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.

All hail the tip turkey

Tip turkey works through the plastic — a TROJAN
Tip turkey has no time for posing — he’s no STATUE
Tip Turkey is adorned with smears — a saucy TOMATO
Tip Turkey cries to the sky — frogs smoking CIGARETTES
Tip turkey smells unpleasant — but not more than homely TIP
Tip turkey fell from perfect grace — some may even call him SACRED
Tip turkey is no pink flamingo — no smiling lawn adorning TIP
Tip turkey is flung at the margins — discarded CIGARETTES
Tip turkey is letting himself go — bald seedy as TOMATO
Tip turkey follows reckless trash — a tributary STATUE
Tip turkey has no hidden surprise — he’s no TROJAN

Poet’s note: Tip turkey is a common name for Threskiornis moluccus, the Australian white ibis.

PS Cottier

20170927_161516

The tip turkey came second in a recent poll of Australia’s favourite bird, beaten by a beak by the magpie. I voted for the budgie or the cockatoo; I can’t really remember. The idea of a ‘favourite bird’ is a bit silly, after all! This poem has been rummaging in the bins of my writing folder for ages, so I thought I’d share it.

The poem was originally called ‘But in the air they make such lovely arrows’ which explains the shape, but I thought it was a tad confusing. The tip turkey above was walking down a Canberra street like a particularly smelly ballet dancer.

UPDATE: The poem’s shape is lost on phone display. Sorry.

Tuesday poem: On editing

September 11, 2017

awaw2017.jpg

Irma Gold has written a thoughtful piece about writing her story ‘The Line’ that appears in this year’s Award Winning Australian Writing.

My poem in this book, which covers both prose and poetry, is three lines in length, although I did not write it as a ‘real’ haiku. It won a contest for a poem in 50 characters or less, which means that the emphasis was on what was not spoken as much as the words that appeared. Editing and writing become virtually inseparable when the poem is so short.

I took the ‘How Tweet It Is’ title of the Fellowship of Australian Writers’ contest literally and wrote a poem called ‘The Cat’s New Beard’ which is not in the least bird-friendly. It’s about a cat eating a bird. I won’t post it here, as the book just came out, and I can’t really post an extract of a tiny poem. But here’s another short poem about the process of editing a wee poem about a bird.

Plucking words
too many feathers —
bantam or robin?

Now a bantam is bigger than a robin, just as Batman is bigger than the Boy Wonder, so robin is probably the better option.

I am enjoying reading the book, which contains everything from evocative stories (Irma) to dead canaries (me). Why not purchase one? The editor is Pia Gaardboe.

20170720_113506

bikes sticks birds
inner city Canberra
feathered bustle

PS Cottier

heron july

This beautiful bird was photographed in ‘inner city’ Canberra, a few kilometres from Parliament House. It was walking around a pond, one that was relatively recently created as part of a project to return some of Sullivan’s Creek to a more, um, creek-like state rather than the concrete drain it has been for a while.

In my little book Paths Into Inner Canberra I talk about this effort to recreate a ‘natural’ environment in a little more depth. But it’s great to be able to spot creatures like this heron so near to where I live.

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.