Jan Owen

in my end is my beginning – just

a rat’s nest coiled in back-shed dust,
a tangle of demented knots

gothic as the Grimms’ dark plots,
a thrumming song of wreak and wreck

(whose satin bed, whose trusting neck?),
the tautened threat from fist to fist,

the carpe diem tug and twist.
My image haunts your DNA,

that tiny ruthless shadow ...

Indoor Cricket 

Insects are nature’s netsukes, and, by jiminy, crickets are such bright creatures. JJO


This ‘structural scandal’, tongue’s yen for kin
as family is a sort of chime, the thrift
of loaves and fishes unconsumed by scorn,

is natural as natural history
with all its modulations of again –
seed, crystal, comet, crocus, rain.

Even our code’s in rhyme – adenine,
cytosine, guanine and thymine – turn
and turn again (cynghanedd rule ...

after the painting by Jan Vermeer

Two strands of pearls, warm cream, cool blue,
are spilling over a coffer and onto
a crumple of ultramarine against a wall
below a yellow curtain shifting the muted light.
Four gold coins and a silver ducat
wait to be weighed along the table edge,
but the sidelong mirror’s narrow sliver can find
no avarice in ...

Heaved up or fountained down, the wooden slats breathe a shirr
and clattered repeat of the mill of their making, a satisfactory thud

like the outcome of a stock plot. Half hoist, they hang askew with a
pained smile, and bell pulls for self-service which pirouette

to a glut of knots. Tilt by tilt they’ll orchestrate your day, underlining gloom
and overruling ligh ...

Jan Owen NEW FEB 2017Jan Owen lives at Aldinga Beach, fifty kilometres south of Adelaide. Her translations from Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal were published in 2015 by Arc Publications. A New and Selected, The ...

Selected Poems from Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Jan Owen

January-February 2016, no. 378

The Flowers of Evil (Les Fleurs du mal, 1857) is the most celebrated and most influential collection of verse in the history of modern French poetry. Its author, Charles Baudelaire (1821–67), is seen as the embodiment of a sensibility we regard as 'modern'. T.S. Eliot called him 'the greatest exemplar of modern poetry in any language'.

Ba ...

Boy with A Telescope by Jan Owen & The Twofold Place by Alan Gould

February–March 1986, no. 78

The ways of poetry are many but sometimes, as it turns out, they are simply oppositional. These two new volumes of poetry from Angus & Robertson could easily have been produced as the occasion for some compare-and-contrast parlour game. The first, and continuing, thing to be said about them is that Gould is strong on artistic form whereas Owen is strong on life. The harder question to ask about any writer is whether it is better to be good at forms or to be full of life. Both, you will say, of course; but then we can’t have everything.

... (read more)