Pages like football fields

People try to bring home
what is happening in the Amazon
and they reach for metaphors, like tools.
They hope to find the metaphor
to push reluctant minds into consciousness.
A metaphor as useful as a chainsaw
that fells a thousand year old tree.

Some people turn to mother
and speak of the earth’s bosom.
Or of a green girdle
(Mother is an unfashionable dame)
or of wombs and fecundity.
When they really work themselves up,
They speak of raping the earth,
which must equate to removing a girdle
In such people’s minds.

Still others take a sporting approach,
calculating the number of football fields
lost to the dozer each minute.
Suggesting that if we only blew a magic whistle,
the infringement would cease, fair play break out.
Such people tackle issues head on,
so long as the goals are clear, and the weather fine,
they’ll take a punt at converting you.

And of course the difficulty is that what happens
Is no metaphor at all, nor a smiling simile.
What is lost, can not be substituted.
It is this process of substitution
which allows some to think money
when they see that thousand year tree.
Just as others call starvation, debt.
These things stand in for each other,
support each other.
That is the problem with minting too many metaphors.
They prop up things that should be brought down.

However, let me present one more.

If this page were the rainforest,
the letters its constituent parts:
jaguar, fungus, creeper, human,
then in twenty years (or less)
the man who borrowed this book from the library
would have ripped it out, jaggedly.
By doing so, he has caused
all the book to unravel.
Slothfully it started,
leaves dropped daily,
the spine collapsed.
Now it is not a book.
punctuation is gone
pages and w rds have g

PS Cottier

bigstock_Dead_Planet_Earth_9559400

This comes from my first book, The Glass Violin, published way back in 2008. I just reread it recently, and thought that it had held up quite well.

Mind you, I have been known to select Sheena Easton’s ‘My Baby Takes the Morning Train’ to play at the gym, so I am by no means to be trusted.

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.

PS Cottier

spring-day

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.

 

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
slip
away.

PS Cottier

fancy-dress-3

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.

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:

cover-image-of-capitals-3

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.)

The book can be ordered through Amazon India, from late April, according to that site, or from Bloomsbury, also in April.  No doubt it will be available elsewhere as well.

UPDATE: I just I just found out that the Jaipur Literature Festival is coming to Melbourne!  Exciting stuff.

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.

PS Cottier

starling

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.