Big Bridge #9

Poets of Australia


Jill Jones


There are announcements in the tunnels
across night. Somehow
you have to make sense of the lists
as they fall around you.

Across the night, in the running
the corridors have called.
The lists want you to have them.
The lists are agitated
timed to the minute
as the seconds disappear
past the spoken.
They un-recite clouds & feathers.

You notice them & ignore them
just the same
like your companions.
Distance used to be your guide.
Muscles worked in your throat
where you now swallow
some sour repeat pattern.
There was once a mystery
that train you’ve forgotten.
It rattled, now it glides.

You will be a line
in another announcement.
This is fame.

And the wind across the corridors
blows night around.
You can feel it’s taste in directions.
There’s still a rocking motion
even while you’re waiting
to be late.
This is as close to salvation
as they can take you
to fair fields & water falls.

The dialogues are unwired.
They pass to sticky air
so quickly
handed around like chocolate
on the seat under spring sun
diffident in wind.
Packages crackle like leaves
the rain of stuff.

Pass it on, send it away
to the claustrophobic place
resting ground of ages
the cellophane light
the fidgeting bloody time.

This is the terror
nothing could be happening
all the time
as removed as it is on top of you.
Even the gossip is pale now
a wiry thread that ignores duration.
You take up too much speed
this anxiety present.
You want to leap turnstiles.

And poems that were lists
you’ve peeled them off like labels.
Only some of the glue
coats your skin less like memory.
You efface it between fingers
brush it away
on the cloth that covers you.
There’s still that taste left
sweet old slick on your tongue.

This you can drink down
to make something in your body
its tunnels, its tenacity
hits on nerves.

But can you ever beat the game?
Do the songs still come on
like pirouetting drugs.
Do the corridors still fill up
excited & sprawling, shove & smoke?
Will you let the lists
keep you to your line?
Will you sing night, not say it?
Do you live elsewhere than
this scene?

The numbers are like rocks
chipped a bit, dispersed
but still hard.
They’re a trip-up, a deal gone wrong
the lie & truth told
on the fingers of one hand
but one is never one.
There’s never just one fire.


the lists of the world
little pointy flags

by & large it’s a circle-jerk
to a large extent needs maximum care

to be acknowledged by name
might have stung me

stitching together a place of refuge
got away with modesty

‘I know what you mean’ ‘doesn't?’
my fingers stubborn, careful

my early History in strip images
powerless very naked tremulous

alongside convention
my tyres can be fixed

Jill Jones is a Sydney writer. Her fourth book, Screens Jets Heaven: New & Selected Poems won the Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize in 2003. A chapbook, Struggle & Radiance, will be published by Wild Honey Press in Ireland late in 2003.

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