March 14, 2017
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.
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.
March 7, 2017
quick bloom brightness
When is a flower not a flower? When we classify it as weed. This plant has sprung up near me, and as it is at eye height, I noticed how lovely the flowers are. However, in most gardens it would be immediately removed as a threat to lawn and order.
A little like the way we ignore the fleeting thoughts that pulse through our heads. Unless of course, we’re “mad poets”. Going to seed, every day.
February 7, 2017
I am very happy to have my first publication in India.
The poem ‘Canberra’ appears in the book Capitals, edited by Abhay K. The anthology contains poems about nearly all of the world’s capital cities, and is published by Bloomsbury, India. I came across this YouTube film of the book being launched recently at the Jaipur Literature Festival, by Ruth Padel:
Canberra is represented by two poems; the other one is by Michelle Cahill, which I am hanging out to read. So we’re really writing above our weight division in terms of population, particularly as Oceania is merged with Asia in the book.
I am very much looking forward to receiving my contributor’s copy. Here is the cover, which is stompingly cool:
I responded to a call-out for poems for the anthology on the Australian Poetry website, and feel honoured to be included with my mild little poem about Canberra. Poets in the anthology include Ms Padel, the late Mahmoud Darwish, Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva and Derek Walcott. Just shows that you should always submit a poem if the project interests you. You have nothing to lose but your quatrains, as Marx didn’t say.
Most of all though, I’m delighted to be published in India, which is home to the world’s second largest number of speakers of English. It makes a welcome change from Oz or the USA. My poems are becoming much more well-travelled than I am! (I’m usually beyond rapt when I do a reading in Melbourne or Sydney.)
UPDATE: I just I just found out that the Jaipur Literature Festival is coming to Melbourne! Exciting stuff.
January 30, 2017
Moderately threatening bird
Between budgie and hawk
you flutter your mild wings,
which still cause wee jumps
in heart rate or blood pressure －
more wallaby than pole vault.
You don’t pick eyes out
like ravens of ill repute
(though I’ve always been partial
to those most Victorian birds).
You don’t trade messages with the dead,
or lead the undead back to tossed bed
of sea doona, or semen sheet.
Yet you are somewhat disquieting,
with your cleverness beyond our control.
So we clip your wings, and ignore
the unclipped birds flocking in our heads.
Ideas swarm like sparrows
and each one is falling into dread.
Something weird is happening with that poem’s formatting, in that it won’t let me insert a proper em dash, just a hyphen. Moderately threatening glitches/your less successful witches/wedged in the keyboard like sandwich ham. (Said witches also make you experiment with Instant Poetry, which is A Truly Dangerous Thing.)
For those in Canberra, I’ll be doing a reading at University House next week, Wednesday 8th of February. This is the series that used to be at The Gods, and the other readers are Chloe Wilson and Keith Harrison. You can eat there before, should you wish, from 6pm, and the readings start at 7.30pm, in the Drawing Room. It costs $5 for the unwaged and $10 for those with gainful employment. (Otherwise called Not Full-time Poets.)
I’ll be reading my usual mix of poems about elves, and poems with a serious political slant. Often both exist in the same poems. I sometimes think I should do a collection called Fairies of Social Realism Playing Football on Mars. Or perhaps I already did.
The new year is finally picking up, and I have had news of a couple of forthcoming publications, which I shall post about soon, witches permitting.