By Jacob Polley

Jackself is tapping
fractals of ice, ice
ferns and berries of ice,
onto windowpanes and door handles, doorsteps,
grass blades and the postbox as he walks
the November village after midnight

     he’s wearing his homemade thousand-milk-bottle-top
winter suit,
complete with epaulettes
of copper wire, and the lametta wig
he’s kept all year in the Auto-Arctic Unit
that hums in the cellar beneath Lamanby

     but it’s hard going, all this tapping every boot-scraper
and hubcap, and 3 a.m. finds Jackself
with his silvery head
in his hands, slumped on the unspun roundabout
among the gallows-poles of the moonlit playground,
the stars grinding on above him
     his suit tinkles as he shivers

               would it really all go to shit
if he went home before sunrise, leaving untouched a gutter-trickle
here or a windscreen there
     fuck it
              Jackself wants a hot chocolate and a digestive biscuit
                    he wants his bed
and doesn’t need to be doing this
cold scrollwork,
this archiving
of air bubbles
and tatty leaves

he hauls himself to his feet, gives
the roundabout a heave
and crunches across the grass           but who’s this weaving down the empty road
wearing snow-globe deely boppers, a mantle of tinsel and gauntlets and greaves 
of kitchen foil

     it’s Jeremy Wren,
waving a glitter-sprinkled wooden spoon
at the wing-mirrors of parked cars and the street lamp’s
long case, baking them in frost
     you look a proper sight, Jackself says
          Wren’s weeping the lucid mask that’s welding to his cheekbones
               help me, he says, keep everything just as it is


A Friday poem for cold winter mornings from Jacob Polley's Jackself

One of the most original books of poetry to appear in the last decade, Jackself spins a kind of 'fictionalized autobiography' through the many 'Jacks' of our folklore, legend, phrase and fable - everyman Jacks and no one Jacks, Jackdaw, Jack-O-Lantern, Jack Sprat, Cheapjack and Jack Frost. 
At once playful and terrifying, Jackself once more shows Polley as one of the most remarkable imaginations at work in poetry today.

Jacob Polley's Jackself is out now. 


Watch Jacob reading 'Every Creeping Thing' from Jackself.


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