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.

Tuesday poem: Budgerigar

April 9, 2013

Budgerigar

Ten million green commas punctuate blue sky,
quick breaths of swooping wonder, multiplied.
Water-hole is your target; liquid rope pulls you
and the whole emerald sky is diving,
as miniature bodies scoop down to 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 so acrylic in your finish.
Proud but damp escapee from French balcony,
regretting the lost seed and the found liberty.
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

bigstock-Budgerigars-132620

I wrote this poem quite a while back, but haven’t found the right place for it. Until now! Budgerigars live in huge numbers in inland Australia. Apparently they are our most successful animal export (excluding the woolly things). They are, I assume, no longer exported, but their proclivity for breeding makes them the world’s most popular cage bird. I’m sure they’d rather be back in the wild, if birds were capable of such choices.

For further poetry, click this feather, which is most definitely not that of a budgie:

Tuesday Poem

Silver-eyes and figs

Each bird a single note, played
between the heavy figs, swollen
breves in this flighted music,
swing accents in an airy score.
The eye does not dissect
any swift segue of feather,

rather the bird breeze shakes
the hand-leaves, palms turned away.
It is the movement we see, not
a display case specimen mounted,
spread eagled for our slower eyes.

To watch this quick-silver is to
turn away from focus, to become
silver-eyed ourselves, as the ruffled

feathers of the fig
breathe scent of bird.

This uncharacteristic poem appears in my first book, The Glass Violin, copies of which are still available from Ginninderra Press. (Scroll down this linked page to Cottier.) Annoyingly, the last two lines above should appear as a broken line, with the word ‘breathe’ under the word ‘fig’, but this broken line keeps being removed before I can post this entry, creating a lovely chunky effect. Sigh.

I still remember how nervous I was before the launch of that first book. Geoff Page did the launch speech.

And now I am doing the launch of a book for the first time on Friday. The book is called In response to magpies, and is a small pamphlet of nine poems dealing with this charismatic Australian bird. The idea is that it would make a wonderful alternative to a mere Christmas card. The authors are Denise Burton, Amelia Fielden, Hazel Hall, Norma Hayman, Kathy Kituai, Sandra McGahy, Fiona McIlroy, Sandra Renew and Jill Sutton.

golden eye, not silver

Details: Biginelli Expresso, 5th floor, School of Music, Australian National University, 2pm. Please come along if you feel like poetry or coffee (or both) in the middle of the day.

I understand that magpies cause some havoc in New Zealand, where they are an introduced species. So even though one might say Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle, I doubt somehow that this feather represents the magpie. Click it, and you will fly to New Zealand, where further poetry awaits you.
Tuesday Poem

Palm cockatoos

Heads like a child’s drawing of bird heads,
huge beaks and feather manes, flopping,
last extant beat-poets, croaking of things
hep and cool. Man, you hit bedrock
on that arching drum, selecting the sticks
that give the deepest echo, sound playing
through tall wooden amplifier,
from dark roots to hazy blow of sky.
You contemplate the waving tops
of tropical trees, plumed angel-head,
stylish in your black daytime rhythm.
Inimitable pulsing punctuation,
beaky accent perched above
the forest’s bright green flow.

(The palm cockatoo is the only wild animal known to select, and possibly to store, sticks for use as musical instruments.)

P.S. Cottier

I am fascinated by palm cockatoos, although I have never even seen one. They live in the far tropical north of Queensland.  The tattoo comes from much closer Queanbeyan, just over the border in New South Wales.

So why would you get a tattoo of a bird you have never seen? A little reminder that there are more things in heaven and earth…an encouragement to discover new worlds and boldly go…a cheap and less seedy way of being a pirate?

I don’t know, but I think the tattoo artist did a good job. (Thank you Carbine.) I have posted a black and white photo as the colour one I have makes my skin look a rather alarming yellow: just below nuclear buttercup.  I will try and obtain a better photo, as the detail is blurred in this one. But this is my cockatattoo forever looking for sticks. My skin is the drum. Watch your finger!

For poetry, much of which is written in a country where tattoos are not unknown, please press this feather:
Tuesday Poem

Abbott’s booby

December 3, 2011

Sorry if the word ‘booby’ misdirected you here.

This is another poem about Tony Abbott, leader of the Liberal Party in Australia, which is similar to the Conservative Party in England, in many ways.  (Here’s the first one published on this blog, relating to climate change.) I recently had a poem about Australia’s attitude to refugees who arrive uninvited published on Eureka Street, remembering the dozens of people who died last year, smashed on the rocks of Christmas Island, an Australian island that is no longer part of Australia for immigration purposes.  That poem featured the Christmas Island crab.  This one draws links between another native of Christmas Island, Abbott’s booby, and the Leader of the Opposition.

Abbott’s booby

This poem regurgitated itself into my mouth —

a sardine of ill repute, silver little slug.

Abbott’s booby is a native of Christmas Island,

flying around and around.

Its cry is unmelodious,

unfit for any proper idyll.

It picks up stray ideas

and smashes them onto rocks.

(It is in league with the crabs.)

It is a member of the Gannett family.

And there, the useful metaphors run out,

like a big country’s generosity.

For this is a large, graceful bird,

once it has struggled into flight,

and it only troubles the wind.

It is unrelated to the budgie.

It is endangered.

Others, though, are entering their prime.

Oh silver, stinking poem,

shoved down a gagging throat.

P.S.Cottier