Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Grass by Jill Jones

Empty girl I was, so far inside, grass didn't know me
It was something unbending, only light seemed to touch
But so long as I could smell the sea, so long as salt
I had extrications, music, that fire, phase & beat
And all around the world went off, banners & avenues, cruelties
Now it's come one, come all, a kind of sassy hoedown
The grass is going, it cracks & withers sadly, almost infinitely
But I'm becoming younger as my dead drugs strangle each-to-each
I go out with skin mixes, cantos & some fear rocking
I stand or fall but now I can feel that region's joy, the bones

from Broken/Open, Salt Publishing, 2005 published with permission

Editor: Catherine Bateson

Jill Jones, an award-winning Australian poet, has published seven full-length books of poetry including Ash is Here, So are Stars (Walleah Press, 2012), Dark Bright Doors (Wakefield Press, 2010), and Broken/Open (Salt, 2005). A new book, The Beautiful Anxiety, is due from Puncher and Wattmann in late 2013. Her work is represented in a number of major anthologies including the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature and The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry.

I really love and admire this poem. It richly skirts narrative moving the narrator from fragmented yearning to a more complete self-knowledge which acknowledges both personal history and the unknown. One of the things about Jones's work that I've always enjoyed is her ability to change register and insert an unexpected, and sometimes salty, vernacular into the formal structure. '....come one, come all, a kind of sassy hoedown' does this here and the internal rhyme and rhythm of 'come one, come all' with 'I stand or fall' a few lines later works beautifully.

If you want to read more poems by Jill Jones, you can find some here. Thank you, Jill, for Grass.

Catherine Bateson is an Australian poet and writer for children and young adults. She is currently on a residency in Paris, funded by the Australian Council for the Arts. Her latest children's book, Star, was published last year by Omnibus Books. Her latest collection of poetry, Marriage for Beginners, John Leonard Press, came out in 2009.

After you've read Grass, try some of the other Tuesday Poems in the sidebar by or chosen by our Tuesday Poets. 


Jennifer Compton said...

it dances, it sings

Helen Lowe said...

Fabulous, Catherine: really like it & shall now try and read more Jill Jones!

Mary McCallum said...

Love the energy of the syntax - the things left unsaid and suggested... the title! Thank you Catherine and Jill.

Ben Hur said...

Great poem. Thanks for posting

Helen McKinlay said...

On my first reading I felt uncomfortable...as if there were sharp edges around me...
I've had to work at this poem and the line 'But so long as I could smell the sea, so long as salt
I had extrications,saved me.'
I am beginning to like it but I don't think it's about liking.
Thank you Jill and thanks Catherine for posting.

Nisha said...

I just love the feel and flow of the words, they are used in such an elegant combination.

Thanks for posting!

Michelle Elvy said...

I like the way this poem and the narrator develops, through those sharp images. And I love the full feeling of the ending.

I did not know Jill Jones's poetry but now I'll look out for more. Thanks for the post!