Belated Tuesday Poem: Missing Melbourne

September 2, 2015

Missing Melbourne

Alleys don’t exist here. Canberra has no use
for backways streets, for furtive lanes.
Lies are a different matter, but those
architectural commas, those cobbled
night-cart ways have no place amongst
paradise refined into
quintessence of tedium.
I love my new home’s cockatoos,
their hats of lairy scorn, their satire;
sound-beakers of heavy metal
poured into pure blue air.
But I dip my memory’s lid
to the Brunswick park
with forty tail-flagged dogs,
smaller than some Canberra backyards.
So much oomph, so much poo,
and bocce, like a kiss thrown
against the deeper green,
speaking of a bigger world
of coincidence and trust.

P.S. Cottier

Not Canberra

Not Canberra

I have changed. I no longer miss Melbourne in the way I did when I wrote that poem, about 10 years ago. When I visit Melbourne now, it does not feel like a return home, but a trip to ‘somewhere else’. Even the maps in my mind of how to find things are fading.

When I first came to Canberra I searched for a centre in vain. Now I am enamoured of the space and sky here; a change just beginning in the poem, I think. If I had stayed in Melbourne, I don’t think I would be writing so much poetry, as I had more Things to Do; more distractions. Of course, I have now become more involved in Canberra’s cultural life, but I think the move from Melbourne drove me into my own head a little more than staying would have.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Poetry can be written in a truly urban environment as much as in Canberra’s semi-whateverness. I get truly sick of the fervent rural trend in much contemporary poetry, what I call the Misty Cow School. And last week I felt a retrospective sense of pride to see how many Melburnians ralled against the Border Force* stopping random people to ‘check their papers’. (If they were carrying The Australian, presumably they’d be acceptable…)

But Canberra is my home now, and I feel glad to get off the plane or bus or train here. Zireaux was kind enough to feature a series of my Canberra poems here, with his commentary.

And for further poetry, get on the Poetry Tram. Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here.

*Who designed the black uniforms? Or did they just visit a museum of WWII and copy the Nazi uniforms?

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