Saturday, August 10, 2013

Jill Jones

Jill Jones is an Australian poet who has published seven full-length books of poetry including Ash is Here, So are Stars (Walleah Press, 2012), Dark Bright Doors (Wakefield Press, 2010), and Broken/Open (Salt, 2005). She has also published a number of chapbooks including Senses Working Out (Vagabond, 2012), Fold Unfold (Vagabond, 2005) and Struggle and Radiance: Ten Commentaries (Wild Honey Press, 2004). A new e-chapbook, even if the signal fails, is due from Black Rider Press in August 2013 and a new full-length work, The Beautiful Anxiety, is due from Puncher and Wattmann late in 2013. She lives in Adelaide.

From 1992, until now and planned for the near future, I will have at least 13 books, chapbooks, and e-chapbooks published. This accounting ignores a couple of limited edition artist books, one chapbook of previously published work and some ephemeral and semi-ephemeral publications. For this baker’s dozen, then, I decided to choose one poem each from these 13 works. Not necessarily the most anthologised, nor most commented upon, nor most representative poem of each book (not at all, in some instances), nor my own favourites, but a series of works that show some ways into my writing (of course, there is much that isn’t represented here). They range through dialogic, lyric and ekphrastic poems, and poems made from impure chance operations, or semi-collage and diaristic fragments, though not all this may seem apparent. Sometimes these poems are more a language of experience and at other times they are more language as experience, but not in a pure way in either sense. If one wants to make those distinctions (as I don’t). I originally arranged them in a chronological order but decided to undo that, to get away from the idea of ‘development’ in a linear sense, so they are presented in strict alpha order. And I resisted the temptation to change some of the poems for others once I saw how the order fell.

AFTERNOON GREY IN afternoon sounding
not like a sign but a soughing
which is white over the night shoulder
bent with market crash not soughing
not sighing and never sign anything
you download in the grey afternoon
but let it and let it out and letting go
something with beautiful grey sounding
more beautiful that is going beautiful
in the garden is sometimes red or
sometimes pink and fall leaves all petaline
where more rain predicts more rain and rain
that is lovely letting go of something
that clicks before a storm do not click
do not buy but let go before the night
storm over your shoulder beautiful and
waiting for the moon changes its large
light that is not and not grey nor slim
not an insert not alternative not faux simple
not resounding but the coming moon
that cycles with that enduring the wind
touches and it touches where you grey
impermanent sounding sigh in a lithe
shoulder before you go down into before
you petals leaves and leaves you

from Senses Working Out, Vagabond Press, 2012

Note: This chapbook consists of a series of untitled poems, mostly first drafted over a period of weeks in the summer of late 2010.

A Moon, A Myth, A Feeler

A moon so clear as a bright eye
A moped so clear as a broadcast eyesore
A mortal so clear as a bronze facsimile

A motive so clear as a bright failure
A motor so clear as a brutal falconer
A mound so clear as a budgie fandango

A mug so clear as a bright fault
A mule so clear as a brittle fawn
A multitude so clear as a brocade feast

A murderer so clear as a bright feather
A musician so clear as a brittle feeler
A myth so clear as a bronze fender

from Even as the Signal Fails, Black Rider Press, due August 2013 (e-chapbook)

Note: This poem is atypical of the overall style of poems in the book.

A White Boat

A moment sings your hard life
against the pier

A voice dreams your thought
your spirit with all its rot

Music moves through night
a city lodges in you

A figure walks alone
disturbing order

You say 'I've just one other sea
one land more than this'

but your corpse enters
reminiscent of all aphrodisiacs. 

Not every road is a possible road
since you ruined time

Each judgement has its secrecy
the shutdowns of therefore

Each possible way
will destroy and endure, only you

Even in that moment
the white boat is here, for you

from The Beautiful Anxiety, Puncher and Wattmann, scheduled late 2013

Driving Night Out

In suits, corners
on white-tie boulevard.

You pray for the barbarians
their knowledge, their verse
their surety of wild horses.

O the angst of insurance and facial hair!
O the desire for it all meaning nothing!
The zero within the frame.

Dealers and bouffant guys
fuck wheels
with drink and our lip gloss lies.

White necessity
in the caves
the heart

the passages of eyes.

from Struggle and Radiance: Ten Commentaries, Wild Honey Press, 2004 (chapbook)


dark extends
footsteps among secrets


In a dream swirl, the sleet of life.

A frost had grasped the glass.

Radar to alien, I am landing at last.

If my actions are flawed, this yawing kite.

My shadow, my mist, my doorway’s constant companion.

I sleep next to my sole skin & below space.

from Passages: Annotations, Ungovernable Press, 2010 (pdf chapbook)

Note: This pdf book is an abridged version of a longer unpublished work which is composed of lineated poetry and prose fragments. The above is one page from the 2010 chapbook version.


I’m sometimes very like me.
I can’t get rid of the
poor little nonsense!

What can self do
with such visions?

Look at everything
with eyes
skirting the obscene.

Push on through
tearing the robe
exciting suspicions.

