The TV won’t stop jabbering; even while muted, captions blare. The phone won’t stop prophesying doom; the computer is its own cacophony; the Kindle idles; I move between devices like an old dog desperate for reassurance. Take all the power away and still I can’t turn off—not while an invisible killer is invisibly everywhere, which is a feeling I have had for as long as I can remember. It’s on everyone’s lips, this stupid language. I’m a poet and I shouldn’t be exhausted by what fuels me—speech, where it meets song—yet I long for silence or at least an unexpected sound. Anything other than another day of jabs. The metaphor here is a fist. Line up for your quick, sharp blow. Do not duck or weave. Resist a lifetime of conditioning. It was developed in a lab. Get it at the chemist, or your local GP, or pop-up jab hub. Your life, our lives, depend on it. Copping the hit. Coppers everywhere. On horses, in helicopters, heaped around our houses. You know the ones. Go get jabbed. We don’t have enough fists, we don’t have enough jobs. Everyone is essential. Except for the usual exceptions, of course. You know the ones.
Don’t worry, I’ve been dosed twice, I’m used to being knocked around, I’m ready for the next painful sensation. I line up at 11am to learn again the limits of my lock up, the cause of the lock down, how we’re being swamped with Asians—no, boats, no, sorry, cases, it’s cases now—and my uncle calls me to say don’t take the vaccine, the jab is a joke, illness an illusion, he heard Pauline Hanson calling it out on the radio. Funny that. In 2017 she called Islam a disease that Australia had to be vaccinated against. Ban the hijab! I guess she was using a metaphor, a vehicle, to drive meaning from one place to another, to drive Muslims from here to not. As the great Syrian poet Adonis notes, ‘Metaphor transcends: just as the language of metaphor goes beyond itself to something less accessible, so it goes beyond the reality which it is talking about … in its very nature metaphor is an act of rejection.’
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