Thursday, December 30, 2004

tsunami - a response

I put together the piece below because I could not write anything myself.

I also realise this isn't the only disaster and tragedy in town but its suddenness and scope has made it overwhelming. There are political dimensions to this as well. Most of those affected are poor people who have been forced by circumstances to live in low-lying coastal areas and/or depend on tourism as a source of income. One of the quotes which most concerned me was about the possibility of effects from the nuclear reactor in India. It isn't just a natural disaster.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

water has taken away

Water has taken away my family. - Mother, what's happened? I saw you yesterday and now you're here. You're not dead, you've gone to another village. Please come back. - We hope the funds allocated for the people won't be lost to corruption. - It came just like a river. People were running here and there. They couldn't decide where to go. - My son is crying for his mother. I think this is her. I recognise her hand, but I'm not sure. - There just aren't enough body bags.

We thought it was the end of the world. … The water was as high as a coconut palm. … It was all over in 25 minutes. That's all. How can that be ... such devastation. - Children in emergency wards were killed. Soldier patients suffering from malaria helped to evacuate other patients. - I need baby food as well ... no aid has come to us yet. - No contact makes us fearful. We're trying to send helicopters there. - Where is the military? They're just taking care of their families. There is no war in Aceh now, why don't they help pick up the bodies in the street?

This was the only thing we could do. It was a desperate solution. The bodies were rotting. We gave them a decent burial. - Police told us to come and have a look at this collection of ID cards. - We met in university. Is this the fate that we hoped for? My darling, you were the only hope for me.

Dead: they are dead, my cousins, their children, many of my husband's family. There are too many funerals, he has to stay to help them. - She went under a car, it just went over the top of her. I just got picked up and chucked against a wall. I was a lucky one: we cheated death. - Then all of a sudden we saw what looked like a wave surge into the garden ... at one point I had to scramble up bamboo trees to avoid the rising water.

I hope and pray that we can at least find their bodies so that we can see them one last time and give them a decent burial. - Information reaching here suggests facilities at Kalpakkam nuclear station may have been affected by the tidal waves. - We don't have confirmed data … - The TV, everything gone. - I've got calls from people down south who need clothes to bury their dead. They have none.

- Wednesday 29 December 2004

Those quoted, in order:
- Anbalakhan, who lost her husband, son and two daughters in the wrecked village of Karambambari, Tamil Nadu
- a woman at a grave site, Tamil Nadu
- Indonesian House Speaker, Agung Laksono
- Rajith Ekanayake, a security guard at the P&J City shopping centre, Galle
- Bejkhajorn Saithong, searching for his wife on Khao Lak beach
- Lieutenant-Colonel Budi Santoso, Banda Aceh

- Sofyan Halim, Banda Aceh
- Citra Nurhayat, a nurse in a Banda Aceh hospital
- Nurhayati, who has only had bananas to feed her 3-month-old baby since Sunday, Banda Aceh
- Djoko Sumaryono, Indonesian government official, says of Simeulue
- Indra Utama, community leader in Banda Aceh

- Venerable Baddegama Samitha, a Buddhist monk and former parliamentarian, at funeral of Queen of the Sea train wreck victims near Galle
- Premasiri Jayasinghe, Colombo
- a young man at the site of the Queen of the Sea train wreck near Galle

- Mrs Seeli Packianathan, returning from Sri Lanka, at Sydney Airport
- Les Boardman, returning from Phuket, at Sydney Airport
- Joyce Evans, of Melbourne, in Sri Lanka

- Kolanda Velu, from Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu
- spokesman, Indian Prime Minister's office
- Indonesian Vice-President Yusuf Kalla, in Medan city
- Roshan Perera, at the Catholic church in Mattakkuliya, Colombo
- Kusum Athukorala, local aid worker, Mattakkuliya, Colombo

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


A lot of crows (OK, Australian Ravens but we call ‘em crows) around these few days. Perhaps the weather is bringing them in. They were cawing in St Andrew’s Square. I was going to say a godforsaken stretch of modernised pebblecrete in the midst of the city (one of many) but there’s St Andrew’s Cathedral right next to it. But considering the pretty un-Christian outbursts of Sydney Anglicans over time and certainly of late, yeah, ‘godforsaken’ sounds about right. I think ‘whitened sepulchres’ is also a description.

[Though what am I talking about. Us lugging our bag of ‘bargains’ from the post-Christmas sales. Well, new walking shoes, winter socks and a thermal for the trip to Europe, and Janet Frame’s The Pocket Mirror. I thought this latter a great find, Frame’s only book of poetry. Then, this morning, my nearest and dearest brings forth her own copy of …. D’oh. I suppose there’s not many families that can claim dual copies of Janet Frame’s one and only book of poetry.]

