I stole that title from Wordsworth, of course. I was out for exercise yesterday, and noticed how many birds there are in Canberra, particularly sulphur-crested cockatoos and corellas, with lots of young birds begging to be fed.

corellas

The sun was out, and I found myself plainly happy, totally forgetting about coronavirus for a short while. Of course, just for a moment, and soon it was back to skirting around any other walkers and cyclists. I felt almost guilty for feeling so good, thinking about the many older people stuck inside, and the crew of the cruise ship Ruby Princess still confined aboard, and, of course, the people who have died from the virus.

The hundreds of dogs so delighted that their owners are home so much more now have no inkling as to the virus, and I envy them their lack of knowledge.

My mind wagged
my thoughts spaniels
licking the air

We are lucky that we can still get out and stroll around here in Canberra for necessary exercise, and even buy a takeaway coffee, and observe the natural world that reaches right into suburbia. Helps keep one relatively sane.

Tuesday poem: haiku

April 16, 2019

Autumn wind

white leaves swirling

cockatoos

Muse with beak

In Canberra at the moment there are thousands of sulphur crested cockatoos and corellas, supplemented with galahs and gang-gang cockatoos. Some of these birds come down from the higher mountains to avoid the even worse cold, and some stay here all year round.

This morning I was having a coffee outside a café watching a cockatoo eat seedpods in a tree, making the leaves fall down, as many other birds flew overhead. Blame him/her for this little poem.



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.