Winter 2004

Justin Lowe


Justin Lowe Born in Sydney in 1964, Justin Lowe has lived and worked all over the world.  He has published three collections of poetry, one novel, and had songs recorded by artists as diverse as The Whitlams, The Impossibles, and Sydney jazz diva Lily Dior. He writes reviews for the award-winning Red Room Radio Project, broadcast nationally through Eastside Radio in Sydney and is currently working on a screenplay for a Sydney production company. His novel Hang on St. Christopherwas released in late 2003. He is currently working with Sydney radio station fbi 94.5 to put poetry to air throughout 2004.
Sultan Mehmet Receives a New Set of Quills    

The jackdaw is a violent bird a little unsteady on its feet unsure of its size unable to quite fix the parameters of its world, it builds its nest in early spring out of stolen moments snatched glances sighs caught on its graceless wings, in northern Ethiopia the jackdaw is chased off as soon as it lands, Schwabia also, the Armenian uplands, Georgia and the lush Hungarian plains, on the island of Madagascar they have only heard of the jackdaw through the thin lips of the Portugese who warned of its evil never to meet its steely gaze as though the bird's arrival on the island was imminent, but the Latins fuss and the jackdaw mercifully has never ventured that far south, the Great Turks have a recipe for jackdaw attributed to Saladin who liked to hunt them with his hawks, the Arabs do not eat birds as a rule perhaps due to their abiding reverence for the sky, they are a strangely passionate inveterate people whose greatest wish seems to be wisdom peace and prosperity for all the world, the Chinese have no strong opinion on the jackdaw except that it steals from south-facing windows and will brain itself to death if locked in a cage




It's been quite a while since I worked a room
I mean really worked one, trailing
my designated fall-guy who knew to flap
his ears on cue, dance the silly dance
throw down a satin glove or two

I would cruise the circle like a second hand
my conversation easy as wind in a wheat field
(lots of chaff lots of broken whispers )
there are two types of people
you may have heard me say
the honest citizen and the one they grant a day

and as my trusted fall-guy held his breath
awaiting his cue to extinguish all precedent
I would play the aloof magician dusting off his hat
toying with a stolen time piece
until the room had told me everything I asked of it
and more sometimes, just like that

I was like a golden tap whose purpose is to stand
cold and gleaming at the end of time
whenever the drip felt like dripping I was there
or the fall-guy felt like falling




Justin Lowe: Poetry
Copyright © 2004 The Cortland Review Issue 25The Cortland Review