The worst statue in Australia?

In Cairns, there’s a Captain Cook.
Of course, you say, he’s everywhere,
a kind of cane toad, or rabbit,
with a nicer, powdery wig.
But, and do my eyes deceive me?
in Cairns he’s saluting.
A Nazi salute. But, you say
(again), James lived long before
the Nazis. And you’d be right.
Yet someone built this… ‘art’
long after the Nazis.
Someone placed it in front of
the Endeavour Inn, now gone.
Now Nazi Cook stands there,
all forlorn, ugly as Ugly’s ugly uncle,
giving his tireless salute.
The mind boggles. And yet, I say,
given the way his arrival
heralded attempted genocide,
maybe his inadvertent Nazi salute
makes a kind of sense?
This statue, which would last
ten minutes in Canberra
(that’s as in the place people live,
not the places politicians gather)
is just as grim as facts.
So perhaps this is the best statue
of Cook in Australia?
Not aesthetically, for it’s foul,
foul as a nightmare’s farts,
but historically?
I’m not the first to comment
on Cairns’s Nazi Cook.
And yet still he stands, gesturing,
truly obscene, seen on the way
to the Reef (the Frankland Islands
named by yes, you know who)
or back. You can’t see it
without the words ‘topple’
or ‘Aussie-mandias’ coming to mind.
Cairns’s Cook kicks pale mythology
quite out of decent bounds.
Unspeakably ugly, laughably gross,
and, it must be said, somewhat true.

PS Cottier

Nazi Cook

The Cairns Cook is aesthetically disgusting. At least one Indigenous artist, Munganbana Norman Miller, has taken action to address it, politically. (Note that the headline suggests that putting a ‘Sorry’ sign on the statue was vandalising it; I think that anything would improve this statue, apart from the fact that putting a sign on it is hardly vandalism. The article itself has a different tone.)

Seeing this thing made me realise that Australia really is a big place, politically. (‘Canberra vegan poet investigates Far North Queensland in one week stay!’) I have been trying to find a way to talk about it for a couple of months now, putting it in the context of debates about what we do with statues that are problematic. (That’s a link to an article by Paul Daley.)

You can read a little more about the building of this Cook statue here. That article says the gesture is copied from a painting of Cook ‘protecting’ Aborigines, which adds to the mix. There’s a much better photo there; mine was taken in a mini-bus in a state of shocked amusement. (But note that there’s a sign saying you can win a trip to Las Vegas under him, in my photo, and something about the Cock and Bull. Cook and Bull?)

Cairns, statue aside, is beautiful.

Tuesday poem: (Getting old)

January 29, 2018

Getting old —
I mix Laphroaig
with TISM

PS Cottier

If anyone isn’t familiar with TISM, here they are below at the Collingwood Town Hall. And yes, I found myself watching and listening to them while sipping a single malt and filling in my wee whisky book, which consists of meaningful comments such as ‘very nice’, ‘peaty!’ and ‘lovely’.

Once you know that Auchentoshan is not the sound of someone sneezing, it’s all downhill.

blood elephant

Blood elephant
bathes in human river
tusk intact

PS Cottier

Now, next time someone is saying what a beautiful sport surfing is, bear this photo in mind. The person who injured his head (and inadvertently caused the painting of the blood elephant to drain itself onto his shirt) drove two hours home from the coast, with a head injury that required six stitches. Past at least two hospitals.

I think that goes beyond the merely gnarly.

***

In other, less gruesome news, my poem ‘The ineffable boredom of Polonius’ is one of many making up a performance anthology of Canberra poetry, being produced very soon.  The play is called Under Sedation: Canberra Verse Remixed, and it will be at the Street Theatre, from September 29 (preview) to October 14. The director (and the person who compiled the anthology) is Adele Chynoweth, and the actors are Ruth Pieloor and Ben Drysdale.

Here is a list of the poets whose work will appear (apologies for any typos):

A.D.Hope (whose work provided the title of the production), Andi and George Band, Greg Appel, Dorothy Auchterloine, Burrows, Michael Byrne, Adrian Caesar, David Campbell, Coda Conduct (Sally Coleman & Erica Mallet), Malcolm Coller, P.S.Cottier, Vesna Cvjeticanin, Michael Dransfield, Chris Endrey & Bec Taylor, Niloofar Fanaiyan, Bela Farkas, Fun Machine, Kevin Gilbert, Paul Hetherington, Suzie Higgie, J.C.Inman, Subhash Jaireth, Aaron Kirby, Victoria McGrath, Mark O’Connor, Lizz Murphy, Omar Musa, Geoff Page, Anita Patel, Sandra Renew, Sarah Rice, Fred Smith Melinda Smith, John Karl Stokes and Monique Suna.

I can’t wait to see the production.  Here is the director, Adele Chynoweth, who recently (last night, in fact) launched a book by Sandra Renew at Smiths Alternative.   I hope this is the image you remember from this post!

AC

 

 

Not the full Fiat

Pushing up, lying back,
I imagine a Fiat 500
clamped to the end of my toes,
flying into space.
500cc, 500 kilos,
give or take,
that darling wee Italian.
I am at 450kg, so not
the full Fiat, not yet,
but it’s like birthing a bambina.
Or bambino, for weight
doesn’t discriminate.
My knees swell like tyres.

PS Cottier

1968-1972_Fiat_500L

Yes, possibly the boastiest poem ever. I am managing, sometimes, to load 400kg on the leg press and to push it up and back, even if not far enough down to be beautiful.  (The machine itself weighs about 50kgs, without added plates.)

The statement ‘weight doesn’t discriminate’ is a bit iffy, as obviously, most men can move more weight at the gym. Upper body particularly. But the leg press is a bit of an equaliser, I think.  Or could be, as I have to say that most women are less likely to push themselves to the point of vomiting than the current writer, who is just discovering strength at a comparatively advanced age.

I have no idea if this particular 500 is 500 kilos or not, but it looks great, and allows me to include the word Spotto!  Which has to be a good thing.

(Image by TTTNIS Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.)

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.