So, I’m improvising here. You’ll have to click this sentence and be taken to the journal Verity La, where my poem was just published. It came about after I noticed how very blond Jesus is in many stained glass windows. He’s like David Gower…If a little chubby in this version:

From an early age, his abilities in slip were manifest…Batting came later

If you like this poem, there are lots more in Triptych Poets Issue Three

Or, click this feather, dropped by an angel, and head to New Zealand, where the mud bubbles and the poems are more than luke warm. (Little biblical pun there…Sorry.)
Tuesday Poem

Perhaps that should be lines. The Cricket Poetry Award closes on 31st August, so if you have an idea for a poem about playing or watching cricket, it’s time to pad up.

The prize is $2000 AUD, entry is $20, which can be done by Paypal, and the announcement of the winner is made at the SCG members pavilion. The top twenty poems from each year have previously been published in a booklet.

Entry forms and full conditions can be found here. There is a tight word limit of 150, so there is no defensive play allowed. No Boycott. Only Gower. And that has to be a good thing.

Bloody batting metaphors. Grumble grumble.

Poem from a hammock

January 2, 2012

It’s perfect weather, about 30 degrees. I’ve been swimming twice today, and saw dolphins, black cockatoos and Brazilian tourists; all very pretty.  Tomorrow a new Test match starts.  There’s always a new Test match at this time of year, and then there’s tennis, or should I say Tennis, in Melbourne. This poem relates to the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, and was written as India came out to bat.  (I’m a quick poet, so I finished this before their innings was over…)

I know there’s still a world somewhere outside this huge brown hammock of a country, but in the middle of Summer, at the beach, that seems like an unlikely dream.  Here’s a lazy sonnet from a currently rather lazy country:

Every Summer

The flat green bird, flecked with white,
squawks all Summer in the corner.
Clarke, Ponting, Hilfenhaus, Warner
versus Dhoni and Dravid (the one to dislike).
There’s a shadow plays just behind this match
for something odd occurred at Bellerive,
concerning Kiwis, still hard to believe.
So in case something else weird should hatch,
there’s a certain anxiety beneath our banter.
India’s chasing two hundred and ninety-two.
(Difficult, but not impossible to do.)
But I think we’ll win now, in a canter.
And when it’s over, and the song is sung,
silence pounds out its ghostly runs.

P.S. Cottier

Seams? I know not seams.

Best wishes to anyone active enough to be surfing the net.  I’ll be back in full hardworking poetry-factory mode soon enough.  When I extract myself from the comfortable myth of perfection.  Happy new year to everyone.

(And after a lot of thought – for they still pop up in Australia in Summer – I can’t mention New Zealand in a light-hearted poem without at least acknowledging the new earthquakes that happened over the holiday period.  I read the ugly words like ‘liquefaction’ and have no idea what that would really mean, except that it must be terrifying to be in Christchurch when these tremors/quakes occur.)

Update: I realise now, having visited some news sites, that as I was drafting this entry, another major tremor hit Christchurch.  I hope that the damage was minimal.

Ghosts in slip

June 7, 2011

Further to my last post (now that sounds lawyerly!) here is another poem about cricket which was highly commended in the Adult Poetry section of the Kernewek Lowender Writers Event 2011.  That’s an event celebrating Cornish culture in South Australia.  I’m not Cornish, and I don’t know if cricket is popular in Cornwall, but here’s the poem, which actually rhymes.  It was a pleasure to try something different in form (and tone) from my usual palette (aka bag of tricks).  I wanted to try to write something almost like a ballad, and although it’s not perhaps my best work, there are images in it that I like.

Above the river-flats

That night I fell asleep after my customary ‘one or two’,

(which somehow numbered three, or four, or more than just a few)

and I awoke at half-past-nothing to the thump of ball on bat,

so I rolled over to watch the cricket ground, above the river-flats.

Cricketers wear whites, it’s true, but these glowed like a full moon,

and no-one had to run, for the players floated like balloons.

Above the grass they hovered like angels, or at least anaemic owls,

and something had muted their grunts and usual sporting growls.

‘Howzat?’ was quietly asked and somehow that old appeal,

sounded like Hamlet’s queries when he ponders if he’ll

be or end it all with a sudden bodkin that is bare,

and I wished I hadn’t laid my swag down, just exactly there.

The ghostly game played itself out, as all games must do,

and I lay and watched the players fade, and felt the showery dew.

Then I raised myself, and shook myself, like a dog come from a dam,

but knew that this attempt to forget was a feeble, wishful sham.

At the pub, later that day (and who wouldn’t need a beer

having watched ethereal cricketers for what seemed like a year?)

I raised the topic of the sports-ground, and what teams use that green,

all casual and circumspect with no mention of the scene.

‘There’s no teams play there no more’, my informant said.

‘All the young blokes have moved away, and the old ones are dead.

I was the greenkeeper, and I still keep it all mowed flat and nice,

but no-one uses it, ‘cept wombats.  And the bloody mice.’

The truth tingled on the edges of my beer-loosened tongue,

to tell that immortal cricketers still sent the ball down, and swung

an elegant bat in a strange, beautiful moon-lit ritual,

but such a tale would mark me as a liar quite habitual;

So I shut my mouth, then opened it, and swallowed down my tale,

with the comforting blanket of my pension-purchased ale.

But each night now, as the visions toss and smash and frolic,

they are applauded with enthusiasm not entirely alcoholic.

For a man remembers many things, though he may forget more,

and I recall my own lost days, as I keep the spirits’ score,

before I left my home and love, when I played a different game.

And the exercise of the ghost-team now warms my tired cold frame.

P.S. Cottier

Bat and ball and pen

May 31, 2011

There’s currently a great poetry competition on called the Cricket Poetry Award . For members of full member registered ICC countries only, of course, and if you don’t know what that means, you’re probably not going to be that interested in cricket.  There’s a list of the countries on the site.  For my American friends, cricket is a kind of baseball with rules.  Lots of them.

I was short-listed for the prize a couple of years back with my poem ‘DIY’, about the way we act as famous sports-people when we play cricket, (or basket-ball, or football; Lionel Messi is a fallen angel, isn’t he?  One who looks like an accountant after the Christmas party).  The entry fee is $20, which may be a little steep for some cricket fanatics in developing countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka.  But the first (and only monetary) prize is $2000.  That’s Australian dollars, which are currently worth more than the greenback.  And short-listed poems are usually published in some form, although this is not in the rules (that word again).

The poetry can be about social cricket, and there is some information at the site about types of poetry.  I enjoyed the opportunity to write about a sport that dominates Australia’s summers, particularly when we are playing England (who seem to have a team made up mostly of South Africans).

Here’s my poem from 2009.

D.I.Y.

In the backyard I was always David Gower.

I opted for an easy nonchalance,

the sweep you could weep for, the air cut

with a wooden knife of sudden elegance,

(when it could be bothered to dance the dance).

Truth is, I couldn’t bat at all, but that

is merely a fact. In the suburb of dreams,

I was graceful and quick and David Gower.

Why would anyone opt to be Dennis Lillee?

Grunt-powered, facial hair fallen to chest

where it grew into rain-forest, sweat-sprinkled.

There was nothing of the lily about him;

nothing quiet or lovely or sweet-scented

(although he always bowled as if he meant it).

Yet everyone else chose this dubious flower,

right-handed terror to my imaginary Gower.

P.S. Cottier