April was the cruellest month

I miss the pub noise
Society contracts like a fist
Old people dying in dozens
Languishing/anguishing/wishing
Australia pulls up the biggest draw-bridge
Too many whiskies, no balancing gym
Idiotic President’s bleached tips
Only me and the spoilt dog
Novel coronavirus drags

PS Cottier

little-jumping-joan

I just returned from my first meal outside the home in quite a while; some restaurants, cafés and pubs in Canberra have opened for up to ten people. Curry and beer never tasted so good! May has to be better than isolated April.

The title is reworked from TS Eliot, who reworked it from Geoffrey Chaucer. Illustration by Kate Greenaway, courtesy of Old Book Illustrations.

Because so many poets and poetry books have been affected by the coronavirus, Red Room Poetry produced an anthology of poems, called In Your Hands. Each is from a book which has been in some way touched by the current lockdown. (Even though Australia really has had it easy compared to many other countries, there have been many things cancelled.) My poem ‘The belly of the gnome’ is from a forthcoming collection called Monstrous (Interactive Press) which was to be launched this month, but now isn’t. It is on p23 of the In Your Hands anthology. This link will take you to the page where the free anthology can be downloaded. Enjoy.

I will be launching my book after the restrictions ease (don’t know the date yet!).

many-gnomes

(Is a spoiler warning necessary for a book as old as The War of the Worlds? I don’t think so, but you are warned, anyway!)

Thinking about the virus, I remembered the end of The War of the Worlds, where bacteria are our best friends, defeating the Martians. It’s a great passage which I thought I’d post, although I’m not so sure that there are no bacteria on Mars? ‘Our microscopic allies’ does seem a strange phrase in the current climate, but it makes total sense in terms of the novel.

And scattered about it, some in their overturned war-machines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the Martians—dead!—slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.

For so it had come about, as indeed I and many men might have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded our minds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things—taken toll of our prehuman ancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this natural selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to no germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many—those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance—our living frames are altogether immune. But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.

HG Wells The War of the Worlds

War_of_the_worlds_illustration_pearson
Warwick Goble

Tiny quick lassos
flung out by coronaboys —
all virus wrangled

PS Cottier

wild-cow-boy

What is the appropriate attitude to this virus? Although it is obviously serious, humour is sometimes necessary as a survival mechanism, particularly as we’re not able to go out so much.

I had a dream about nanobots, and turned that into coronaboys. Like cowboys, but fully wee.

He’s alive!

April 12, 2020

Jeroni_Jacint_Espinosa,_maria_Magdalena

Coming back to normal civil society after the virus has made us all keep our distance will be a mini-resurrection, I think. Personally, I intend to frequent a great many establishments that serve whisky, and go to the gym. Because nothing says normality like dead-lifting with a hangover…