to ride a pony led by the harness

was far the largest part of his tuition.


Conjecture how he gathered in

the blackberry harvest; through what conceit

sucking, as he went, the juice of recognition.


Conjecture it was a rented domain¾

weevils in the grain-chute, dry vats in the dairy;

still, rule at that time was by divine commission.




On the Demolition of an Inner-City Housing-Estate


A discontinued pylon waves

Steel tendons that anneal

A stump that wont let go the earth.

And, strange to say, that steel


Calls to my mind the tentacles

An invertebrate puts forth

And thus, seemingly, on the sea

To again submerge the earth.


And the fact is theres little here

But suffers a sea-change,

And turns to something richthough far

From positively strange.


Ah! No more arguments by night

Over bail or heroin:

Pigeons and poverty alike

Have left on tattered wing.




And I will put my things away

As well, and throw away

All that I can of my life till now,

And set up house and stay


Where car-lots, fast-food and store-outlets

Are unevenly strewn

In clumps, like ethnic diasporas.

Ill learn to live alone


But still remain dissatisfied

As with a kiss on the cheek,

With the only answer you could give

To one who, for the sake


Of more than you acknowledge asks

Again: is my worth greater

Than my wages, the same, or less?

That you were of the latter


View then was clear, although you claimed

No answer could be found

To a question thatcould I not see?

Was patently unsound.




Evening Piece (After Houellebecq)


Outside the shopping centre

A crowd is on the boil;

A crippled pigeon doesnt ask

Whose tyger, or why so cruel,


But seeks the gutter; while, nearby,

A beggar holds his sign, and bears

The foreign students chatter

As saints submit to jeers.


I make my way down Swanston St.,

Passing electric signs

That point pseudo-erotically

Down stairs and back-lanes.


Oh, hi, Its Adeline;

I make my excuse, and hear catcalls

Directed at a Doric-skirted

Pair of school-age girls.


The economy flourishes;

I try to breathemy chest grows tighter;

And you will not appear.

I still love you, Rita.