Adrienne Jansen

Adrienne Jansen

Adrienne Jansen has published much more fiction and non-fiction than poetry, but poetry remains the magical place. Later in 2016, her second collection of poems, Keel and Drift, will be published.

“Both these poems came from watching people. That’s where many of my poems come from.”


The waiting room

There are yellow gerberas
beside the magazines.
Among the panes of frosted glass
is one clear square of window
and he is bobbing and peering
to see through it. His wheelchair
is the wrong height. His cap dips
as though in obeisance, but it’s frustration.
Everything is the wrong height now.

She is sitting beside the magazines.
She smiles at him. He glances
at her two good legs.
He doesn’t know her liver’s packing up,
she’s looking down the barrel of a gun.
She catches his glance, and gives him a sly wink,
he takes off his cap and rubs his shiny head.

Sun slants through the clear glass square.
The window sill is bright with happiness.

Skills honed to such an edge

He rolls his own as delicately
as if the paper was gilt leaf.
This one is particularly thin.
He teases shreds of tobacco
along the paper, eking out
the last of the fifty grams.

He smokes on the porch,
an amphitheatre of houses
as his spectators,
each with their baggage
of smoky wallpaper, stacked-up bottles,
five TVs, or four cars on the lawn
–all the addictions of our neighbourhood.

At certain times of day their windows glint
with longing. He doesn’t notice.
He leans against the door
savouring this thrifty cigarette.
He runs his fingers through his hair
cleanly dyed half-red, half-black,
then flicks his stub into the garden
with nonchalant precision.

First published takahe 87
August 2016