Jill Jones has published six full-length books of poetry, including Dark Bright Doors, which was shortlisted for the 2011 Kenneth Slessor Prize. She co-edited, with Michael Farrell,Out Of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets. She is a member of the J. M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide.




Not Far

Is he gauging the distance between the station and the rain, or is it just another exchange? Like the packets these clouds will drop, but not here. I’m just as distant when he goes off smoking. Is there nothing left? Some of us manage to talk but not touch, speaking to air in all the common folly and gist inside us while a cop car circles the block. Whoever believes they’ll find what they’re looking for and how little it matters? Just as someone moves the hands of the clock and wishes maps were bigger. He’s back again, stabbing the phone, edgy keys in pocket. Each time gets more icy. I don’t imagine what he’s saying, please believe me, where’s the money, can’t come.

My excuses are extracted from this body by invisible operations of time that’s been bent, lungs and knapsacks, shallow breathing, all that dumb effort, just to go home again, and too much fun. I haven’t noticed the stones for days and leaves have got dirtier. Still, I never throw anything on the tracks or have crossed. I’m more careful than a tree even in winter, in places I can’t go outside of a time I only imagine but often recall. As so much exists to imagine. And so much gone, only a quarter forgotten. But we speak into the havens, lines of communiqué, blocks with holes. As we express little grunts, packages from the breast, gulping like winners but also spent, as we imagined it, bright and clear, but not far, not that far.


Another Mystery

It’s dawn and you still can’t get across. There’s a rowboat on the lake under moonlight. Behind you is a house full of suspects. Fate and the hangman are making arrangements. It’s good to have company and childish desires. The rain harbours feelings in the nervy night. I’m watching the incriminating clock. Who’s capable of love while we’re looking for motives? I’m guilty telling the truth, it’s what I know.

What’s this coldness?  What are these shawls? There are too many men in hats, while we’re blaming ourselves, seeing what we’re not supposed to know, or swallowing pills. Animals are without cash flows or alibis. Birds rise into the light, while you play with money you don’t have, floating another prospectus from the wharf. All the little girls are grown-ups. What has been overlooked? A strange kind of parsimony, “Set your children free!”