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Poetry

Poetry | Elsewhere here

1

What is the colour
of the world?
The bush flame?

And how should I begin?

With phantoms
like portents
a blowtorch on the roadhouse
the pity blues
dogs don’t let up bragging.

In the aftertaste of mourning
are bankrupt sermons ‘twit twit twit’

as the blackbird’s
night trade sharpens
into sorrow.

J’écrivais des silences, des nuits, je notais l’inexprimable.

What sound
is without fault?

Nocturnes harangue
or bluff the summer’s morale.

I no longer have any excuse
for epigrams but they trail behind me.

Each time the coda crumbles
I sanctuary it.

My ligaments seize.
The sound of floorboards mocks me.
The house of labour

turns me loose.
I am the trouble of what I write.

 

2

Phantoms from treetops
fall like footprints
the brightness delaying
as beginnings do.

It’s a disagreement with time
and the place of things.
A diurnal shimmer.

Noon melts into darkness.
I wrote silences and nights

We’re preoccupied or helpless.
Hectic broadcasts and think tanks
are the only conversation.

Is sound our fault?

Is there some other source, a charm
a new style we swing on a catwalk
like a charlatan with his magical stutter
with prescriptions for elsewhere.

Something grabs me in passing
a syllable, a sound that becomes one word then another.

I recorded the inexpressible

This isn’t retreat but utterance
over ego, and the fierce doors of this house

turn my trouble loose.

 

3

Eucalypt litters
daydream.

The summer night sky
turns into view.

Buds have become moments.

Flowerbeds spread
sunshine’s rattle.

Pollen begins to drown
and there’s a syllabic noise on the breeze.

Each new dream twitches
like a green twig.

We break, we slide, we shift.
We have secret loves
we hide away
in poems.

A kind of sanctuary
a kind of tolerance
a charge on the soul (if that’s what you call it).

It feels like whiplash or a liquor never brewed
a springboard, a new enzyme, desire

that drags you out of spasms in your sinews.
It’s not a fault of sound, but a beginning

once begun continues without too much mockery.
lets every irony echo

—there is nothing that is just one—

Just as dawn chorus is not one. Even
single things rescue each other

and elsewhere is also here.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes:

‘And how should I begin?’ – T.S. Eliot, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’
‘twit twit twit’ – T.S. Eliot ‘The Waste Land’
‘J’écrivais des silences, des nuits, je notais l’inexprimable.’ – Arthur Rimbaud, ‘A Season in Hell’ (my version in English in section 2)
‘a liquor never brewed’ – Emily Dickinson, ‘I taste a liquor never brewed’ [214]

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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Jill Jones was born in Sydney and has lived in Adelaide since 2008. Recent books include Wild Curious Air, A History Of What I’ll Become, Viva the Real, which was shortlisted for the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Poetry and the 2020 John Bray Award, and Brink. In 2015 she won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry for The Beautiful Anxiety. Her work has been translated into Chinese, French, Italian, Czech, Macedonian and Spanish.

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