Author Spot/Adam Aitken
A Crate of Fortune Cookies
By Adam Aitken
Look - how this instrument predicts the death of prediction.
The evenings it projects
are long and calm as summer solstice.
What the instrument predicts,
is longer and calmer than it ever was
before the birth of the Instrument.
The sun will rise, like a head
sticking up over a parapet.
The instrument predicts this.
Before you, is sees
Your world, as the instrument says, will spin
ever slower than we can dance.
Dance then, quicker and more anxiously
around the ash of what was a once our fire.
Dial up the radiator full blast.
Watch for the poisoned inbox.
A new North Wind will freeze-dry the frontier.
Pull tight the shawl across your shoulders.
For they will arrive, the painted warriors.
With thier Instrument they
prepare the oracle, consult the lunar planting calendar.
When Venus enters Scorpio add your Scarab to the broth.
On the waxing moon the fringe dwellers shall emerge
to pick wild thyme and procreate
in the shade of a revered tractor.
Go there with this Instrument
and you will receive gratification.
On the 27th day of Leo a lawyer must disinfect your paperwork.
On the 28th cost-effectively analyze your risk profile,
On the 28th re-tune your spectra.
In Autumn the planets will line up with the agents.
In Hanoi they will steal your bike, as the Guide warns.
Do not be distracted by a waiter.
In Dili the market’s cornered by Australian spies
– advise you invest in build-for-rent teepees
in the shadow-state of the infamous.
In Shenzhen you can still make a million and take up Scotch.
Do morning mantra for damage control.
Prepare for tediously long graduation.
Inspiration costs will rise.
Continue to punctuate - your enemies
will respect and fear your rigour.
Allow some fat and other sacrifices
to migrate past the frontier.
Mark each decoy with a code.
Any day now, my friend, our plotters will arrive.
They’ll be looking for the last surviving palm reader.
Avoid all offers of pickled cabbage.
Recycle everything in multiples of three.
At some point live in the moment,
but not just now.
Adam Aitken was born in London and lives in Sydney. He spent his early childhood in Thailand and Malaysia. He has been a recipient of the Australia Council Paris Studio Residency, and was Visiting Distinguished Professor at the University of Hawai’i Manoa. He co-edited the Contemporary Asian Australian Poets anthology (Puncher & Wattmann). His memoir One Hundred Letters Home (Vagabond Press) was published in 2016 and was listed for the ASAL gold medal. Archipelago, his collection was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Award and the Prime Minister’s Literature Prize in 2018. He teaches Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney. Revenants is his latest poetry book which is published by Giramondo Publishing 2022.
Poet Adam Aitken is the winner of this year’s $15,000 Patrick White Award.
About his writing he says:--
All my writing refers to hybrid identity, as I my mother is Thai and my father was Anglo-Celtic. In the early 80s I spent some months living with my Thai family, and I became acutely aware of how I was Australian, but I also felt a bit Thai. I am fascinated by the experience of “being not one, but both”. this is not always a positive situation to be in, especially in societies that fear the ‘contamination’ of other cultures. But cultural hybridity is for me a normal part of modernity – especially in a multicultural society like Australia’s. it is no longer exotic to be Asian-Australian, but I still write with this in mind. With the memoir of my parents, the subject is their original attraction to each other, and their subsequent drifting apart. The “hybridity” could describe the way each influenced and changed the other, and how my father, especially, overcame a very Anglo-Celtic upbringing and came to appreciate Southeast Asian cultures. The story is also about my mother’s own story of becoming a ‘Europeanised” Asian migrant in London, and then in Australia.