Jill Jones

Jill Jones Poems

She's learning about the desert
where things are not as flat as they seem.
She needs the plain, the wind, scrub,
no longer believes mirages

Without roots and prefiguring
the shaping of ferns
bronze bright in the sun cleft
along a wet fault line

I have put my hand out to the word.
It’s been there for days. Hovering
between the newspaper and the television.

You’ve heard this story before –
becoming unravelled in Europe
or assaulted in some roadhouse
but bold as nipples and booted.

Fifteen minutes at the autobank, waiting for money,
and the nations stroll by with their children
and the new languages.
So many words for Saturday and shopping,

The snow was in the sun
There was a prick in garden
A truck jack-knifed the particulars
There was a smell of old gas

Where are your eyes?
Nothing has prepared us for this.

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

Music loads the morning with legends

The way you turn at night toward me
so I take your breath across my face, then
away. And I breathe you, back bare
as a beautiful open country, pale surface

To move slowly at the bench
and cupboards of a lit-up kitchen,
to watch a woman do this
and then walk on. To turn

Night’s sheet
weighs heavy
bearing the safety
of sleep

But to learn all there is in a street.
To treat the suburb’s noise as another lesson.
The amazement of traffic. Or celebrate
small terrors that balloon from locks and veins.

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

The night is kind tonight,
the sky is purple,
clouds are orange,
and planes fly away

They're restructuring reality again
but you have to sit and wait your turn
the transfers have been coming down for weeks
and another truckload of files

A hazy field
rain cast plummeting
plunge of stone hallways
to our bed’s name

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,

Air urges through my waking cells.
Day breathes thicker, houses exhale us.
We people the streets with our week time
dance, impatient with the tinnitus of hours.

It's not the birds that are spectres,
they come in afternoon, true,
swing by the air, song-filled passes,
that branches come to ground, falling


The traffic begins its wave,
the sky is threaded with exhaust,
the blind man has a ticket, your bag
is heavy today, the traffic is beautiful

Jill Jones Biography

Jill Jones is a poet and writer living in Sydney, Australia. In 1993 she won the Mary Gilmore Prize for her first book of poetry, The Mask and the Jagged Star (Hazard Press). Her third book, The Book of Possibilities (Hale & Iremonger), was published in 1997. It was shortlisted for the National Book Council 'Banjo' Awards and the Adelaide Festival Awards. Her fourth book, Screens, Jets, Heaven: New and Selected Poems, was published by Salt Publishing in 2002. It won the 2003 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry (NSW Premier's Literary Awards). Her fifth full-length book, Broken/Open was published by Salt Publishing in 2005. It was shortlisted for The Age Poetry Book of the Year 2005 and the Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize 2006. She served as a judge for the 1995 NSW Premier's Literary Awards and for the inaugural Broadway Poetry Prize in 2001.)

The Best Poem Of Jill Jones

The Desert

These settings of slow landscape change are characterised by the survival of forms inherited from the past.
J.A. Mabutt in Australia: A Geography (D.N. Jeans, ed.)

She's learning about the desert
where things are not as flat as they seem.
She needs the plain, the wind, scrub,
no longer believes mirages
on straight, never-ending roads,
wants nothing to do with rain,
not even a sudden flash flood.
But climbing dunes reworked by wind
she finds traces of running water,
fresh scouring of ground, rilled surfaces,
ephemeral stream channels.

She wants to learn to live
without comfort or knowledge
of the future, each day its own,
stretched out like any other.
There's only a long horizon,
she wants that secret to stay there.

She's like plants at ground level
surviving as seeds through dry periods —
tough outside while inside
she'll grow the grassland of dreams,
a wild place of her own,
until rain memory tracks her waking.
She stumbles out by the highway,
into a new mirage, oasis —
that road where past and future meet
only at the horizon
and there's all that walking in between.

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