Except for the cat

February 10, 2022

The cancer riddled Staffie, the muzzle white where it was brindle once, the Great Dane who clocked up only three years (for we breed dogs too big for their strained hearts to cope) the smelly terrier who outlived them all, sitting with the bald budgie Chomp on his head (something that would never have been allowed when the dog was alive), the coin-sized islands of terrapin, the scurry of guinea pigs, the cat that adopted you even though you don’t like cats, the many goldfish that floated to the tops of tanks, all come to greet you as you travel over to the other side. They bite and scratch and peck, and the ballooned goldfish push inside your throat, and you feel the choking although you are dead, and you realise that the animals did not enjoy their lives being stunted, to fit into your notion of pet like a blistered foot caught in a too small shoe.  Except for the cat, who never gave a shit.

PS Cottier

A fun piece of prose (poetry) in a vaguely horrific way. As an editor, I’m amazed by how many poems contain cats. Here’s my contribution.

Glossy black cockatoo

January 16, 2022

Spotted two glossy black cockatoos down at the coast, feasting in a (sort of) suburban yard. Is seeing them purely a good thing, given that so much of the bush burnt recently? Have they been driven beyond their comfort zone, looking for casuarina? The lovely photo of the female cockatoo was taken by a neighbour.

Trees gone glossy
gentle creaking of pods
displacement

PS Cottier

Tuesday poem: Where they go

December 8, 2021

Where they go

Full calls have no place among the clipped hedges,
the solid garages, or mere carports of suburbia.
There is indeed a farm where plucky roosters go,
invisible to the eyes of those who dispatched them
with handy axe, or squeamish vet.  In the sky 
the boy-chooks crow, show their bright red crowns, 
scratch the earth.  Executed for the lack of eggs,
they hatch sweet cockadoodle-doos to the moon.
The stars catch gleams of manic eye, 
the triumphant shake of crimson wattle.

PS Cottier

That’s a simple poem that was recently short-listed for a competition. (There are monthly competitions run by the publication Positive Words, for tiny stories and short poems.) I find it amazing how many people keep chooks but don’t think too much about the lack of male birds, all dispatched because they don’t meet our supposed needs. I’ll shut up now before I go the full vegan, and get back to perusing the 300 or so poems submitted for The Canberra Times.

Tuesday poem: Limits

October 26, 2021

Limits


‘Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live.’ 
Pope Francis


Four months ago the trees looked like trees
drawn in charcoal by a depressed artist —
simple strokes of black connecting earth
to noon-time grey, throat-choking, skies.
Now, watch the festoons of green
circling the trunks, as if strewn
by the world’s worst exterior decorator.
Such vivid newness, almost artificial
in its neon promise.  And yet,

such trees have known blazes many years,
lightning-spat, or most carefully set,
by those who shaped the land, 
farmed with fire, forty thousand years or more.
We comfort ourselves, forget that this mega-blaze,
man-made, was the very opposite of skill.
We have changed the seasons, charged
the air, dried the possibilities of rain
into a parched riverbed of loss.

Yes, the trees still push out leaves.
Frail canopy above dead mounds of wombat,
of lyre-bird-less, song-lost, ground.
The reassurance of regeneration
this time asks us how many more
times green can possibly appear.
If next year, and the next, another
blaze exceeds all history,
will even gumtrees stay gloomed —

dead sticks we poked into a lessened land?

PS Cottier


Everyone is pleased to see the bush regenerating after a fire, but how many times can it do so after the mega fires that climate change brings?

Tuesday poem: If I could

September 20, 2021

If I could

I would infiltrate this page
with seeds, which would sprout
as you read down the few lines,
and leave you with a bush
which you would plant out
and wait for the blessings of birds.

PS Cottier