Book Launch - Eight Sonnets © by Jeff Guess
Listen@Lunch, Gawler Public Library, August 21st 2022 , 12 - 1pm
like soft yellow, warm
the air is fully laden
with golden light
and the cologne spray
of star jasmine
the world is green deep
ripe and sweet
I pluck the moment
and bite the day to its core.
When I say 'Good morning' to the man
waiting at the station who reads
thick Wilbur Smith books on the train
he always says 'Yes - but it won't last.'
A curious reply; because in the total inversion
of my words - I take on too much meaning in his.
They carry too much freight. Perhaps
we will stop this nonsense sooner or later -
it's no way to start the day. We have not
nor ever will discuss further, what won't last.
But of all things temporal he it seems goes on
perennial as the moss that grows out of the sun
along the old platform verandah. And on across
the wide morning, he and his meaning are legion.
for my son
From cooking pot and steam
late afternoon light
thick kitchen air
the children hold
like golden ropes
and play a game
of climbing up them
the eldest pleads with me
to join in too
reluctant to trust
the insubstantial thing
I take his hand and climb
the mote of his belief.
On Collecting Dickens
Grandmother got them all by slow degrees
after the war on a pension
from book clearance tables at Myers
for sixpence and a shilling at the Argonaut now gone
under. And they were for her a constant source of coruscation
beneath their muted cloth covers of red and blue and green.
Moving in and out of them with a companion
ease and she could have been
any one of a dozen characters yet not the least herself:
seeking out their peculiar company down those long
days of sickness, up half
the night through all the years of separation.
Now they line one shelf of mine and wait as comforter
for some time-tired soul to come to them like hers.
after the painting by Russell Drysdale (1948)
A boy bowls up on the edge of red sand.
Beyond that - desert with no boundary
for a six. A full toss into the swung
shadow on a wall of sun. Patiently
a boy at point leans on the hot iron
verandah post that throws no shade. Either
way has little to catch. Will take his turn
with bat and ball in the cycle of their
game: not played for runs but hours. There
is only one crease: a few piles of stone
built places that stand on fringes where
drought years are a long slow drive beyond.
Spectators in an empty land pitching
hopelessly into the heart of nothing.
Mark of the Day
Australian Rules Football – Adelaide Oval
Watching him go up the sky as if he
held some secret toe-holds in the crowd-rung
air. Long fingers, stretching into all the
grey and difficult distance - glistening,
robed with rings of rain and silver
light. He knows his own degrees. Less than a
go-between for gods - nevertheless, were
this the very Port of Mars, this warrior
rises, risking all our soft Saturday
fears of losing; more than a match. He flies
for all of us, clutching at the sun - way
out of reach. But catching any piece of sky
isn’t enough, what counts is still the worth
of what he does with it, back here on earth.
Tonight, it is Raining
Tonight, it is raining
filling the soft green hollow
of my garden
with a band of showers
there is no enchantment
deeper than this moment
of elemental rain
that is as old as rain
as ancient as showers
that have fallen in this same place
for a kind of forever
world without end
but fall tonight
for the very first time.
From here the last train home completes its run.
The timetables of all our little stops and starts:
each and every station collapses into one.
Our little systems now got off by heart.
All those who earlier dreamed of distance
have been returned. The day – for all of that,
has its limits – the terminus of tense:
past imperfect we file as simply stats
that later will disturb our dreams and reverie.
Street lights make small yellow pools of rain.
At the back of the hotel crates of empty
bottles crash. The town is closing and this last train
shuts the desultory day in scrapes and whispers.
Somewhere the steel-clunk steel – almost an angelus.
Jeff Guess ©