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Book Launch - Eight Sonnets © by Jeff Guess

Listen@Lunch, Gawler Public Library, August 21st 2022 , 12 - 1pm

This Morning

This morning

the sun

like soft yellow, warm

delicious butter

has covered


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.

The Cricketers

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 ©


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