Tuesday poem: Music notes

November 18, 2014


music notes

piano accordian
the lung that smiles

haversack guts fart

less said the better

P.S. Cottier

A tiny poem, or notes towards a poem.  I am very busy coordinating (I do hate the word facilitating) a course on speculative poetry this month, so my own poems are getting shorter. Fifteen words is hardly a poem, really. If I keep this up the whole thing will be like John Cage’s 4’33″, only fifty years late. I shall call that poem erasure…Or unseen ellipses, which would win the pretentiousness stakes.

I hazard a guess that some of the poems posted by other Tuesday Poets have more than fifteen words. Just for the moment, the usual feather that takes you to New Zealand is sick, so press this link instead. It still works, though it is not as pleasing to look at.

A story of mine, a really short thing of 500 words, was recently published at AntipodeanSF (the October issue). Amazingly, this on-line magazine has been around since 1998! A real achievement for the editor, Ion Newcombe. The 200th issue will be appearing quite soon, which is a Proust worth of of flash fiction.

If you would like to hear me read the flash fiction ‘Slippery Worlds’, press this link and go to the AntipodeanSF radio show for November 15th, which is named Mirfak, after a star.

My fiction and my poetry seem to be converging in the universe of Small. I am the Incredible Shrinking Poet.

Tuesday poem: Sequential menu

November 10, 2014

sequential menu

methane farts
too many cows
thick beefy skies

thick beefy skies
drive for takeout
taste that plastic

taste that plastic
(onion rings)

gutter wrapper
sea junk flourishes

sea junk flourishes
macturtles sup
second hand meat

second hand meat
too many cows
thick beefy skies

P.S. Cottier

but not so charmingly rural

but not so charmingly rural

I like this one; parts of it were originally written for a science haiku competition, but it grew and grew like cattle in feedlots.


Currently I am co-ordinating an on-line course on writing speculative poetry for Australian Poetry, which has nothing to do with cows. I just set an exercise, and, in case anyone out there is interested, here it is:


Imagine you meet a supernatural or alien creature. In a poem, describe this being, which could be from another planet, another dimension, or another time. It, or he or she, could also be a fairy tale character, or a character from mythology.

Try and avoid cliché. For example, if you have chosen a vampire, don’t use bat or crypt imagery. Don’t put your ghost in a graveyard!

Imagine meeting it in a common situation, such as your house, walking the dog (is that actually a dog?) or at a supermarket.

How does the creature sound? Smell? These senses are just as important as how it looks. Try and be specific in description rather than using abstract terms. (For example, don’t say ‘its alien hands’, say ‘its caterpillar tentacles, slug soft yet avid’.)

Tone can be humorous, terrifying, matter-of-fact.

Any form. A haiku can say as much as a ballad. But don’t let rhyme become the main reason for the poem!

Enjoy yourselves.

Now New Zealand has weird creatures, including the flightless poet. One of them just dropped this feather onto my screen. Click it and read her or his poetry:
Tuesday Poem

Okay, the feathers have disappeared, ruining all my amusing references used for years on this blog. Please excuse! Our feathers now are ended…

My selfie on Calvary

I had to squat,
haul up his head
but I like the way
the thorns look like an effect —
‘trembling halo’ —
and the crimson
just nailed it lol

P.S. Cottier


I was shocked, the other day, to hear of people taking selfies in front of car accidents, and the idea that people would take a selfie as Jesus carried the cross came to me. The poem attempts to capture this spirit, in appropriate flat-pack language.

Let’s face it, some people would climb up over someone on the cross to get the right photo. Not that that ability to ignore suffering is new; remember the soldiers gambling under the cross as Christ died. But the need to capture our images all the time, and the idea that sensation of viewing the images overcomes compunction is a new manifestation of this way of thinking, it seems to me. An unlovely mix of vanity and cruelty, which is to art (see Raphael above) what Twitter is to literature.

Pornography and self perception are becoming more and more linked, and the production of images through any means is approved.

Now I promise to be new light hearted next time.

Light as this feather. Tap it and read more poetry:

Tuesday Poem

That image is sometimes not appearing properly, but please, click anyway.

Not so egregiously slack

October 30, 2014

I really have been absent from my blog for about two weeks now, which is virtually unprecedented. ‘Virtually unprecedented’ is a pretentious way of saying I am usually not lazy like that. But I have been busy, judging other people’s poetry. bigstock_Pen_4267530 That image is very dignified, whereas the process is somewhat more fraught. ‘Fraught’ is a slightly pretentious way of saying difficult. The whole issue of judging poetry throws one back to basics: Why me? What makes a poem good? It is easy to spot the bad poems in a Big Pile. They may use obvious rhyme to the extent that a rhyme seems to be the only point of each line. (A bit like that sentence, but even rhymier.) They may dwell too obviously on the poet him or herself (all the poems to be judged are anonymous, of course, so one does not know the gender of the entrant). I actually like some poems in which the process of writing itself is dealt with, if they are amusing or surprising; not if they are turgid or caught up in an unreflective notion of genius. A good poem should surprise and take risks. It should not use the occasional ‘poetic’ word as seasoning for a balefully plain meal. Somewhere between pinch, stroke and slap we find the Good Poem, strutting herself like a green flamingo, all swerve and flap and tingle. flamingo There you have it; a Good Poem describes an unusually feathered tall bird that tastes like sherbet. Having cleared that up, and finished judging a contest in which there were just too many lovely flamingos, I can move on to something different.

A very interesting anthology is currently being prepared for publication in 2015. Here are the details: http://www.abhayk.com/p/global-poetry-project.html Abhay K., Indian poet and diplomat, is editing a collection of poems on capital cities. One for each capital city, I think. I just found out that my poem has been accepted for Canberra. This will be the most international publication that I have been lucky enough to be part of, with poets from Tehran to Jakarta to Paris to Lima included, with 196 or so more. Very exciting indeed!


I am struggling to find the time to work on assembling a new manuscript of poems. So please, dear reader, forgive the absence of an actual poem here this time. I will remedy that in the near future. Which is a pretentious way of saying keep reading.

Peripheral vision flicker
(A poem found at Conflux)

That subterranean process
alien or not alien
everyone is pretending
peripheral vision flicker
she can smell if you’re sad
more oxygen than carbon
prone to sooting
the aroma of porcelain
observe the strange world!
I was actually swooning
wouldn’t send a trunk story
we churn through them
faffing around before
a source of buoyancy
sketchy with world building
arrogant rockstar scientist
no socks in fantasy land
bounce off the person you are
every village is a city
chunky unspeakable matter
just people in an environment
herbivore men
arcane and hideous process
when we have wings
tend not to rhyme
a paisley black hole

P.S. Cottier

I love not listening properly, or even listening improperly…that is, just hearing little sound-nuggets (or sense nuggets) and recording them. Here we find some little phrases from a science fiction convention held in Canberra a week ago, joined together and called a poem. It’s more a peripheral sound flicker, to adapt the title to my nefarious ways.

Have I no decorum?

If you want proper poetry that may even make sense, may I suggest that you press this feather, and be beamed sideways to New Zealand and in other directions to other parts:

Tuesday Poem


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