Always holding a little figure
something striking
very like me.

from Dark Bright Doors, Wakefield Press, 2010

Heat in a Room

January soaks the hill with white sky
grass writes into blood and a river of heat sings

Music loads the morning with legends
an afterimage of crowds reaching into a room

Small dried packages of territory remain unturned
there is whispering outside under the redemption of intervals

Just as silence deciphers light
exchange rates cycle gently through conversations

And days draft me, breathing extinction
my skin a chassis of orange

As for the car, it shimmers into the raging sunset
then sort of erupts

(a kind of persistent hope that nobody gets caught)

The night’s hangers are loose in the closet
sleep is a projection, part of the weightlessness

It is impending – a delicate sense of the flange
it seems as though the room is small.

from Broken/Open, Salt Publishing, 2005

Mother I Am Waiting Now To Tell You

mother about the letters i never wrote
                                                the sirens outside batter my heart
and the fact i don't eat enough food
                                                reminding me i am hungry
all that heavy seductive stuff
                                                in the nights of new traffic in dreams
and i do not understand your eyes
                                                where there is so much blindness
the glare of your tenacity almost breathing
                                                i am struck down at the window
i have prayed to be that strong — resisting also
                                                death squads are squealing in backyards
but there is too much noise — two languages now
                                                spray painting names like manifestoes
like what you wanted me to be — like this
                                                i don't like the sound my fear makes
and like someone else who has my voice
                                                i talk to myself — begging that someone
who has my arms but speaks a different love
                                                will remember an answer to the enigma
which you have lost the words for
                                                i am waiting for them to tell me
i am waiting now to tell you

from The Mask and the Jagged Star, Hazard Press, 1992

Note: This poem can be read as one single poem, or as two separate poems, one down the left column and another down the right column.

Scratchings, Rust (excerpt from 'Where We Live')

Heaven, if you look up, isn’t black as it used to be. Our window is a prayer, and beyond, the line a day makes. We look out one morning into the way of streets, amongst magpie scurf, chasing bird mind.

Each scratch a water history.

The clear could be
what we’re waiting for.
Or we search
for different evidence
equal to
the same odd beauty
that’s more
than distraction.

A canvas of anxiety
inscribes walls
and metal
where birds
and people go over
paving and crossings.

Much is overwritten.
Much disappears in
telling the hours.

window beyond makes scratch
waiting beauty
walls birds over

from Ash is Here, So are Stars, Walleah Press, 2012

Note: ‘Where We Live’, a poem in six sections and containing sections within sections, was first published as a collaborative work with photographer Annette Willis in the anthology, The Material Poem, ed James Stuart, available as a free download. This version omits the visuals (colour photographs) and some explanatory text. Each section of the version in Ash is Here, So are Stars bears a title referring to the accompanying photograph in the original version.

The Green Dress (after ‘Snow White Joins Up’ by Klaus Friedeberger)

The desert erases regard, wind plays on.
A mirror looks back to the future which has no face.

I’m a player for the war outside.
My name has killed me, vaterland, vaster land, no escape.

Do not forsake me!
I’ve become the most beautiful green dress.

Maybe you would not recognise me
when the Johnnies come marching home.

from Fold Unfold, Vagabond Press, 2005 (chapbook)

Note: Klaus Friedeberger was born in Berlin in 1922 and arrived in England aged 16, five months before the outbreak of the Second World War. The following year, along with many German refugees, he was interned and was transferred to Australia aboard the troopship Dunera. He was interned in a camp at Hay in rural NSW. During his two years of internment, Friedeberger produced watercolours and drawings, together with Surrealist-inspired compositions, posters and scenery designs for stage productions in the camp, of which ‘Snow White Joins Up’ is one.

Train In Vain

The blue is vast and hot
       where is it taking us?

We, to be somewhere
       the platform, smoking summer.

The door swings only one way this time
       the writer was beaten by the past.

There is no driver on the train
       it is safe to travel.
Did the voice say that?

It’s a long climb to the outside
       mind the oleanders - save your children.

The air is sliced
       we would welcome it.

He is full of blue jeans
       there are those who would welcome it.

It’s the metal that stings
       but you could argue about the high rise.

There’s a little bleed in the cutting
       it goes brick by brick by brick.

There's nothing to be sought
       you won't come to anyway.

Yellow ribbons in her hair
       how excited can we get?

The Institute is red
       the face of time is silver.

Museum, its brass, the past
       we rush through underground.

If there are no exceptions to all of this
       please stand closer.

from Screens Jets Heaven: New and Selected Poems, Salt Publishing, 2002

When Planets Softly Collide

This is not a poem about dust,
there have been too many of those,
but may be about wind, who knows,
the remaking of deserts, endlessly,
when sand becomes a definition
of scale or boundaries or change
like weather squeezing out lines of heat
that drives from solid midnight freeze
up into the sweat pressure of midday.
These conditions are inescapable, no relief —
still there are flowers, stubborn and pink.

Yesterday, strangely, began with showers,
laying the heat demons down and out
for a moment and the air, wet
with the ghost of something old.
Whispers like clouds of aimless particles
which one day could form something solid,
whispers and the slight reverberation
of planets softly colliding,
showering each other with dust,
which they have been trying to avoid,
hoping for a poem about something greener.

As if rock didn't survive,
and dust didn't dance on air.

from Flagging Down Time, Five Islands Press, 1993

Where The Sea Burns

... et lux perpetua luceat eis ...

No-one dies of the cold here, they say,
and talk instead of fire and smoke,
dragon summer that consumed
matchbox houses, the abandoned village
which flourished once to the north.

Until fish began to die, they say,
all these twisted silver tongues
crying, crawling through shallows,
flapping at last on grey sand.

And you could smell it for miles, some said.
A few survived, dragging for days,
and disappeared into pools and lagoons where
there are lights over water at sunset.

But this is impossible, of course, nothing
lasts, nothing hopes under heat and
nothing ever dies of the cold, they say,
not in places, here and beyond, past
the cliffs to the north where the sea burns.

from The Book of Possibilities, Hale and Iremonger, 1997

Note: The Latin is taken from the Requiem Mass – ‘... and may perpetual light shine on them ...’. 
My source is Mozart’s.

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