Tuesday poem: Future lungs

December 9, 2019

Future lungs

Everyone mining air
and everyone a canary —
the future is coughing.
Invest in inhalers.
King Asthma ascends —
his sceptre
a smoke cigar.

PS Cottier

travelers-lured

I’m sitting in Canberra at 11am, and it’s almost like twilight because of all the smoke in the air from the bushfires near Braidwood, and possibly even from down near Batemans Bay. We may be having a foretaste of the future, when even the bravest firefighters (like those we have now) won’t be able to put out the climate change induced fires.

There may be no more telling the kids to ‘leave that computer and go outside and play’, because they might find breathing a tad difficult.

Still avoidable, but only if we did something serious about tackling climate change. The Firefighters Union knows what it is talking about.

I just had a poem called ‘On Nothing’posted at Right Now: Human Rights in Australia, on the subject of climate change, inspired (if that’s the right word) by Peter Dutton, when he was recorded saying ‘Time doesn’t mean anything when you’re about to … have water lapping at your door.’ This was in reference to people living on small Pacific islands, who are already suffering obvious and dangerous effects of climate change. You can read it here.

This gives me an excuse to post one of my favourite images again.

giant-drink-stream

What I see is not forever

Around the world we hear
that sweetness is dwindling;
at least the bee-borne sort.
They’re in my garden though,
have claimed the bird bath
as bee bath, sipping relief
from forty harsh degrees.
Colonies are collapsing.
Sudden buzzless fields,
quiet stingless grasses —
husk bodies whisper warnings.
Yet here, this weird abundance,
writing a million hovering lines.
How long? I ask the bees.
But bees know neither science
nor faith, except, perhaps,
that this shallow bath
holds water, and may yet
cup a cool tomorrow or two.

PS Cottier

spring-day

Read about hive collapse syndrome: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/australian-scientists-may-have-solved-the-mystery-of-bee-colony-collapse-20150209-13a6ss.html

I am always frustrated by the kind of comment to articles about climate change that says ‘Well it’s cold in [insert locale] now so global warming is nothing to worry about!’.  This got me thinking that the abundance of bees in my garden may be something that could disappear quite quickly; that one person’s eyes are never enough to give a comprehensive view.

Whether the fate of the bees is directly related to climate change is something I don’t know, but their dwindling numbers is a worrying phenomenon.

 

‘…Transient creatures that swarm and multiply…’

Galaxies expanding —
every grass patch blinks
with five hundred petalled suns.
Bees travel between them
mining pollen from stars.
Aliens hover amongst us,
just like us in gold lust
and frantic accumulation.
For us, though,
it’s always spring,
exempt from rumours
of compromising change.
Our ears are buzzing
with far less than bees.
The canals are Martian,
quite epically empty.

P.S. Cottier

daisies

The quotation in the title is from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. The quote refers to microscopic creatures, but we shall not quibble. The canals on Mars, exploited in the poem for a pun, turned out to be mere features of topography (Here I must insert a green alien saying ‘That’s what you think!’ followed by a sinister laugh. It’s compulsory.)

Mining anything from stars would be a tad difficult, I know, but I’ll flourish my poetic licence on that one, to any cruising and literal minded traffic cops of the blogosphere.

There’s a great tradition of books about creating a breathable atmosphere on Mars, and I’m also harnessing that to a poem partly about our rabid experimentation with earth’s climate.

It’s amazing where a patch of daisies can lead you!

UPDATE: So the gutless NSW Premier has changed his mind on banning greyhound racing. Cruelty 1, Compassion 0. I’ll be interested to see what the ACT government does in response.

Firstly, if you want to hear me talk about poetry at some length, and read a few poems, please go to the Verity La podcast.  Michele Seminara and Alice Allan are the interviewers/fellow discussants, which means that they like hurling questions like flattened orbs, but in a polite kind of way.  I am just getting up the courage to listen to myself.

Secondly, I was in a most excellent night at The Salt Room on Friday 23rd September.  I was the first reader, armed with lectern, and stayed rooted to the spot, even if my poetry didn’t.  I read about fantastic creatures and climate change.

Then came Miranda Lello, who read a long poem, or poetry sequence, called Election Day 2086 (a memoir, a map), which she had written for the reading.  She also made a zine specifically for the night.  The election described in very grounded in Canberra, but a Canberra that stands as a kind of ghost of the current one.  Black Mountain Tower

‘…rises from the forest pointing
To our neo-retro-future selves
Empty for decades beaming signals to the stars –
Stories of school groups’ noisy chattering
The cruelty of children…

She is a great reader/performer, and I enjoyed her travels in time, and the way she recasts the very familiar in a slip of unfamiliarity. She needs no magic call box. Or lectern, either!

Scott Wings also dealt with time, but for me his use of space was the most remarkable thing; his crawling up a tree by lying on the floor, his pacing the room, so that even the shyer people up the back were made part of the performance.  If you gave Scott a lectern, I think he’d probably use it in some unexpected way.  His work is quite moving, too, dealing with aspects of his life and how he came to poetry.  Here we all are:

salt-room

Joel Barcham and Andrew Galan were their usual form of excellent, too, and I am very happy to have been asked to read at The Salt Room.

Yesterday (and thirdly) I went up to Sydney for the  inagaural  first Poetry at Sawmillers reading, and enjoyed the brief taste of the lower north shore.  Some really good poetry read and performed, and I’ll post a link to the winner’s poem if it is published.  For me, sitting at a local pub with a view of a bay and a bridge, sipping booze was so pleasant I can imagine another poet, say SP (“Sippy”) Cottier, who would miss the reading and simply stay on the terrace, sunning herself like one of the lizards living under the succulents on the deck who have no idea that they have a view worth about 3.5 million dollars.

But I am not that poet, and really enjoyed reading my poem, which I present forthwith:

7 ways to look at a sculpture

Firstly, it seemed a frozen poem,
which I read in different drafts
as I skirted around it.

Then it was time captured,
as if to trap the watchers,
and so release us from fervent rush.

By Wednesday I saw it more
as a mere mirror to catch
any cracked thought I threw at it —

but the next day it restated
its being as a question, set to
disrupt our certainties with what?

Friday, it seemed to push up the sky,
a small, persistent fist clenched
against wind and mess and change —

but this changed on Saturday.
The grass seemed to give birth to it
as tulip, rocket and shining tree,

which unfurled into beauty
on the stretching, languid, seventh day,
an exclamation, an endless ah!

P.S. Cottier

Now I am off to stare at the Verity La site to see if I’m brave enough to listen to me.

***I have also received my new chapbook, and will post about that very soon.  That’s a fourthly.

UPDATE:  I listened to the podcast and I’m not as inarticulate as I had feared.  I particularly like the discussion on ecopoetry and climate change.