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

This one is via a link to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, site.   If you scroll right down the page you will find a free PDF anthology to download, full of excellent poems about plants.  The anthology is called New Shoots, and was created by Red Room Poetry, Rochford Street Review, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.

wattle et moi

My poem, at page 50, is called ‘The Cootamundra Wattle’, and here’s a somewhat coy looking poet peeping out from behind a wattle last year.  The anthology is really worth a look, and hopefully, a printed copy will also appear at a later date.

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.

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:

cover-image-of-capitals-3

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.)

The book can be ordered through Amazon India, from late April, according to that site, or from Bloomsbury, also in April.  No doubt it will be available elsewhere as well.

UPDATE: I just I just found out that the Jaipur Literature Festival is coming to Melbourne!  Exciting stuff.

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.

PS Cottier

starling

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.