Temperamental Sonnets

Poet Jill Jones was commissioned by Arts Law and The Red Room Company to write and perform a poem for the launch of Arts Law Week Sydney 2008. The Red Room Company creates, promotes and publishes a spectrum of poetry by Australian writers, in unusual ways. Through a range of forms such as radio, new media and live performance, it broadens the public's definition of, and experience with, high quality Australian poetry. An audio version of Jill's poem, and an interview with Johanna Featherstone, Artistic Director of The Red Room Company, is available as a pod-cast on

Temperamental Sonnets


Is it enough to possess such things,
the equivalent or the local? Is a leaf
enough to translate its world, or will
a pressure of wings enslave the beholder,
in fervent, continuous mouthing of enigmas,
less intelligent than elephants in summer mud?

Longitudes, Mediterraneans, species! Now
is the hour for a poetry of remarkable absences.

Therefore, take an inch of an antidote
to the extended and zealous flashes
of the whiteman in heat, while we hunger
for the original sap within the rock.

Whoever has the lucky ticket should leap
into what’s left of each wave and tree.

Whale Songs

Insurance lends a hand to the dream
but the dice is pretty much the way it is,
pretty much like the famous dog and its day,
just as driving an old Taurus takes guts,
you’ll need at least fourteen portions
of crystal and bat sheen, gingery flooze.

All those blustering gentleman, shining
balls on their whites, still can’t play
it straight in an uncomfortable clime
at the end of ages, as the whales approach,
now on foot and inconsolable, unable
to digest the folderol of the high seas.

The ice slides into disrepair and the acid city
finally measures the alarm.

Finally, Whispers!

With just a little science we can disturb much
in the time-space continuum
if you stay beautiful, and I’m steady, game
in the gravel — rendered from loneliness
my world pushes its conundrums, worming
clarity, dumb intelligence, animal feeling.

Do you remember how it felt after
the motion, or the mediation? Will it be
the goods or their absence, massive temperatures
between thighs, oceans and hot abdomens
sarin gas, river fevers, flash memory, girlie flush.
It’s guts, glory, then we’re famished, o tasted and gone!

Diversions, combustions, the changa-chang
everywhere! White teeth, sloppy kisses. Such words!

Jill Jones  

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