Two anthologies for spring

October 20, 2018

Very happy to have a poem in Best Australian Science Writing 2018, edited by John Pickrell (NewSouth Books), and another one in Poetry Bridges: Canberra/Nara Commemorative Anthology, edited by Saeko Ogi, Amelia Fielden and Noriko Tanaka (Ginninderra Press).

I just attended the launch of this second one, and it was a delight to hear the poems, including mine, translated into Japanese.  There is a Nara launch next month, where the Japanese poems will no doubt also be read in English.  Nara and Canberra are sister cities, and have been for 25 years. BASW is being launched in Sydney in November.

poetry bridges

basw

I am on two panels at Quantum Words in a couple of weeks; this is a day long festival looking at science and writing in Sydney. One is specifically about poetry and science, the other has the unassuming title ‘Writing the Universe’ which sounds vaguely biblical to my ears! To finish off, here is a very Japanese crane, at home in Hokkaido. We were lucky enough to see them in the wild, as well as at the sanctuary.

crane

Tuesday poem: Vista

July 20, 2018

Vista

Icarus was detected, soaring over
our skies, a blush of pink cloud,
without string or anchor, sans permit.
We deployed the net squad, caged him
in a convenient place up north.
He pined, seedy as a sick canary,
pleading and rattling and moulting.
Eventually, his heart broke like a promise.
Then we let him in,
just before it fluttered its last.
The man-flamingo had a lot to tell us,
and science has legitimate needs.

PS Cottier

waves-over-me

This poem was originally written as an entry for an ekphrastic poetry competition (not the image I include above) but I forgot to enter. As I was going to Japan, I forgive this errant dickheadedness, and the poem stands on its own, I think.

***

I am not one to pretend to know Japan because they spent 11 days there. But one thing I did learn is that Japanese mascots are far cooler than ours. Melon Kuma from Hokkaido is, as the name suggests, half melon, half bear, and given to biting the heads off other mascots (at least). I’ll leave you to google him, if you dare…Or here’s his Facebook page.

French police cut soles off migrant children’s shoes

And some would say
the illegality would be to the property,
the abused ownership of the shoes,
not the feet, blistered by hope,
the minds, yearning; the law’s barriers
are clear, clear as any fence.
Dubbed illegal, shoes truncated,
the children are sent back on trains.
Sole-less shoes are the new sans culottes,
as the French police cut the fashion.
And we, smug, tut-tut, and lock
the lame and the pregnant off-shore.
We cut the map, turn the sea into walls.
We are surgeons of souls, and watch,
as young men take the final step
and launch themselves, shoeless,
into another world, with hidden knife,
or rope, knot, and quick-flipped chair.

PS Cottier

The poem’s title derives from a headline in The Guardian, 15-6-18, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/14/french-border-police-accused-of-cutting-soles-off-migrant-childrens-shoes

shoes

Normally I’d be posting a football poem at the moment, however this piece in The Guardian engendered a poem admittedly about feet, but most definitely not about the beautiful game.

Budgerigar

Ten million green commas punctuate blue sky,
quick breaths of swooping wonder, multiplied.
Water-hole is your target; liquid rope pulls you down
and the whole emerald sky is falling, diving,
as miniature bodies scoop into pool.
Your individual markings have taken you
further than native flight; outside the Louvre
I saw you, cold, trying to break in, as pointillist
as Pissarro but acrylic in your finish.
A proud but damp escapee from French balcony,
regretting the lost seed and the found liberty.
So plump and fresh, I have heard you were good eating,
a winging fast food charred to a turn;
as far from stringy battery chook as fingers in the fire.
Most know you singly; whistling in cages,
bowing and bobbing, rattling plastic mirrors.
Driven mad you ring and ring chink-chinky bells
or make love to that hard, hard-to-get reflection.
What joy to see you
just once, as you swoop,
one stitch amongst the tapestry,
a blade of grass in feathered turf carpet, magically landing,
transforming dreary waterside with that fallen sward of Eire.
Swift dragon of twenty million wings,
fluorescing with your simple, beak-filled joys.

P.S.Cottier

artist at work

After boasting in various places that I post a new poem every week, here’s a repeat one for you! (Which is a damn subtle humblebrag…) That’s Chomp in the picture above, and I have to be careful, or I’ll join the endless stream of people blogging about pets.

Feral

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.

PS Cottier

shriek-timidity

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.