February 20, 2017
What I see is not forever
Around the world we hear
that sweetness is dwindling;
at least the bee-borne sort.
They’re in my garden though,
have claimed the bird bath
as bee bath, sipping relief
from forty harsh degrees.
Colonies are collapsing.
Sudden buzzless fields,
quiet stingless grasses —
husk bodies whisper warnings.
Yet here, this weird abundance,
writing a million hovering lines.
How long? I ask the bees.
But bees know neither science
nor faith, except, perhaps,
that this shallow bath
holds water, and may yet
cup a cool tomorrow or two.
Read about hive collapse syndrome: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/australian-scientists-may-have-solved-the-mystery-of-bee-colony-collapse-20150209-13a6ss.html
I am always frustrated by the kind of comment to articles about climate change that says ‘Well it’s cold in [insert locale] now so global warming is nothing to worry about!’. This got me thinking that the abundance of bees in my garden may be something that could disappear quite quickly; that one person’s eyes are never enough to give a comprehensive view.
Whether the fate of the bees is directly related to climate change is something I don’t know, but their dwindling numbers is a worrying phenomenon.
February 15, 2017
I remember the lost skirt of Carlton
Nimble and nineteen, perhaps twenty, I saw you;
velvet A-line, satin belt, and my heart dropped open
knowing how you would swathe me in excellence
hang just right, soft as a crop of Labrador’s dark ears.
Student poor, with a world to change, I stood outside,
longing, mental tongue lapping, dressed in thin dream.
Today, girt in husband’s semi-silken wage,
(and the splendid coin of Poesie)
I could command your like be snipped
to the pattern of sweet memory.
But my waist has grown
along with his pay,
so perfect skirt, in time or space,
will always always
Based on a True Incident, this is a very old, but (I think) unpublished poem. It describes a true first world problem, but both Canberra and Melbourne (of which Carlton is a university infested suburb, or just about) are in the first world, so that’s hardly surprising.
Fashion is interesting in that usually only young people look the best in retro or vintage gear; people assume that middle-aged people have been wearing 50s gear since it was new, and just forgot to change over the intervening decades.
Speaking of change, this seems to mark a difference from the usual socio-political cleverness for which this blog is known by some! And hello to you, dear Some.
February 7, 2017
I am very happy to have my first publication in India.
The poem ‘Canberra’ appears in the book Capitals, edited by Abhay K. The anthology contains poems about nearly all of the world’s capital cities, and is published by Bloomsbury, India. I came across this YouTube film of the book being launched recently at the Jaipur Literature Festival, by Ruth Padel:
Canberra is represented by two poems; the other one is by Michelle Cahill, which I am hanging out to read. So we’re really writing above our weight division in terms of population, particularly as Oceania is merged with Asia in the book.
I am very much looking forward to receiving my contributor’s copy. Here is the cover, which is stompingly cool:
I responded to a call-out for poems for the anthology on the Australian Poetry website, and feel honoured to be included with my mild little poem about Canberra. Poets in the anthology include Ms Padel, the late Mahmoud Darwish, Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva and Derek Walcott. Just shows that you should always submit a poem if the project interests you. You have nothing to lose but your quatrains, as Marx didn’t say.
Most of all though, I’m delighted to be published in India, which is home to the world’s second largest number of speakers of English. It makes a welcome change from Oz or the USA. My poems are becoming much more well-travelled than I am! (I’m usually beyond rapt when I do a reading in Melbourne or Sydney.)
UPDATE: I just I just found out that the Jaipur Literature Festival is coming to Melbourne! Exciting stuff.
January 30, 2017
Moderately threatening bird
Between budgie and hawk
you flutter your mild wings,
which still cause wee jumps
in heart rate or blood pressure －
more wallaby than pole vault.
You don’t pick eyes out
like ravens of ill repute
(though I’ve always been partial
to those most Victorian birds).
You don’t trade messages with the dead,
or lead the undead back to tossed bed
of sea doona, or semen sheet.
Yet you are somewhat disquieting,
with your cleverness beyond our control.
So we clip your wings, and ignore
the unclipped birds flocking in our heads.
Ideas swarm like sparrows
and each one is falling into dread.
Something weird is happening with that poem’s formatting, in that it won’t let me insert a proper em dash, just a hyphen. Moderately threatening glitches/your less successful witches/wedged in the keyboard like sandwich ham. (Said witches also make you experiment with Instant Poetry, which is A Truly Dangerous Thing.)
For those in Canberra, I’ll be doing a reading at University House next week, Wednesday 8th of February. This is the series that used to be at The Gods, and the other readers are Chloe Wilson and Keith Harrison. You can eat there before, should you wish, from 6pm, and the readings start at 7.30pm, in the Drawing Room. It costs $5 for the unwaged and $10 for those with gainful employment. (Otherwise called Not Full-time Poets.)
I’ll be reading my usual mix of poems about elves, and poems with a serious political slant. Often both exist in the same poems. I sometimes think I should do a collection called Fairies of Social Realism Playing Football on Mars. Or perhaps I already did.
The new year is finally picking up, and I have had news of a couple of forthcoming publications, which I shall post about soon, witches permitting.
January 20, 2017
On the sticky retirement of myth
Pegasus got too old
so Bellerophon melted him for glue.
Useless glue; for each pot is full
of feathers. Lovely scrapbooks
are ruined by inconvenient discards,
as grandmothers grow downy beards,
and babies sport Trumpy wigs.
And they fly into the air, too,
the photos, nay, the very books,
and escape into the ether,
to gallivant with feckless clouds.
Never use a famous wingéd horse,
where a broken legged nag will do.
There’s a bit of my recently adopted veganism peeking around the corner of that poem!
A thoughtful review of my chapbook Quick Bright Things: Poems of Fantasy and Myth just appeared at the Science Fiction Poetry Association website (also extracts of the review appear in in Star*Line, the Association’s journal). The reviewer is Sandra J. Lindow, a well-known poet in the speculative field. (The review appears quite a way down the linked page.)
Ms Lindow writes of the chapbook that that ‘(t)he tone clip-clops down a slope elevated by the language [of] Victorian fairy-lore poetry…’. I hadn’t consciously thought of that, but she is quite right. That’s what happens when you write a PhD on Dickens, I guess! And Goblin Market has always fascinated me. The review refers to Christina Rossetti, author of that long poem.
Nice to have an Australian chapbook reviewed at the US based site. I am a member of the SFPA, and recommend it to anyone interested in science fiction, horror, or fantasy poetry.
I was rapt to read that ‘P.S. Cottier’s slender chapbook of nineteen fantastic poems is like an elegant carriage ride through a department store of social criticism.’ Or perhaps I should say enraptured, in keeping with that older time?
Now I’m putting my fingers in my ears and repeating ‘la-la-la’ during a certain inauguration ceremony. Feel free to join in.