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2 poems by Jill Jones

And the World is Breath

‘Clouds … they are the principal reality of the day and I’m as preoccupied with them as if the clouding over of the sky were one of the great dangers that fate has in store for me. … Clouds’

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

I set sail every morning

unhooking day from night

The window is a breath

The north is scudded

with patches of white

A cloud is a breath

Not all days have clouds

but here they are

The passing train is a breath

A cold wind blows

over the summer

The fallen nest is a breath

Every return is a pattern

one map undoes another

I stare into a clear dark sky

as planes fly across

night in a diagonal

The interrupted dream is a breath

I’m wandering with ghosts

against screens and machines

There are no clouds

The sky seems to be humming

A receipt from an auto-teller

is a breath

The air is full of leaves and wind

but no clouds

A parking space is a breath

A gum tree against

the clear blue seen

from the bus is a breath

Memory is every breath

Ghost clouds float

in the hot blue

above the parklands

Every second is for something

Forgetting is another breath

Stars From Ruins

I feel a breeze as it brushes

my bones

of hydroxyapatite

the unbalanced the lost

When my desires find surfaces

a place for shaping

ancient and beautiful as galaxies

The first rock may have been

a bright diamond carbon

My feet catch on the grit life

all my stones tossed or extracted

my underground my circles

a table a tunnel a wall

whose shadows tell of secrets

love can often be hard

Each shift is a translation

dissolves into the world

a ditch of hells and fault planes

a niche for safe-keeping

a circlet of star systems

skin and my daily salt

I take this graphite and mark

lines under the daylight

Each stone is a pillow

a rest an augur

a road. a foundation

even when cracking

It’s not only shadows that fill up

with secrets

the weather is leaning and wilting

like a doomed princess

I grew up in sandstone in the charms

of east coast winds

I’m a small creature here are my atoms

they are me and so many

other things

I sit on my ruins

remain until dark

when rocks shine like worlds


Jill Jones’ latest book is entitled Wild Curious Air. In 2015 she won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry for The Beautiful Anxiety. Her work has been published in periodicals in the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Ireland, Sweden, Singapore and NZ. She edited, with Michael Farrell, Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets. Her work has been translated into Chinese, French, Italian, Czech, Macedonian and Spanish. In late 2014 she was poet-in-residence at Stockholm University.


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