Forty-league boots

We cross the Pacific
leaping between plastic islands.
Great ballooning whales
squeak beneath our soles,
harpooned by our heels.
We  are the waste-walkers —
everyone her own Jesus.

PS Cottier

under-water

So we’re contributing to the flooding of small Pacific nations, while creating huge floating islands of trash. Gives a whole new meaning to the word recycling. ‘We’, in this context, refers to all the industrial economies that refuse to take global warming seriously.

And I know Jesus walked on water, not convenient piles of trash, but it seemed to make a kind of sense.

car with crest

The innocence of Nissan
corrupted by the cockatoo —
fifty squawks an hour.

PS Cottier

Now this is beyond obscure for those who do not live surrounded by huge flocks of sulphur crested cockatoos, as we do in Canberra. They sit in trees and throw unwanted food items at passers-by (or so it seems). When I saw this car, I pictured them taking over the world, and remaking it in the image of the sulphur crested cockatoo.

Which wouldn’t be such a bad thing. (Unless they created Donald Trump, who is also somewhat cresty. Though substantially less gorgeous.)

bigstock_Cockatoo_2821596

Muse with beak

Cockatoos

Yes, we’ve heard their sad repetitions,
the ‘pieces of eight’, the rote ‘Pretty boys’,
dropped from tired beaks like peanut shells;
birds bored far beyond the thinning bone.
Compulsive as a handwasher who never
satisfies herself against germy armies
(save her hands are gloved in blood,
and cleansed into gauntlets of agony)
the caged bird will repeat this or that,
sigh, then hear that weird word clever,
thrown at his misery like a charity coin,
a beggar at our table of meaning.

But to see them treed, hanging upside-down,
greeting wet wind like a blown umbrella,
yellow winking at sun like a wicked punch-line,
raucous joy a cascade of brassy cunning sax;
this is the true sound of this bossy bright thing.
Why quibble about what they know, or don’t?
A screech floats to ground like a metal bird,
cut with tin-shears by a half-blind drunk,
so gratingly loud that ears are near-shorn.
Cockatoos mar the sky with jagged freedom,
as far from a nightingale’s sweet treacle
as a sudden mouthful of shattered glass.

PS Cottier

grandville-cockatoo

An old poem this, but there are so many cockatoos in Canberra at the moment that I thought I would post it again.  I think of dinosaurs every time I hear one screech.  Whether that is unkind to dinosaurs is something we can’t know.

Feral

Feral is the weed that walks hops or swims
that we seeded here first of all.
Like weapons in Afghanistan to fight Russians,
they shoot back against the giver, given time.
The irony in the soil, the punch-line
that keeps moving.
They are the spoonful of toad that never
helped the sugar.

The feral is the new devil;
we burn them, use their live bodies for cricket,
run them over.
They are our scapegoats, scapetoads, scapecarp,
whipping boys for our royal, stupid selves.

Varmint, pest, pets gone wild, rejigged —
dancing to their own tune.

PS Cottier

shriek-timidity

Continuing thoughts about what is a weed from my last post, this week I touch on feral pests, with which Australia is now teeming, after 200 years of colonisation/invasion.

Cane toads are probably amongst the most famous, although even cats multiply like mice (ew!) here, and feed on parrots and lizards and all the tiny marsupials that most Australians in cities have never seen.

I am working on a sequence based on this; though trying to organise my thoughts is like teaching cane toads manners.  (And that’s not a cane toad above, but it is a cool illustration, courtesy of the wonderful resource Old Book Illustrations.)  The guy peeping at the main figure is 100% Gandalf, and I’m sure he has Powers over toads.

Either that or he uses them for their interesting secretions.

Pages like football fields

People try to bring home
what is happening in the Amazon
and they reach for metaphors, like tools.
They hope to find the metaphor
to push reluctant minds into consciousness.
A metaphor as useful as a chainsaw
that fells a thousand year old tree.

Some people turn to mother
and speak of the earth’s bosom.
Or of a green girdle
(Mother is an unfashionable dame)
or of wombs and fecundity.
When they really work themselves up,
They speak of raping the earth,
which must equate to removing a girdle
In such people’s minds.

Still others take a sporting approach,
calculating the number of football fields
lost to the dozer each minute.
Suggesting that if we only blew a magic whistle,
the infringement would cease, fair play break out.
Such people tackle issues head on,
so long as the goals are clear, and the weather fine,
they’ll take a punt at converting you.

And of course the difficulty is that what happens
Is no metaphor at all, nor a smiling simile.
What is lost, can not be substituted.
It is this process of substitution
which allows some to think money
when they see that thousand year tree.
Just as others call starvation, debt.
These things stand in for each other,
support each other.
That is the problem with minting too many metaphors.
They prop up things that should be brought down.

However, let me present one more.

If this page were the rainforest,
the letters its constituent parts:
jaguar, fungus, creeper, human,
then in twenty years (or less)
the man who borrowed this book from the library
would have ripped it out, jaggedly.
By doing so, he has caused
all the book to unravel.
Slothfully it started,
leaves dropped daily,
the spine collapsed.
Now it is not a book.
punctuation is gone
pages and w rds have g

PS Cottier

bigstock_Dead_Planet_Earth_9559400

This comes from my first book, The Glass Violin, published way back in 2008. I just reread it recently, and thought that it had held up quite well.

Mind you, I have been known to select Sheena Easton’s ‘My Baby Takes the Morning Train’ to play at the gym, so I am by no means to be trusted.