Tuesday poem: Fungi

June 2, 2019


They are not one nor the other
neither animated beasts
nor sluggish vegetables.
We see them as ambiguous,
but they are what they are,
have no need for categories
to undermine like mulch.
Some have an orange that is limitless.
Ten trillion angelic spores tickle the air.
They join forests with reaching non-fingers.
They are neither sadness nor glee.
Persistent softness breaks down logs.
Some push up after rarest rain —
quaint exclamation reversed,
cap upright but no mere tittle,
and not a little ‘i’.
They mouth off.
They are easily mistaken —
or rather, we mistake them,
rejecting our uncertainty.
Poison is just a flicker from food,
kidneys breaking down like wood.
They are not one nor the other —
they have their ways.
Would that we were they.

PS Cottier


A new poem celebrating those things that one finds when walking, that confuse our unthinking preference for binary categorisations.

(Image by Holger Krisp, Ulm, Germany, CC BY 3.0)

Cetaceous floater
chewing soft cud of sky krill
blubbered cumulus

P.S. Cottier
skywhale launch

The best thing to happen during Canberra’s Centenary Celebrations (there are a lot of capitals around at the moment in the nations’s capital) took to the air outside the National Gallery on Saturday.

Skywhale, a balloon sculpture designed by Patricia Piccinini, is not exactly your typical whale. She has a bit of the turtle about her, and wings made of breasts. Is she an angel? I don’t know, but her presence is peaceful and wonderful; confusing those who like straight lines and easy classifications.

The money, some people are shouting! The outrageousness of producing a whale that isn’t even a proper whale for the centenary of an inland city! The threat to mental law and order! Read some of the comments here on RiotACT, where the haiku was posted by me as a comment. I didn’t want to argue the case, as Skywhale seemed so strangely perfect in her ambiguity. A poem seemed more appropriate.

There should be more of this sort of perplexing beauty, confounding those who think that art should be confined to easily recognisable portraits and lovely landscapes punctuated with useful sheep:

Moustaches and merinos
made Australia what she is today.
No fleecy clouds of maybe here!
No blubbering queens of perhaps,
with flowing boas of breast to tease
certainty into mere sniffle;
our capital’s castaway.

P.S. Cottier

Through all the controversy, Skywhale maintains her dignity, moving gently through the sky with her wings of breasts, a kindly and whimsical presence, powered by hot air but quite serene. Skywhale is certainly the Queen of the Centenary. She will soon be touring the country, looking down on her subjects with that benign and somewhat Mona Lisa smile.

Mona Lisa with barnacles

Mona Lisa with barnacles

Long may she swish through the skies, delighting those who prefer their art to have a little whimsy, and to pose a few questions, at the same time that it delights and sets us free.

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