Rhysling nominations: ‘Mouthing off’

March 25, 2021

Very happy that two of my poems have been nominated for the Rhysling Awards, which are annual awards for the best speculative poetry published in the previous calendar year. The award is organised by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, based in the United States. Poems are nominated by members of the SFPA (but you can’t nominate your own poems) and published in The Rhysling Anthology. The editor of this year’s anthology is Alessandro Manzetti. Members vote for their favourite poems in two categories. This week’s poem has been nominated in the short category. I think you can guess that the other poem, which I’ll post next week, is in the long category!

Both poems nominated were published in my book Monstrous, Interactive Press, 2020. You can see all of the nominated poems here. Some of them can be read by clicking on the title. Very happy to see at least one other Australian poet there, Jenny Blackford, and Tim Jones, of New Zealand. Go Southern Hemisphere!

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Mouthing off

She’s a shark, you know, a tiny one,

armed with milk teeth and coins.

She severs fingers, not legs,

hiding in lawnmowers, which she stops,

until an enquiring hand reaches

to unblock the green-clogged blades.

She strikes, starts the engine,

and the dumb machine gets the blame.

No-one sees her, flying off with the digit —

they mistake her sharp chortle for canaries,

the rattle of a hula hoop of surplus teeth

is heard as a cicada’s solo. She shimmies,

perched on a convenient tree,

and tucks into her well-earned, self-saucing snag.

Delightfully light, she flits on,

gathers a few more teeth, threads them,

bites a few puppies, enjoys the way

that the local pitbulls get the flak.

Her original teeth were removed long ago

in a futile attempt to stop her munching

on fingers, toes, and pets like candy.

She moved into kiddies’ teeth;

a penny there, then a dollar or a Euro.

She enjoys endless, free-market chomping,

glueing a new set every Sunday,

formed from that sweet, calcium-rich bandolier.

If a knife misses carrot

and finds flesh, it is surely

our invisible sprite who abbreviates the hand.

Carpenters have felt a sudden

blunting of their grip as ‘a chisel slipped’,

but the wound is surprisingly multi-edged.

A tiny rose of white thorn-petals removed

the formerly useful pointer, or mere pinkie,

if it was only time for a hasty snack.

Just recently, she has diversified,

depositing a few teeth into the ears

of the children who put them under pillows,

investing in her profession’s future.

They dream of fingers. They dream of wings.

PS Cottier

2 Responses to “Rhysling nominations: ‘Mouthing off’”

  1. Congratulations on the nomination and this brilliantly imaginative piece. Go Southern Hemisphere indeed.

Thoughts? Carrots? Sticks? Comments? Go ahead!

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