Tuesday poem: Palm cockatoos

July 16, 2012

Palm cockatoos

Heads like a child’s drawing of bird heads,
huge beaks and feather manes, flopping,
last extant beat-poets, croaking of things
hep and cool. Man, you hit bedrock
on that arching drum, selecting the sticks
that give the deepest echo, sound playing
through tall wooden amplifier,
from dark roots to hazy blow of sky.
You contemplate the waving tops
of tropical trees, plumed angel-head,
stylish in your black daytime rhythm.
Inimitable pulsing punctuation,
beaky accent perched above
the forest’s bright green flow.

(The palm cockatoo is the only wild animal known to select, and possibly to store, sticks for use as musical instruments.)

P.S. Cottier

I am fascinated by palm cockatoos, although I have never even seen one. They live in the far tropical north of Queensland.  The tattoo comes from much closer Queanbeyan, just over the border in New South Wales.

So why would you get a tattoo of a bird you have never seen? A little reminder that there are more things in heaven and earth…an encouragement to discover new worlds and boldly go…a cheap and less seedy way of being a pirate?

I don’t know, but I think the tattoo artist did a good job. (Thank you Carbine.) I have posted a black and white photo as the colour one I have makes my skin look a rather alarming yellow: just below nuclear buttercup.  I will try and obtain a better photo, as the detail is blurred in this one. But this is my cockatattoo forever looking for sticks. My skin is the drum. Watch your finger!

For poetry, much of which is written in a country where tattoos are not unknown, please press this feather:
Tuesday Poem

14 Responses to “Tuesday poem: Palm cockatoos”

  1. Wonderful poem and I love how you reveal your own relationship to this bird in your comment. Thanks for sharing and please do post the colour photo when you can — we can all wear sunglasses while viewing the nuclear yellow.

  2. This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing.

  3. harvey said

    Love it! ‘croaking of things/ hep and cool’; there’s such a good sense of fun in the poem; it’s so vibrant. Thanks.

    • pscottier said

      I do hope that I see one at some point, Harvey. A real one, I mean. Hope it’s not in a zoo either, but that would be better than nothing.

      Glad you liked it.

  4. Lovely poem – I can almost see the black beret and the fingers clicking in the smoky jazz club. Great tattoo, too – lots of detail, which I hope wasn’t too painful!

    • pscottier said

      Pain? I laugh at at pain! (When I’m not crying.) It wasn’t too bad, actually. Or there’d be half a parrot.

      The poem was first published in extempore, a journal of writing on jazz and improvised music. And, in one case at least, birds.

      Thanks Tim.

  5. Helen Lowe said

    Fascinating poem, Penelope; I enjoyed reading it.

  6. Really enjoyed this Penelope. It’s so vibrant and full of sound and colour. A great way to start my afternoon. And the tattoo… an appropiate way to celebrate such a creature.

  7. You’re Awesome Dude Nice one Poem

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