Here’s the second poem that I wrote which has been nominated for the Rhysling Awards, run by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association based in the US. This one was nominated in the Long category, and is from my book Monstrous.

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The King of Eyes

His crown has fifty-two spikes,
and each boasts an eye
gouged from conquered realms,
or scooped like a four-minute egg
from every defeated pretender.
The eyes look out at courtiers,
at advisers, open and shameless
as any necessary lie.
Crowns parade around heads,
each decoration a soldier,
so there is always an eye,
or a platoon of eyes
upon you, heavy as an official chain.

We lucky, or unlucky, few
often in His Majesty’s presence
have noted that he arranges
the eyes to a distinct pattern,
blue following modest brown,
and every tenth eye is green.
Opalescent eyes, beflecked,
break the pattern near each ear,
as if to drop colourful rumour
direct into the regal brain.
Some say that it is possible
for each crown-eye to wink,
and that such a wink is deadly
as any guillotine, for the flicker
is only bestowed on those
whose own eyes will soon adorn
the King’s most puissant head.
I can not say if this is true,
as I have yet to see an eye
that still sports a gown of lash.
We walk quietly around
the regal panopticon,
just in case the eyes still see,
and the King might catch the
slightest flicker of disloyalty.

Yesterday I noticed an eye
of a near emerald green
that clearly broke the pattern —
and I recognised the glance
of the King’s courtesan,
who was strangely absent
from her stool near the window,
where she often sat, weaving.
I have clutched her in love,
these six months past,
and could not strangle a shudder
to see such beauty displaced.
If the eyes see, they saw me blanch,
at the elevation of her eye
from our shared soft pillow
to mere metallic display.

I am called to a meeting at eight.
My eye, such an average brown,
may yet be raised to the crown.

PS Cottier

Very happy that two of my poems have been nominated for the Rhysling Awards, which are annual awards for the best speculative poetry published in the previous calendar year. The award is organised by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, based in the United States. Poems are nominated by members of the SFPA (but you can’t nominate your own poems) and published in The Rhysling Anthology. The editor of this year’s anthology is Alessandro Manzetti. Members vote for their favourite poems in two categories. This week’s poem has been nominated in the short category. I think you can guess that the other poem, which I’ll post next week, is in the long category!

Both poems nominated were published in my book Monstrous, Interactive Press, 2020. You can see all of the nominated poems here. Some of them can be read by clicking on the title. Very happy to see at least one other Australian poet there, Jenny Blackford, and Tim Jones, of New Zealand. Go Southern Hemisphere!

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Mouthing off

She’s a shark, you know, a tiny one,

armed with milk teeth and coins.

She severs fingers, not legs,

hiding in lawnmowers, which she stops,

until an enquiring hand reaches

to unblock the green-clogged blades.

She strikes, starts the engine,

and the dumb machine gets the blame.

No-one sees her, flying off with the digit —

they mistake her sharp chortle for canaries,

the rattle of a hula hoop of surplus teeth

is heard as a cicada’s solo. She shimmies,

perched on a convenient tree,

and tucks into her well-earned, self-saucing snag.

Delightfully light, she flits on,

gathers a few more teeth, threads them,

bites a few puppies, enjoys the way

that the local pitbulls get the flak.

Her original teeth were removed long ago

in a futile attempt to stop her munching

on fingers, toes, and pets like candy.

She moved into kiddies’ teeth;

a penny there, then a dollar or a Euro.

She enjoys endless, free-market chomping,

glueing a new set every Sunday,

formed from that sweet, calcium-rich bandolier.

If a knife misses carrot

and finds flesh, it is surely

our invisible sprite who abbreviates the hand.

Carpenters have felt a sudden

blunting of their grip as ‘a chisel slipped’,

but the wound is surprisingly multi-edged.

A tiny rose of white thorn-petals removed

the formerly useful pointer, or mere pinkie,

if it was only time for a hasty snack.

Just recently, she has diversified,

depositing a few teeth into the ears

of the children who put them under pillows,

investing in her profession’s future.

They dream of fingers. They dream of wings.

PS Cottier

Just had a new poem published at Not Very Quiet, an online journal of women’s poetry. The theme was ‘mask’, which immediately made me think of how useless a mask would be against ghosts. I hope you enjoy the poem, and do look at the rest of the issue, which was edited by Moya Pacey and Sandra Renew.

Launches

March 11, 2021

Very happy to have a double launch for my books Utterly (Ginninderra Press) and Monstrous (Interactive Press) on Monday. Judith Nangala Crispin launched Utterly from Lajamanu in the Northern Territory by Zoom, and Kaaron Warren launched Monstrous after a fairly probing Q and A session.

What a pleasure to be reading in front of a live audience again at Smiths Alternative in the city (the city being Canberra). The books were published last year, but Covid prevented any live launches or readings.

Utterly can be bought here and Monstrous here. Here’s the cover of Utterly.

Pulped Fiction

February 25, 2021

Just received my contributor’s copies of Pulped Fiction: An Anthology of Microlit edited by Cassandra Atherton. Spineless Wonders is the publisher.

It’s a real challenge to write to a strict word count. I wrote a 200 word piece about strange worms that morph into stranger butterflies, called ‘Tudes’. All of the pieces are playing with genre in some way.

March is going to be really busy; launches, readings and a huge pile of books to review. I also hope to be writing for this blog more frequently.