Poem: No genie, no wish

September 2, 2022

No genie, no wish

I thought it was a safe dwelling,
this huge shell, bright blue,
blooming on sand.
Not petty house for me, no
scrummaging for dangerous weeks.
My belly needs support,
is un-calcified, tending to slump.
I need other species to form
places for me to hide, to live,
and from where I scavenge,
daily, for minute bites of food.
Imagine my joy, at this mansion,
the cavity through which I pushed
an eager few centimetres of crab.
And now I find myself trapped,
unable to live in this blue world.
When I die, I send out a cry,
not in words but scent,
telling other hermits that a shell
has become vacant, and so,
how many others will meet inside
this treacherous, plastic tomb?
A million such containers
cover the beaches’ sheets of sand,
a kaleidoscope of pain.
Fake promises of security,
washing up with very wave.
I am a message, trapped inside
a blue bottle of disaster,
an artificial gift of doom.

PS Cottier

Hermit crabs are dying inside plastic and glass waste washed up on Australia’s remote islands: https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2019/12/05/what-happens-when-hermit-crabs-confuse-plastic-trash-shells-an-avalanche-death/

Cassowary

July 15, 2022

Dave Kimble, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Cassowary

Only the emu and ostrich outgrow them, 
these flightless, man-sized, razored birds,
scuttling through the thick leaf litter 
like a nightmare turkey; all wattle and claw.
I hear you run at 50 K an hour,
leap fences like a show-jumper,
and swim like a plumed platypus.
Long-lived as any cockatoo,
deep-voiced as a baritone, you strode
your forests these many million years.
Accessorised bright blue and red, 
you balance on stretched palm-leaf feet, 
and only fight when there is no escape.
But no bird can outrun the ropes
of road we push into your world,
those hard nets of bitumen, tightening
like a noose around Queensland's neck.
Huge eggs hatched for aeons
before we brought pigs and dogs and cars
into that humid, secret, fruitful world.
However brave the male who guards
the heap of leaf which hides 
tomorrow's clutch of many birds,
he can't see us off, with our strangling wire,
and our certain need for boundaries.
Cassowaries wear their casques like crowns;
but how long can the regal booming sound,
or chicks survive, in their bright-striped down?

P.S. Cottier

I wrote that poem over ten years ago, and it was first published in The Canberra Times.  I am republishing it as I saw my first wild cassowary earlier this week in far north Queensland, where they live.  A male with a single chick revealed himself after six hours searching.

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: 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?

Utterly arrival

July 2, 2020

utterlyarrival

Very happy to see my book Utterly in the flesh, straight from Ginninderra Press. Utterly has many poems about the environment and climate change, as well as more personal concerns. It can be ordered here (dispatching from the 13th July). Or through Amazon, etc.

My second book during the virus lockdown, although things are gradually getting back to normal in Canberra. I will be holding a physical launch for Utterly later in the year, probably alongside Monstrous (see last post). It’s hard to plan anything at the moment, although we are having a much easier time here in Canberra than parts of Melbourne (not to mention various other countries).

Regardless of the launch situation, it’s a wonderful thing to hold one’s own book!