Jakob Ziguras


Cherry Blossoms

The old lace-maker makes another pass,
A ghostly pattern guides the bobbin’s path
As cherry blossoms grow on nothingness.

In abstract lines she plots the same old graph—
Connecting nodes as featureless as stars,
Her vision writes its dainty epitaph.

She takes the stripes of age and weaves the scars,
Reworking every year the same motif,
And prisons time behind these fading bars—

As tender as the veins upon a leaf.
Monotony made fecund through elision
That floods the threads with sap, however brief.

She squints a bit, rejoicing in misprision,
And sees the year renewed, as every bud,
Escaping the perfection of precision,

Is trampled down by children into mud.


Cleaning House


The things we keep, the things we throw away,
The boundless waste of vague utility;
The uttered words, the words we fail to say;
The child’s first breath, and breath’s complicity

In all the fine evasions, in between
The two extremes of utter nakedness—
Like child and mother lying skin to skin—
The distance that defines all tenderness.

We make provisions, we make love, we talk;
We analyse, to limit and control,
The abstract line of life as pale as chalk.
The movement of a hand has made it whole,

As it reveals a house, a tree, the sun
In yellow crayon, without sentiment;
As it conceals, when house and tree are gone,
The bone-white void beneath its testament.


We sorted through your father’s case of stamps—
A grave of faces marked by history,
The victims of the vast bureaucracy
Of distance, waiting under station lamps.

Each one of these had planned to travel far,
Bearing a chain of copperplate to bind
Their distant kin within a common mind,
And yet were governed by a wayward star.

These leaves have ruined from the tree and rot
Burning as brightly as in any fall.
Old books lie open in the cluttered hall,
On poems that another age forgot—

Written in ardour, bitterness, or hope
That words outlive the fading ink of veins.
Love tears us open like an envelope,
And reads until a single word remains.


Vague shapes of dread, within the attic gloom,
Would rather serve in sunlight than be king
Of all this shadowy remembering.
You sort them in your younger brother’s room.

Though once the object of a fervent wish,
Obscure collectables now leave you cold.
You gently lift, and reverently fold,
Old school reports consumed by silverfish.

The mayflies scrawl on air their sanguine mark,
And spiders weave at night to catch the dew.
The autumn trees, now shielding me and you,
Are like tin soldiers rusting in the dark.

Outside, the sun completes his endless climb,
And pours slow honey on our industry—
Each generation’s sweet futility—
As native bees collect our wild Thyme.



Jakob Ziguras was born in Poland, in 1977, to Polish and Greek parents. He came to Australia in 1984. He studied fine arts before completing a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Sydney. His poetry has been published in Meanjin, Australian Poetry Journal, Mascara, Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry and Australian Love Poems 2013. His first collection, Chains of Snow, is published by Pitt Street Poetry. He was a finalist in the Newcastle Poetry Prize in 2011 and 2012 and won the 2011 Harri Jones Memorial Prize. He lives in the Blue Mountains and teaches philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.