Tuesday poem: Paraskavedekatriaphobia

August 26, 2013


Yes, lock the door. Tight. Check and check again.
Did you move the spare key hidden under the concrete swagman?
The unlucky swagman who drowned himself in the iconic creek?
Open door. Remove key. Lock door. Check and check again.

Make a cup of tea. Kettle is broken. Use the stove.
Sip slowly; only twelve hours to go. Enjoy the aroma. Peace.
God, God, do you smell gas? Yes, yes; check the stove for leaks.
Check each knob for verticality. Check and check again.

Germs! There are always germs. Clean and clean again.
Polish the door handles. Remove all swagman germs.
Clean the cup, the stove, the pot. Scrub hands. Disinfect.
Judas germs hide under nails. Check and check again.

Slip once and slip again. Polish is so slip slippery;
floors are ice-rinks to ug-boots. You trip and fall;
fall into the bath of steaming Dettol. Can’t move.
Broken neck. Swagman’s death. Die and die again.

P.S. Cottier

*Paraskavedekatriaphobia is the morbid fear of Friday the 13th.

‘Paraskavedekatriaphobia’ published in ACT Writers Centre Poets’ Lunch anthology (Boris Books) called Friday 13th. Selected by Michael Byrne and Paul Kooperman.

Lots of fun to write a poem laughing at irrational fears. So long as they are other people’s irrational fears, hm?

Now I promise that the following feather, although black, has no evil powers or even tendencies. Click it, fly to New Zealand, read poetry.

Just avoid any flying concrete swagmen on the way.

Tuesday Poem

9 Responses to “Tuesday poem: Paraskavedekatriaphobia”

  1. I like the choppy – chopped up – here comes the chopper! – lines in this poem, and it reminded me of the Steely Dan song “Black Friday”, in which I was surprised to find this stanza:

    When Black Friday comes
    I’ll fly down to Muswellbrook
    Gonna strike all the big red words
    From my little black book
    Gonna do just what I please
    Gonna wear no socks and shoes
    With nothing to do but feed
    All the kangaroos
    When Black Friday comes I’ll be on that hill
    You know I will

    I think of Steely Dan as a quintessentially American band, but … Muswellbrook? Kangaroos? Sockless, shoeless musos in (presumably) thongs? There are matters here for the Australian people to ponder.

  2. Ah! Always good to come to a new word! This is good stuff. Must share!

    • pscottier said

      I’ve read this out in public a couple of times. It is important to drink just enough, so that one feels one will pronounce the word, but not too much so that one slurs.

      Not that anyone is likely to notice, really, Michelle.

  3. Ooh, coming soon to a September near you!

  4. Hmm that’s one great word. I would like to hear you saying it over and over again! Maybe it would stop any fears…concentrating on the pronunciation I mean. I like to think it a lucky day then theres all that peer pressure…:-)

    • pscottier said

      There’s an old Australian tradition that I just made up, Helen, where you must say the word thirteen times while twirling while holding a billy full of tea in your left hand.

      You could introduce that to New Zealand…

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