Adelaide detours

by Jill Jones

From the south

What is the smoke?

Is this a city or something

more inexplicable?

Don’t talk of alleys, this is

a suburb, see the trees.

There is no river, not really

roads are slightly tattered.

There are garlands on the strips

between districts, wine and roses.

Trucks fall from the hills

full of heat and catch.

They fall through the ages

and their sides open.

Who understands the steam

the drains, grates, overpasses

all too strange now?

A kind of history that arrived

out of the south

with tradewinds, something

to sell.


Clipsal interludio

Mosquito racing cars

bus huffing peak hour side

swipe in addition to

squares you go round

mallets in your head

attempting da capo

again to catch

the ghost of Bach’s

Goldberg ‘composed

for…refreshment of 

…spirits’ or local

ghosts Gawler Gouger

Goyder Grainger

as singing past

the cemetery as

ratty or raspish as

a colony pretending

it’s free singing past

the murdering guns

and waterholes

metal is still calling

periodic table drifts

across the plains a hole

for whispers all that

porn distributed

like a Pirie Street

brief syncopations

in the city grid

control gone

on Gorge Road

welcome to the barriers

bushfires rage in

your head the mall bawls

flash aria break glass

in emergency lick Pale

off the Rundle

kill time with variations

in a Port Road jam.


Early thoughts while turning onto Anzac Highway on
14th September 2015

Stuck at lights at Anzac Highway, hello Le Cornu corner

a rooster crows, is it a phone, maybe not, it is early

so, it may be a rooster, the city is full of birds

Like those magpies on TV aerials on the treeless plain, on the lookout

like car drivers, like hunters

like someone trying to avoid Richmond Road in the morning

Ah, the city, full of straight roads made for managers

political news made by managers

and summer’s early swerve is like any heat

but not like any heat, it’s a spring surprise, and

this is now

among the Austerity houses, the mock Tudor houses

and the new factories, where small things can happen

such as not ticking the boxes

such as not turning right to the airport

not rushing to the east coast (but I am)

or taking a plane to Port Lincoln or Whyalla

paid for by somebody’s budget, someone keeping tabs

Or not turning left, as if there was any authority left

in a straight drive from Bradman, or South Road, or Cross Road

all roads are cross roads, with that heat that is now, and unmanaged

Later, the security industry will pull me aside to test me

for the bomb I thought about in a new dream you can’t control

it’s just a job, scanning for nothing, not like the magpies

that are being hounded away by wattle birds, native miners

they swoop us all the same

But this is now, the airport still waits

there’s some broken glass glinting in the spring sun

just there, by the roadside

today someone will crunch it, another roll-over that hurts

Like the waning welfare state and official kindness

apologies retracted or run down by the spectre haunting the brown sky

where all that’s solid holds itself within the air

the things that can be measured but ignored, the real conditions of life

Whatever it is that happens now, in the hard light

small, beautiful, endlessly suburban

the melting air

Note: the earliest draft of this poem was written on the day of change of Liberal Party leadership (and prime ministership) from Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull, 14 September 2015.


Driving through Dulwich

Looking along the city plain

there’s nothing to say

trees shimmy or wither

   unexpected wind

a sigh of making

weather depends

from branches and eaves

depends on actions

   synaptic, molecular

and sky seems ageless

but above clouds

it’s fading where

sun drops in

a hissy machine

   music radiates

day’s wheels are careful

around the barriers

this week we have spectacles

   and avoidance

an election poster says

‘save the unicorn’

   already torn.


Murray andante

The night fills with Bach

with the clear cold

a gas fire doesn’t touch

outside rattle of a skateboard

not gelling with the violin

skateboard guy, I’ve seen him before

rolls back towards Gilbert Street

the slow movement begins

it’s not quite a baroque town

the grids almost classical

but the Bach andante claims it

now the outside softens

again giving access somehow

to measure, of steady streets

lack of blue shadow and a

width of days along with my

steady lostness in a bowl

of clarity, while above my eyes

the green and grey hills

need to stretch my thought

and rain suddenly hits the roof

then stops, quick, all this water

that doesn’t go to rivers

that doesn’t cease the drought

nor bring me back to

a mind that accompanied me

once through funky allegros

and andantes and other

more humid songs

unlike the passing of trams at

Pirie Street, as lawyers progress

to sandstone courts where

cameras linger, sensations of the local

a city’s petty crimes

well, that’s cross continental

like the sad river, as even

the blind hours remind me

killed state by state, classical neglect

not even this rain nor

this music allays.

From Griffith REVIEW Edition 55: State of Hope © Copyright Griffith University & the author.