A poem written last night, Tuesday, after a haircut and a quick bite in Darlinghurst. It's closing on 40 degrees heat today (possibly a record for spring in Sydney, I'm told). Luckily I will be spending most of my birthday in airconditioning, before adjourning for drinks then dinner.

Night before my birthday

Drinking Sydney water without thought
stray cut hair drifting round my neck
in the midst of spring heatwave
eating noodles with pearlescent pink
chopsticks. ‘Enjoy your meal’ - he might have
meant it. The mix tape in my head ravels.
It’s harder to forget some things, I remember
a lot of haircuts, some too cute
and curvy, how songs used to explode
and jangle , how hair got long short long.

The chopsticks slip and juice trembles
on my lip. What’s not to like anymore
that hasn’t gone on before. This would
always be my turf, slipped along
the door with fridge magnets, music
patterns frenetic experiences
that now are tired if you’re not good
with crowds in four-four time
under lights. There was never any prize
it’s not only drugs that can prick
the back of my neck. Shorn filaments
will wash free, taxis depart
waiters relax in city smoke and the water
washes down something
silk and sweet.

Landmarks are thin and airbrushed
in the muggy dark, the acid night
its causes and deflections
I’m wheeling in, spinning around
a tune that always bothered me
the singer dead, famously and sad.
She still hits the middle and the high
and now it’s in my hand.
When clouds cry as in blues
I wish they would and they will
when I play the neglected tracks
‘Life Could’ in younger tenses again.

Cockroaches climb Museum’s tiles, rolling
stairs dip down to light and creamy-brown
tunnels. ‘Beware’, ‘beware’, everywhere
under noise that offers no explanation.
People sing as they run, chatter
while they walk, monitors flicker, hesitate
over stations. Something provisional
anyway as I decide not to open up
the machine, tinker with its coins
and mechanism, its stacks of coca cola.
I’ll thirst instead with my keys, my purse
(or wallet, I guess, chocked with plastic
magnetic world-glue). No-one mentions a death
on the Petersham line (yes, email this afternoon
spread the news), no-one naming names.
They roll up the blue centre of the screen
a steadier rate than my own stock timing
and finally Marrickville slows by.

There’s a big sky hoisted onto billboards
lit with fluoro lines and shimmery globes.
It emerges beyond tunnels and awnings
the squeaking of the rails.
We’re waiting for names, for rain
a twist of wind-salt from the eastern sea.

Crown Street, Oxford Street, Museum Station
Tuesday 12 October, 7-9pm


chris said…
Oh Hey! Happy Birthday to ya, Jill!

chris murray
Jill Jones said…
Many thanks, Chris. A pleasant happy returns day day if way too hot. Summer's coming upon us.

Unknown said…
A belated happy birthday to you!
Jill Jones said…
Hey, thanks Cassie. It was a quiet but good one.

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