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.

 

 

 

ship-went-away

Frequent Flyers:  The Lives of Coastal Birds is a group exhibition currently showing at Durras Progress Hall, cnr Corilla & Banyanda Streets, South Durras, NSW, running until Sunday 29th May.  On that Sunday, at 3pm, there will be a poetry and music performance at the venue, and I’ll be reading some bird poems, as will Sarah Rice, Johanna Rendle-Short, and Kerrie Nelson.  Helen Maxwell, who has organised the event, will be reading a poem by Francesca Rendle-Short and another one by Sue Fielding. It sounds like a fun afternoon!  There will be flutes and ukuleles, although probably not at the same time.

Sunday 29 May, 3pm – Bird concert and poetry recital – followed by exhibition closing drinks  $10 – BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL.  For bookings contact Helen Maxwell helen {AT} helenmaxwell.com, or ring 0439 876 645.

South Durras is a beautiful part of the world, about two hours drive from Canberra.  The photo below shows the main surf beach, from the dunes.

beach

 

Heron’s formula

A lesson in trigonometry,
the white heron forms triangles
with legs as she inches forward
< obtuse, acute, obtuse >
and reeds write the shape’s third side,
grass and leg linked by my needy eye.

Each retraction from stillness
seems a matter of regret;
a fall from Greek statue
into hungry, stalking GIF.
Silent as a wish, she moves
towards the modest,
root-dwelling fish.

A split triangle
wedged into head axes down,
teaching the dumb water
a critical formula: working an equation
on softer bodies.

Heron swallows, then cries triumph,
and the noise is the croak
of a thirty-a-day frog
krarkkrarking imperfection —
a broken kaleidoscope of notes —
a pocket full of clashing change.

The breath of the eager teacher
who tried to show me the
dubious wonders of triangles,
to draw them on my brain,
swings into memory
with a scalene sharpness.
Sound conjures smell;
ear and nose separated only
by a stretched vinculum of years.

Angel microbes swarmed
in his every exhalation,
armed with gleeful mallets
for playing smell croquet —
sulphur tapped through nostrils —
blunt, yet sharp and jangling.
He could not know that
he was Alice with stink flamingos;
heroic feathers tickling
before, and after, each own goal.
How could I breathe and think
under such an unnumbered cloud?
A limp fish, I soon failed.

The elegance of herons
undercut by noise;
the perfection of mathematics
negated by disgust.

I paddle off, towards firm ground,
away from the sharp, white assassin,
and the chopped pools of recollection.

P.S. Cottier

ship-went-away

 

This poem was just commended in the World Wetlands Day Poetry Prize, judged by Sarah Day, so I thought it would be nice for people to be able to read it.  The winning poems are posted at the link, and very good they are too.  The site itself is as cool as a rockpool and thrice as pretty.

This is an unusual poem for me in that it combines the natural world and memory and mathematics.  I am innumerate, so the maths is the most freaky part.  The poem recalls someone being turned off the so-called Queen of the Sciences for life.  Sometimes the division between authorial voice and real author is pretty swampy.

Heron’s formula has something clever to do with triangles, I think.  Personally, I am satisfied that the sail on the swanboat in the picture above is a most definite triangle.  I passed Shapes at kindergarten with flying colours.

Click this link to see which other poets are Tuesdaying.

 

This poem is a birdbath

and it fills itself with bird,
the quick splash of silvereye
the suspicious sip of currawong,
unable to believe in non-carnivorous gift —
looking out for bigger beaks behind the bush.
This poem features no sudden cat, lurking,
a sonnet’s volta, waiting to rewrite the tone
from mild celebration to whiskered doom.
The water slops over the rim of
the poem.
The mess feeds the grass below, as do the birds.
Birds draw no firm distinctions between bath
and toilet. They revel, quietly, and the poem
expresses gratitude, for being, for being merely.

P.S. Cottier

bigstock_Cockatoo_2821596

Muse with beak

That one doesn’t really need much exegesis! Annoyingly, a wee glitch (as opposed to an enormous GLITCH) is preventing me doing a broken line…’the poem’ is supposed to appear under the rest of the line. But I’ll try and stay positive rather than cursing my computer or the platform which allows for these posts!

See which Tuesday Poets are still posting poems by checking out the sidebar here: http://tuesdaypoem.blogspot.com.au

***

In other poetry doings, Michele Seminara has recently had four poems featured at Rochford Street Review, and it was a delight to find that one was dedicated to a certain P.S. Cottier. Michele’s first book, Engraft, in which these poems appear, will soon be launched in Sydney, Wagga Wagga and Melbourne. You can read the poems here, and also find details of the launches there. I am thinking of going to Wagga.

Apart from being a fine poet and editor, Michele is also a blogger.


We are all working our way up, towards the birds

We are all working our way up, towards the birds.
Outliers like Icarus, 70s pterodactyl hanggliders,
twitchers and breeders of weird coloured parrots:
they have all felt the urge and responded
to the best of their beakless capacities.
But they are not the neo-orno avant-garde.
The egg must come first, before the flight —
putting aside philosophy, that is just true.
So who is nature’s true Anna Wintour?
Where is the next Paris to be found?

The catwalk of the world is spiked by echidna.
Platypus pouts there too. (That is hard with a bill.)
These two are the fashion-forward models,
who will soon sprout wings and launch and fly;
it is happening now, as I type and you read.
Placenta will be ditched, like yesterday’s rags.
Next year, unaided flight will be de rigueur,
and song will erupt, without instruments,
deep from the gape of seven billion throats.
We are all working our way up, towards the birds.

P.S. Cottier

airship-1670

This poem was recently highly commended in the Interstellar Award for Speculative Poetry. Fellow Tuesday Poet (and lovely person/editor) Tim Jones was placed second with a poem that blends the speculative and the political, and Kevin Gillam (who may be lovely, for all I know, but who lives in Western Australia, which is much further away than New Zealand, at least psychologically) was awarded first place with a fascinating work that demands several readings. (A little like that monstrous sub-clausey sentence, but much much better.) You can read their poems and the detailed judge’s report here. This was the second thing I was highly commended/shortlisted/close-but-no-cigared for in the last fortnight! I won’t bore on about the other one though, as I don’t want to publish that poetry here just yet.

If you like humorous, short poetry, I promise that some will be read at Manning Clark House on 24th June at 7.30pm. I hear there will also be some quite angry stuff, and, of course, some speculative poetry. That’s by me; I have no idea if Mark Tredinnick writes any of that sort of thing. (He is the other reader.)

Come along to 11 Tasmania Circle and find out. Also; wine.

cheers

Read the works of the other Tuesday Poets around the world by pressing here.