Skiing for the first time is like…

…strapping a fake pelican’s bill to your face
and being told go fish, go now, go quick!

And the sardines are fifty metres below
and the waves are all like Teahupo’o,

but icy as the Atlantic, not tropical Tahitian,
so you can’t feel your new prow because it’s frozen

to your nose. It’s growing, speedy as Pinocchio’s,
this aberrant beak, and you wish that you had lied

and pleaded stomach bugs or swine flu or Death,
who now looms, laughing in pink fluorescent pants

urging you to push off, go now, go quick!
And you gaze down, down to the white fields

soon to be strewn with your broken, severed legs,
punctuating cold pages with exclamatory pain.


PS Cottier


‘Skiing for the first time is like…’ awarded second prize in the Cooma Feast of Poetry 2009 (Adult open section). Published in Cooma Feast of Poetry chapbook, 2009.

Just a follow up from the mountain themed entry last week. But I have never skied; too much of a wimp, and too little snow. The nearest I’ve been is on a sled; a bit like the guy above.

UPDATE: I previously posted a link to a review I wrote of a history of Australian women’s football, but a reader has informed me that it’s behind a paywall, so I have removed it. So skiing is the only sport here!

a persistence of jellyfish
flesh liaisons bloom
sea-flowers have no soul

P.S. Cottier

‘sea-flowers…’is from Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

This bluebottle is the sort of lovely Australian creature that delights visitors. The image (PD Wiki Commons) is very fine, but doesn’t show the long tail of the creature, which is the bit that stings.

I have a vivid memory of swimming out of my depth, when one of these wrapped around my arm like a mad doctor’s blood pressure tester. I had to swim to shore, against a slight overtow, with a band of pain tightening around one of my arms. I developed a delightful weal on my arm, resembling a string of rubies given by a particularly sadistic Prince from a fairy tale by Angela Carter.*

At the time, I didn’t know how bad the sting of these creatures was, in terms of how poisonous. Fortunately, they are not too bad for most people, unlike the small invisible jellyfish found further north, which are deadly. (Some people have bad reactions to them though, as with bee-stings. See this article.)

Interestingly, the bluebottle is actually a co-operative of creatures that band together, rather than a single life-form. I believe that these are the sorts of things that we will find on other planets. ‘Other planets’ here means the south coast of NSW.

I believe that Australian wildlife may be touched on in the central Tuesday Poem this week. Press this link and find out.

*UPDATE: I have been flicking through other posts by Tuesday Poets, and just noticed that Helen Lowe is featuring a poem by Tim Jones about Angela Carter. There is an absence of jellyfish in the fine poem, but the coincidence tickled me. Like a bluebottle, but a lot less painful.

Tuesday poem: Air in the heart

September 16, 2013

Air in the heart

You might think it would be a good thing,
being light-hearted, like a kite, or a bird
riding up-draughts. But air in the heart
can stop pumping, block flow, rather than
bump it up. Diver into four ringed death,
ventricle prevented; you have blown
your last, and so you expire,
choking, full, oxygenated.
Open mouthed like a fish
surprised in sudden air;
a blimp crashing
through inflation.
Mouth a circle
of airy shock,
an SOS
of ‘O’s.

P.S. Cottier

This jolly little thing, first published in The Mozzie, dates back to my disastrous attempt to scuba dive. That’s only disastrous in the sense that I couldn’t do it, rather than dying, though. Fortunately, I was learning (or failing to learn) in a pool in Canberra.

I had the totally irrational urge to remove the mouthpiece. Not so good in forty metres of water…

I suppose that I’ll never swim with the fishes. But neither, hopefully, will I sleep with them.

For more poetry, press this feather. Which reminds me that I’ll never skydive, either.
Tuesday Poem

My column at Australian Poetry which will go up later this week is about different ways of performing poetry: slams, bush poetry and ‘literary’ readings. Pop over there as well! My first one was on being a poetic guinea pig, as mentioned before.