But even here, at home, the ravens are calling, the southerly is blowing and the temps are down. There’s snow down south in the high country.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

wagging my tail

Just catching the tail end of the year is another small (but powerful) publication of mine, Where the Sea Burns, which is a sixteen page chapbook, being No. 39 in the Wagtail series of Australian poets put together by Rob Riel.

The series of booklets intends to capture mainly reprint material from a broad variety of Australian poets, given that a lot of material does go out of print. Therefore, my Wagtail features mainly work from my first three books, particularly The Book of Possibilities which is now only available from moi.

Judy Johnson edited my Wagtail (note this proprietorial tone), for which I'm appreciative, and she has allowed some old work which did not carry into my fairly recent selected to have a second outing.

Wagtail is available by subscription. They only accept payment in Australian dollars, and overseas subscribers should therefore add AUD$1.65 per issue. The rates are:
2 years: $52 - 22 issues
1 year: $26 - 11 issues
6 months: $16 - 6 issues
Singles: $3

Cheques and money orders should be made out to Picaro Press and sent to PO Box 853, Warners Bay, NSW, 2282. Picaro can be contacted by email at jandr at hunterlink dot net dot au.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

vale Jackson Mac Low 1922-2004

Belatedly, wanting to acknowledge the passing of Jackson Mac Low last week. There's an obituary at The New York Times and here's more info on Mac Low.

The poem below is from his series of Light Poems.


The light of a student-lamp
sapphire light
the light of a smoking-lamp

Light from the Magellanic Clouds
the light of a Nernst lamp
the light of a naphtha-lamp
light from meteorites

Evanescent light
the light of an electric lamp
extra light

Citrine light
kineographic light
the light of a Kitson lamp
kindly light

Ice light
altar light

The light of a spotlight
a sunbeam
solar light

Mustard-oil light
maroon light
the light of a magnesium flare
light from a meteor

Evanescent light
light from an electric lamp
an extra light

Light from a student-lamp
sapphire light
a shimmer
smoking-lamp light

Ordinary light
orgone lumination
light from a lamp burning olive oil
opal light

atom-bomb light
the light of an alcohol lamp
the light of a lamp burning anda-oil

- Jackson Mac Low

miles ahead and miles behind

Listening, both today and yesterday, to Miles Davis, Filles de Kilimanjaro.

Hadn't listened for a while but have been reading the late Ian MacDonald'sThe People's Music. Published in 2003, the book has a number of short essays and reviews which mainly point to the 1960s as the time when the big changes in music happened.

OK, debatable but supportable, but I agreed with his discussion on this album, that it 'remains relatively underrated and ripe for reevaluation', and it leads directly to both the cool (In a Silent Way) and the hot (Bitches Brew) of Miles late 60s 'revolution in the head' (to totally misappropriate the title of MacDonald's book about the Beatles).

I've always loved the reference to Hendrix's 'The Wind Cries Mary' in 'Mademoiselle Mabry', the last track on Filles de Kilimanjaro. Ian Carr, in his biography Miles Davis: The Definitive Biography says that: "During this whole period, Miles's friendship with Jimi Hendrix flourished. ... The two spent much time together, and Dave Holland is convinced that Hendrix influenced Miles in many ways ..." And, of course, Carr speculates the influence probably went both ways.

I am always fascinated in the way that Miles Davis seemed to arrange his recording sessions so casually, yet amazing work resulted. Says a lot about what goes on in 'the head'. By that I'm thinking of that part of the body where thinking is said to reside and also thinking about the body, the whole body that thinks, connection and flow between brain work and the other systems - blood, lymph, chemistry, electrics. Action is internal as well as external.

And memory as thinking and action. I'm doing a bit of 'going back' at the moment. Very refreshing. Good for future stuff.

minding the language

Just mulling over the word 're-engineer'. Something I'm missing? All suggestions gratefully ... etc.

Words are important. Wish more people realised this.


That was the week that was! Some Australians may understand where I'm coming from.

And up dawn, back to mill.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Red poppies - a renga

A summer kasen renga written by Andrew Burke, Jen Crawford, Louise Waller, Lawrence Upton, Kristin Hannaford, Jennifer Compton, Heather Matthew, Jill Jones and Anie Locke.
Written between 24 November and 11 December 2004.

