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!

April was the cruellest month

I miss the pub noise
Society contracts like a fist
Old people dying in dozens
Languishing/anguishing/wishing
Australia pulls up the biggest draw-bridge
Too many whiskies, no balancing gym
Idiotic President’s bleached tips
Only me and the spoilt dog
Novel coronavirus drags

PS Cottier

little-jumping-joan

I just returned from my first meal outside the home in quite a while; some restaurants, cafés and pubs in Canberra have opened for up to ten people. Curry and beer never tasted so good! May has to be better than isolated April.

The title is reworked from TS Eliot, who reworked it from Geoffrey Chaucer. Illustration by Kate Greenaway, courtesy of Old Book Illustrations.

(Is a spoiler warning necessary for a book as old as The War of the Worlds? I don’t think so, but you are warned, anyway!)

Thinking about the virus, I remembered the end of The War of the Worlds, where bacteria are our best friends, defeating the Martians. It’s a great passage which I thought I’d post, although I’m not so sure that there are no bacteria on Mars? ‘Our microscopic allies’ does seem a strange phrase in the current climate, but it makes total sense in terms of the novel.

And scattered about it, some in their overturned war-machines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the Martians—dead!—slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.

For so it had come about, as indeed I and many men might have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded our minds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things—taken toll of our prehuman ancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this natural selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to no germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many—those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance—our living frames are altogether immune. But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.

HG Wells The War of the Worlds

War_of_the_worlds_illustration_pearson
Warwick Goble