A version which includes each poet's initials underneath the verses they wrote, is available at hi spirits, weblog of the renga master, Andrew Burke. The renga was written online as part of the discussion on the poneme list. There was some discussion and disagreement on the list about acknowledgement vs anonymity of contributions to a collaborative project. In that spirit, I'm presenting an 'anonymised' version. Which is not to say I was one of the ones who thought it should be published in this form.

red poppies
lean into steam
off the wet path

in the fernery
fingers press sweating glass

fierce heat fades
evening twilight glows
a pink line

a fly stumbles
at a water glob
folding clothes
she drinks dark coffee
moon observes

the grasses seeding
green fruit swells above

midnight light
on watered garden
goat dung smells

four pink peonies a gift
sheets need washing

love - a red petal
her tattoo

forked over
the compost steams

a worm  
the uneaten meat  
a grey hair 

the peopled world spins   
cars stall in traffic   

moon bright as frost    
field of white goat skulls   
intruder light   

postcards from annapurna   
clouds of breath hover   

before dawn
we dread the heat
promised to us

a darkening sky
rain splatters fresh hay

green light
on the cherry blossom
a morning squabble

a fat bud cracks open
rising rivers roar

‘present for you, Gran!’
red eucalypt from
council tree butchers

colour wrinkles through clean wood
beneath the peeling bark

compose lists
to gather sparrows
seeds on lawn

so much to organise
too much to say

starfish legs
synchronised swimming
summer ladies' lunch

salt water in the harbour
obeys the distant moon

stand off shore to sniff
wet weather

the station wagon starts slowly
its old dry cough

tyres bald from travel
home, a bed

fluttering wings of
a blind white moth

faint crescent
between the hospital
and heavy clouds

in Carlton leaves blow
a red and gold dawn

hope? dust.
accumulating soil
green augmentation

girl running fingers through hair
a tongue over teeth, lipstick
shaking with fatigue
she searches for her glasses
she can't see them

empties out her bag feeling
a fathomless sea rising

a breeze spills
into the valley
jacaranda carpet

equinoctial petals fall
onto the bloomin' pages

Monday, December 06, 2004

who listens to the radio?

If you can tune into ABC National Radio at 3pm on Saturday 18 December 2004, you'll catch a broadcast of Mike Ladd's Poetica program called Screens, Jets, Heaven - The Poetry of Jill Jones. There are details about tuning in throughout Australia on the website. For anyone else, the broadcast should be available as a web stream for a month after the radio broadcast.

The blurb says:
“Jill Jones' poetry is both juicy and intimate. But underneath its lovely Sydney tang of sun and harbour is a dark destabilising smell of trouble.” Dorothy Porter

Jill Jones is a Sydney poet and writer. Her work has been published extensively in Australia and in journals in New Zealand, Canada, the USA and the UK as well as on-line. Some of her poems have been translated into Mandarin, Cantonese and Polish. In the program she talks about her influences and her work and reads from the collection.

Sound engineer: Roi Huberman
Produced and directed by Libby Douglas


I learned a lot from Libby and Roi as they put this program together and my thanks go to them for much patient advice on reading poems for broadcast.

The interview was done one afternoon at my house and the readings in the ABC studios in Ultimo over a couple of sessions. Some new work was also recorded but the final selection of poems is all from Screens Jets Heaven.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

after some time

Yes, I've not been around much. Walking in other places than Ruby Street, I guess. The internet has also been crap lately in this neck of the woods. I'm starting to wonder if my provider is trying to con me into subscribing to broadband by giving such crap service. They were originally The Internet Group (tig) based in New Zealand. Then became ihug, which is when I joined, and were pretty good for ages, and still essentially NZ-based. Now a crew from Western Australia called iinet have taken them over and it's now a downhill run I'm thinking. I'm not the only one this is happening to. If anyone knows of a good provider in Australia ...?

My job has changed as well. I won't go into it but it's been, shall we say, a distraction, necessarily so.

Some personal, 'trying to get healthy and it's taking some time' stuff, too.

But you can be too full of excuses. So I'm back to walking here.

Just finished watching the new Zhang Yimou film, House of Flying Daggers. Me like. My kinda film, full of colour and landscape (part filmed in the Ukraine, would you believe). Worth seeing when it's released. Different to Hero, more personal and passionate, although epic as well.

Also, thinking about where to from here. I do this every couple of weeks, anyway, but this time it's serious, and slow. Thinking about 'language' (what is it good for?) and reality (ditto). Words aren't just words and sentences are more than sentences. I'll keep walking, for the moment. See you around.